I remember the first time I saw Tony Clark come to bat for the Detroit Tigers. The year was 1995 and he was a September call-up that stood a towering 6’7 and weighed 240 lbs. The man was a monster and the first pitch he saw that day he sent over the opposing team’s fence for a game-winning home run. Later that day I rushed out and bought myself his Bowman rookie card from 1994. Keep in mind that in 1994 there were no Bowman refractors, autographed rookie 1/1’s or anything else. It was a plain and boring card that I bought for $10 that was considered his real rookie card. I had great hopes for this young slugger and for the first four years of his career I was not let down.
In his first full season, Clark blasted a modest 27 home runs but that was in only 100 games. In the next three years Clark became a full-blown slugger and had 30 or more home runs each season. It seemed that my investment had paid off. By that time I had over 100 Tony Clark cards and he had joined the ranks of my favorite players, alongside Jose Canseco, Jose Cruz, Jr., and Manny Ramirez.
I don’t know if it was all physical through injuries or what but Clark never hit more than 16 home runs in his next 5 seasons. In the next 3, including 2007 Clark had a resurgence in 2005 with 30 home runs but went right back into bum-mode in ’06 & ’07 with 6 & 17 home runs. It seems whatever magic Tony had in his first few years has long vanished and all that is left is a shell of a towering giant who will never live up to the hype he created on that fateful day of 1995.