Dave Clark: Going Home as Interim Astros Manager.

Sometime early this morning, maybe even as I write, Interim Manager Dave Clark of the Houston Astros will take off for home from New York City by automobile. The ten-hour drive to Memphis, TennesseeDave-Clark should be a welcome breeze after all that Clark has been through over the course of 2009 and his brief thirteen-game career as the guy who was appointed to bring this train-wreck of a season into the station over the last few miles of its beleaguered journey.

There was nothing publicly remarkable or particularly great about the shut-em-down final ride of the 2009 Astros under Dave Clark. The Astros won 4 and lost 9 under his watch, finishing the season in New York with a mostly mailed-in, three-game series sweep-loss to the Mets that simply died with a thud on Sunday – with no Astros runs scored, and only four mild  Houston hits to show for the last on-field lost cause of a season that sltready brimmed with many lost causes, too many nagging injuries,  and too frustrating and far too many agonizing personal performances.

Does Dave Clark drive home today with much of a chance of coming back without the “interim” descriptor written in front of his managerial title? Who knows? Sometimes an interim manager is so associated with the train wreck of his predecessor’s record that he doesn’t really have much chance for a fair consideration against those candidates who will be much easier to sell as fresh answers to the same old problems. Like Clark himself, we’ll just have to wait on the Astros to answer that one.

All we can know, as fans, is that Dave Clark does seem to enjoy the trust and respect of his players. On surface, in fact, he seems to fit many of the favorable dispositional factors that I wrote about in my article on Bill Virdon a couple of days ago. He defiinitely seems to hold the respect of players like Hunter Pence, who played for Dave Clark at Corpus Christi. His strong reputation as a teacher/mentor to younger players seems to be one of his strong assets, but its hard to draw any realistic conclusions about his management of pitchers and other personnel over the final two weeks just concluded. It was a time, after all,  for experimentation and not for starting pitcher and regular lineup solidification.

Who is Dave Clark, anyway?

47-year old Dave Clark is a native of Elvis Presley’s hometown, Tupelo, Mississippi. He was the 11th round 1983 draft choice of the Cleveland Indians as a BL/TR outfielder and he would go on to a 13-season career with six clubs (1986-1998), including his final season as an Astros hitter off the bench, and batting .264 with 62 career homers over the long course.

After his playing days, Clark spent three years in the Pirates organization as a hitting ocach (2000-02) and two years as a minor league manager (2003-2004) in the Pirates’ lower minor league system. He then shifted over to the Astros, managing for three years at Class AA Corpus Christi (2005-07) and one year at AAA Round Rock (2008). In 2009, Clark joined the major league staff at Houston under Cecil Cooper, the man he succeeded a little over two weeks ago.

As Astros fans, let’s just hope that Dave Clark gets a fair shake – and, most importantly,  that we end up with the best man for the  job of leading the Astros out of the wilderness in 2010. It may say nothing about his long term ability to lead the Astros to that elusive World Series victory we’ve all been seeking forever, but I like the fact that Dave Clark started Aaron Boone at second base in that 4-0 finale loss to the Mets. Boone was making his bid to become the only man in big league history to go through heart surgery and then get a hit during the same season of his medical crisis.

Aaron Boone already had gone zero for ten trying to accomplish same and he really had nothing to prove to others. Boone  had already come back, but he still wanted that hit as a symbol of personal validation and Clark knew it –  so he put him in the game. Boone went oh for three, but that’s OK too. He gave it his best final shot, and thanks in larger part to interim manager Dave Clark, a guy who thinks with the heart of a player.

Drive safe on the way home today, Dave! OK? Regardless of what happens from here, you can drive away from 2009 with respect in your hip pocket.

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One Response to “Dave Clark: Going Home as Interim Astros Manager.”

  1. Shirley Virdon Says:

    Enjoyed your commentary on Dave Clark. He is a first class man with a fine family.

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