Horace Clarke: 10 Things You Never Knew About the Former Yankees Second Baseman
Between 1964 and 1976 the New York Yankees endured one of the longest dry spells in team history—12 years without an American League pennant, after winning five in a row and 14 flags in 16 years.
Those years, sometimes compared to the decline of the Roman Empire, became known as the "Horace Clarke Era." But although Horace Clarke (nicknamed Hoss) will never be favorably compared to other Yankees second baseman—like Tony Lazzeri, Joe Gordon, Bobby Richardson, Willie Randolph and Robinson Cano—he was a steady leadoff hitter and decent ballplayer on some lousy Yankee clubs.
And although he was often criticized for his defense—especially turning the double play—Clarke led American League second baseman in assists for six straight years (1968-73) and putouts four years in a row (1968-71).
For many years, he ran a baseball program for youngsters in the Virgin Islands. Now 72, he is retired and living in St. Croix.
Wanna hear more about Horace Clarke? Keep on reading:
1. Born in Frederiksted, St. Croix, in 1940, Horace is the fifth of 10 men from the U.S. Virgin Islands to make the major leagues.
2. At home he was the youngest of six children, and was called Harry.
3. His father, Dennis, was a cricketeer and also played the violin.
4. Clarke was signed as an amateur free agent by the Yankees in 1958, and made his debut in 1965.
5. He became the Yankees regular second baseman in 1967 when Bobby Richardson retired.
6. Clarke hit only 27 home runs during his career, but his first two (1965 and 1966) were grand slams. He remains the only major leaguer to ever accomplish that feat.
7. Clarke's best season came in 1969, when he hit a career-high .285 with 33 stolen bases.
8. The following season he broke up three possible no-hitters in the ninth inning—within a month. Hoss victimized Jim Rooker on June 4, Sonny Siebert on June 19 and Joe Niekro on July 2, 1970.
9. Clarke was sold to the San Diego Padres in 1974, for $25,000. He retired at the end of the 1974 season with a .256 lifetime average, 27 home runs, and 151 stolen bases.
10. He led the American League in at-bats in both 1969 and 1970, and in singles in 1967 and 1971. And Clarke had the lowest at-bat/strikeout ratio in 1970, one K for every 19.6 ABs.
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