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Posts Tagged ‘Horace Clarke’

Horace Meredith Clarke played second base for the New York Yankees from 1965-1974.  With the retirement of longtime Yankee, Bobby Richardson, Clark became the Yankees full-time second baseman in 1967. In his 10 seasons with the Yankees, he hit .257, with 27HR’s and 300RBI’s.

My dad was born in 1955, and grew up watching these Yankees. It wasn’t a time of celebration, but rather a decade filled with disappointment. From 1965-1974, the Yankees won absolutely nothing. Some of these teams included the likes of Mickey Mantle, Whitey Ford, Bobby Murcer and Thurman Munson.

The big complaint about Clarke was that he wasn’t able to turn the double play. With runners trying for the take out slide at second base, he would wind up holding onto the ball instead of turning it. With that said, Clarke was also a durable player, who came out ready to play everyday. He became the face of those poorly performing Yankees ball clubs, which is often called “The Horace Clarke Era” or “The Horace Clarke Years.”

In a recent interview, conducted by Kenneth Hogan, Clarke expressed his feelings on the subject:

You see (Laughs) every time I hear “the Horace Clarke Era” I don’t know how to take it but I think it is mostly because we were losing and I was a member of all of those teams. I could understand because fans, writers, and commentators were spoiled at being so successful for so long. I know how the fans feel about the drought that we went through, it was a let down during that losing era. But when I hear it I think, “Here we go again. The Horace Clarke Era, the Horace Clarke Years”. I’m going to tell you something, while I was there some guys (writers) always target me, I was targeted more than anybody I think because I played just about everyday. When I was traded to San Diego a writer wrote, “You know, that guy wasn’t so bad after all.” Because he had gone to the record books and saw what I had done over those years.

They said I couldn’t make the double-play but Gene Michael and I were tops in double plays a couple of years. I have looked in Yankee books and compared my stats to some of the older second basemen over the years and they didn’t do any better than me but they were among elite players that won World Series. My play was consistent over the years. I got on base and scored runs everyday. During the time I played I had the 3rd leading fielding percentage among second basemen. How could I be that bad?

Year Tm   W L Ties  W-L% Finish
1974 New York Yankees 89 73 0 .549 2nd of 6
1973 New York Yankees 80 82 0 .494 4th of 6
1972 New York Yankees 79 76 0 .510 4th of 6
1971 New York Yankees 82 80 0 .506 4th of 6
1970 New York Yankees 93 69 1 .574 2nd of 6
1969 New York Yankees 80 81 1 .497 5th of 6
1968 New York Yankees 83 79 2 .512  5th of 10
1967 New York Yankees 72 90 1 .444 9th of 10
1966 New York Yankees 70 89 1 .440 10th of 10
1965 New York Yankees 77 85 0 .475 6th of 10
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 8/21/2010.

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I got a little curious as to the top 10 Yankees lead off hitters who started the game batting first with atleast 1 plate appearance. Here is what Baseball-Reference has told me:
Rk Player AB H HR RBI BB SO BA OPS
1 Earle Combs 4496 1460 46 486 542 209 .325 .862
2 Horace Clarke 4271 1084 24 261 318 321 .254 .617
3 Willie Randolph 3152 878 20 235 506 231 .279 .736
4 Frankie Crosetti 2856 718 50 262 372 395 .251 .719
5 Derek Jeter 2478 794 73 277 272 407 .320 .863
6 Rickey Henderson 2278 657 77 252 403 277 .288 .851
7 Chuck Knoblauch 2102 571 49 200 259 243 .272 .767
8 Whitey Witt 1716 513 11 127 198 90 .299 .745
9 Hank Bauer 1677 461 75 222 173 215 .275 .819
10 Tony Kubek 1754 459 31 145 84 183 .262 .669
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 3/26/2010.

Outside of Earle Combs, no other player on that list has a batting average over .300 other than El Capitan, Derek Jeter. However, Jeter has a higher OPS. Interesting to see Rickey Henderson as compared to Jeter. For your information, Johnny Damon came in at number 11.

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