In recognition of Black History Month, here’s a shout-out to Dave Clark, the ex-Shannon High and Jackson State star who is one of just 16 African-Americans to have managed in the major leagues. (Yes, that’s a shamefully small number.) Clark, about to begin his sixth season as third-base coach for the Detroit Tigers, was the interim manager in Houston for the last 13 games of the 2009 campaign. The team, limping to the end of a 74-88 finish, went 4-9 under Clark. Interestingly enough, he was the third Mississippi native to manage the Houston club; Harry Craft (1962-64) and Harry Walker (1968-72) were the other two. Clark was a first-round draft pick by Cleveland out of JSU in 1983 and played 13 years in the big leagues, batting .264 with 62 homers and earning a rep as a fearsome pinch hitter. Since retiring as a player, he has managed in the minors (two championships) and in winter ball and coached for three different MLB clubs. He has been interviewed and/or considered for several major league managerial jobs since his stint with the Astros. That door might still open for him someday.
Topps Baseball 2018 Series 2 Card No. 383. That card is not likely to be a hot commodity among big-time collectors, but any Mississippi baseball aficionado will get a charge out of seeing it. It’s a JaCoby Jones base card – but there’s a bonus. The card features an action shot of Jones, the young Detroit Tigers outfielder from Richton, as he rounds third base in an apparent home run trot. He is about to get a low-5 hand-slap from the Tigers’ third-base coach, Dave Clark, the former Shannon High slugger. Two Magnolia State prep legends on one card. Jones was Mr. Baseball in the state in 2010 before going off to LSU. He was a third-round draft pick by Pittsburgh in 2013 and debuted in the majors with the Tigers in 2016. Way back in 1980, Clark set a state record for homers with 23 at Shannon. He went on star at Jackson State and was drafted 11th overall by Cleveland in 1983. He played 13 seasons in the majors, batting .264 with 62 homers and earning a reputation as one of the game’s top pinch hitters in his heyday. He is in his fifth season as a Detroit coach. P.S. Jones, aka “Juicy J,” is currently on an injury rehab assignment at Triple-A Toledo. He is batting .204 with eight homers this season for the Tigers.
In the wake of the news that Brad Ausmus is out after this season as manager of the Detroit Tigers, one has to wonder: Will Dave Clark be considered for the job in 2018? The former Shannon High and Jackson State slugger has been the Tigers’ third-base coach for four years. He knows the players. He has managed in the minors, where he won a couple of championships, and in winter league ball. And he has big league managerial experience, having served as Houston’s interim skipper for 13 games at the end of the 2009 season. Clark was a good player, as well, for parts of 13 seasons with several clubs. You’d like to think he has a shot at this job.
Southern Miss product Brian Dozier, shifted from shortstop to second base this season, was named the Minnesota Twins’ defensive player of the year by Wilson. Dozier committed just six errors and posted a .992 fielding percentage. … Brian McCann, the former Mississippi Braves star, reportedly is interested in the Texas Rangers. McCann, a free agent, got a qualifying offer from Atlanta but isn’t expected to return, which is sad. He was the first M-Braves alum to make the majors in 2005 and has been, when healthy, a standout in Atlanta. McCann, soon to turn 30, hit .256 with 20 home runs and 57 RBIs this season. … Jarrod Saltalamacchia, another ex-M-Braves catcher and free agent, wasn’t offered by Boston (though he might return there anyway). Wonder if Atlanta might have an interest in bringing Salty back? He batted .273 with 14 homers and 65 RBIs for the world champs. He is 28. … Tupelo native and former Jackson State star Dave Clark, recently cut loose from Houston’s field staff, was hired by Detroit as third base coach for new manager Brad Ausmus. … Belhaven left-hander Chris Good, 14-3 with a 2.18 ERA in 2013, has been named an NAIA Preseason All-American. … Mississippi College’s Mike Rice Baseball Field House is slated to open in March. Rice, an Alabama businessman who made a large donation toward construction of the 2,500-square foot facility, was a Choctaws star in the 1970s. … Billy Hamilton, the ex-Taylorsville High star, has four stolen bases in four Puerto Rican Winter League games. And two hits.