Tuesday, April 28, 2015

April 28, 1976: Clarey Goes Yard in The 16th

     On April 28, 1976, Doug Clarey put the Birds in the win column with a 16th inning two-run blast that propelled the Cardinals to a 4-2 victory over the Giants at Candlestick Park in San Francisco. The big blast was the first and last home run of Clarey's short major league career that lasted just nine games. However, that home run has forever linked him to yet another great tale from baseball's past, as Clarey's moment in the sun came just 40 minutes from where he grew up.

     Being so close to The City by the Bay, Clarey was a fan of the Giants throughout his youth. He blossomed into a star baseball player in high school, then ended up with the Minnesota Twins organization after graduating. In 1974, the Cardinals were able to pick him up through the Rule 5 draft, then he toiled in the minors a bit. He never could get his bat going in the minors, and was in Class A ball when he got the call. Some strange coincidences ended up with Clarey being placed on the roster, which came in the form of an injury to second baseman Mike Tyson. The team was faced with dilemma after the injury, with both of their best options being out of options. That would mean they would have to clear waivers if they were called up then sent back down when Tyson was good to go. So the move for Clarey simply made sense from a business standpoint.

     Clarey understood his time in the bigs was going to be short from day one, because Tyson would be back much sooner than later. That hardly mattered. He was in the big leagues. For the most part he was relegated to a late inning defensive replacement role, until that marathon game in San Francisco. Then he got his chance, in the sixteenth with Don Kessinger standing on first. Mike Caldwell was on the mound for the Giants, and when the pitcher served him one up, Clarey took a swing that put him in the history books, as it sailed over the wall. Danny Frisella retired the side in the bottom of the inning, and Clarey was a hero. It was said when he walked into the clubhouse pandemonium ensued around him, and he called it the greatest experience of his life. He had lived a dream.

Check out the box score here: http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/SFN/SFN197604280.shtml

     Clarey played professional baseball until 1978. After hanging up the cleats he moved back to California where he worked in realty, before opening a pizza place by the name of Cheech's in 1993. A great deal of this information came from a SABR bio that was done about Doug Clarey. Although, I condensed it down quite a bit. If you would like to read more about him you can find that here: http://sabr.org/bioproj/person/5ec7d4e5

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