Monday, January 26, 2009

#1T Jack Clark


There is a lot to like about the 1988 Score set. Rather than list all the great attributes here on the first card post, I'll mention them as we go along in the set. This particular card happens to be an awesome photo, capturing Clark's gazed fixed on the incoming pitch


The text on the back mentions Clark's streak of games with a walk. Here is a link to such streaks, showing that Clark tied Toby Harrah's mark of 16 games in the A.L. and fell one shy of Willie Randolph's A.L. mark of 17.

Unsurprisingly, that record has since been broken. Here is a link to such streaks occurring 1993 to 2008, and Barry Bonds had 2 streaks longer than 16 games. Nick Johnson had one too.


Clark is actually underrated, I think, for a few reasons. One was that although he was a power hitter, he didn't amass very large HR or RBI totals in many individual seasons, topping 30 HR just once and 100 RBI just twice. Another was that he didn't go to the playoffs very often. And another is that his big free-agent contract with the Yankees was perceived by many as a bust even though the numbers suggest he performed pretty well in his last several seasons. Don't let those factors fool you, though. Clark had a career OPS+ of 137, and was over 125 every season from 1978 to 1991 (except for injury-lost 1986), a period that includes his final years with the Yankees, Padres, and Red Sox, barring his last half-season in 1992. He walked nearly as much as he struck out and was a pretty productive player.

I remember him more for stuff that happened after he retired, such as going bankrupt while owning many cars and allegedly begging for the Dodgers hitting coach job because he needed the money.


  1. Holy crap, I just noticed a crazy error on this card. Check out the stats on the back....1985 is listed twice (although the second time, it's his 1986 stats.) Oops!

  2. As much praise as I've given 1988 Score, now that my set is nearly complete and I've been looking at every card, I've noticed a lot of little typographical errors like that.

    Sometimes it's as simple as leaving the R off of "homer" but there are a few cards in the base set where the years on the stat lines are wrong.

    But hey, even with some typos, the copywriting is better than Topps'.

  3. True. The card backs beat the crap out of every other card back from 1988. I'll be talking more about that on upcoming posts.

  4. Welcome back, Andy. I'm going to have to dust off this Traded set and take a look at it. I loved the '88 Score when it came out because of the quality of the photography.

    I know what you mean about Clark's eyes focused on the ball. My favorite card produced by Score in 1988 was the George Brett (regular issue) because you see the ball and that he's watching into the catchers' mitt (although no one really has good enough eyesight to really follow the ball that closely).

    Jack Clark was a tremendous hitter and, as much as the Whitey Herzog Cardinals relied on speed and defense, it wouldn't have worked without a hammer in the middle of the lineup to bring them all around. His inability to be fully healthy in the playoffs cost the Cards in '85 (when he was coming back from injury and getting his timing back....although Tom Niedenfuer wrote to tell me Jack did have his timing) and '87 when he missed the post-season

  5. Agreed, Mike. That Brett card is one of the iconic cards of the 1980s and might be the single-best baseball card photo from 1988.

  6. See here for the Brett card:

  7. I'm glad that you are back. I'm glad that you went back to the 88 Topps style, too.

    It will be interesting to see which players in this set were in (or not in) the 88 Topps Traded set.