Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Of Cabbages and Kings and Second Sackers, Pt. III

There are a number of reasons why Bobby Richardson is thought of today as an all-time Yankees great, while Horace Clarke is considered a joke.

—One, the big one, is the respective teams they played on.

Bobby Richardson played in 7 World Series over just 8 seasons.  He got the reflected glory that even mediocre players on great teams often get—and in fairness, he generally played very well in those series, batting .305 in 36 games.

Richardson hit .367 in the 1960 World Series and achieved the unique honor (I think) of winning the Series MVP despite being on the losing team, as he drove in 12 runs.  He hit .391 in the 1961 World Series, and .406 in 1964—though that year his two crucial errors and several other miscues probably cost the Yankees the title (and Yogi Berra his job).

But generally, Richardson was playing out of his mind in the Fall Classic, and even when he didn't have a good Series—as in 1962—he was front and center, perfectly positioned to nab Willie McCovey's line drive.

Horace Clarke, of course, never saw a postseason.  His biggest clutch moments were a preternatural ability for breaking up no-hitters in the ninth inning, something he did four times.

—Two, presentation.

Richardson was highly articulate, a clean-living, off-season minister, who ended his career early to go back home and serve God.

Clarke was considered eccentric.  He didn't say a lot, and he continued to live in the once swank Grand Concourse Hotel even as it deteriorated into a welfare hotel.  Sportswriters also thought he looked funny, and of course he had a funny name, which tickled their Beavis and Butthead sensibilities.

—Three.  You know.

He looked funny?  Uh, yeah.  And he wasn't "courageous" enough on ground balls?  Hmm.

Look, I'm not saying the racism was overt.  But let's face it.  If the Yankees' second baseman from 1967-1973 had been a white minister with the name "Bill Clarke"—and the exact same game—would anyone have said a thing?

Well, here's to them both.  They both hustled all the time, and gave their all, whether their teams were in contention or not.  Which is more than can be said for some people.


JM said...

Hoss on Hoss. I didn't know Hoss lived in the Grand Concourse, Hoss. That is might peculiar. He must have got a great deal on rent.

Regardless, I saw him once during an Old Timers Day when I had wheedled corporate box seats out of a co-worker. Seemed like an incredibly nice guy when he stopped by to gladhand us.

JM said...

I probably should've said this first, but this was a great series of posts, Mssr. Clarke. I have a new appreciation for Hoss now, where before all I had was a vague feeling that he wasn't as bad as people made him out to be.

Now, I have reason to feel that way, plus more proof than my lazy ass would ever have managed to dig up on its own.

I tip my NY cap in your direction.

13bit said...

I second that cap 🧢 tip.

Anonymous said...

I will third that. Good job of defending your namesake and clearing his name. Now, is there anything you can do for Celerino Sanchez?

Doug K.

HoraceClarke66 said...

Thanks, guys! It was fun to do.

And yeah, old Celerino! Well, I'll tell ya...

Seriously, he was such a relief after Jerry Kenney!!

TheWinWarblist said...

Yeah, the racism was blatant.

Anonymous said...

I, on the other hand, liked and admired Robert Clinton Richardson greatly - - IN SPITE OF the fact that he was a bible-thumping, fire-breathing evangelical. LB (No J)