Fred Clifford Clarke
(October 3, 1872 â€“ August 14,
1960) was a Major League
player from 1894
to 1915. A Hall of
Famer, Clarke played for and managed both the Louisville Colonels and Pittsburgh Pirates.
He was a
Of the nine pennants in Pittsburgh franchise history, Clarke was
for four of them.
He and fellow Hall of Famers, Honus
and Vic Willis
, led Pittsburgh
to a victory over Ty Cobb
and the Detroit Tigers
in the 1909 World Series
. Clarke batted
over .300 in 11 different seasons.
His 35-game hitting streak
was the second-longest in
major league history at the time and is still tied for
eleventh-longest. For six years, Clarke held the major league
record for wins by a manager.
Early life and career
Clarke was born on a farm near Winterset, Iowa. At age two, his family moved as part of a
covered wagon caravan from Iowa to Kansas before
relocating to Des Moines,
Iowa five years later.
As a child in Des Moines,
Clarke sold newspapers for the Iowa
where his boss was future Baseball Hall of Fame
member, Ed Barrow
. Clarke played baseball
with local teams in Des Moines and Hastings, Nebraska. He was in the Southern League at age 21 and
played for teams in Montgomery, Alabama and Savannah, Georgia.
Clarke was discovered in the minor
by Louisville part-owner, Barney Dreyfuss
, and joined the Colonels in
. In his first game, he
collected five hit
in five at bats
which is still a major league record. In his
second season, he asserted himself with a batting average of .347,
191 hits and 96 run
which were all
best on the team by far. In 1897, Clarke took over managerial
duties while only 24 years old. As a player, he hit a career high
.390. Only the best average of Willie
's career stopped Clarke from winning his only batting
title. (For many years, Clarke's 1897 average was listed as .406
but further research led most official sources, including MLB.com
, to list it at .390.) Despite Clarke's
excellent hitting and the presence of fellow Hall of Famers,
and Rube Waddell
, the team struggled for several
years. While in Louisville, Clarke was teamed up with pitcher,
. Clarke and Fraser became
when they married
sisters. When the Colonels folded, Barney Dreyfuss became the owner
of the Pittsburgh franchise and tapped Clarke, Wagner, Waddell,
, and others to
In 1900, Clarke joined the Pittsburgh
as a player and manager, roles he would embrace until
his retirement in 1915. was arguably the best hitting season of
Clarke's career as he led the major leagues in slugging average
and led the National League in
. He finished second only to
his teammate, Honus Wagner, for the National League batting title.
In the first World Series
hit .265 but Boston
's Cy Young
outpitched Pittsburgh overall and won the series in
In the 1909 World Series
batted only .211 but hit both of Pittsburgh's home runs and had
more home runs and RBI than any player on either team. Clarke also
set a record for most walks for one player in a World Series game
with four in Game 7.
On August 23, 1910, Clarke recorded four assist
from the outfield in one game,
tying a major league record. The following season, his last as a
regular player, 38-year-old Clarke made ten putouts
in left field in one game on April 25, 1911.
Clarke played just 12 more games after 1911, the last three as the
oldest active player in the majors.
Clarke finished his career with a .312 batting average and is
seventh on the all-time triple
list with 220. He led his team to four National League
pennants (1901, 1902, 1903
and 1909) and one World Series
championship (in 1909). The 1902 Pirates lost only 36 games under
Clarke's guidance, a modern-era record. In , Clarke passed Cap Anson
, giving him the major league record for wins by a
manager. Clarke's record, in turn, was broken by John McGraw
in . In addition to the
four pennants and one World Series, Clarke managed Pittsburgh to
five second-place seasons and three third-place seasons.
After his playing days
After his managing days ended in 1915, Clarke eventually returned
to the Pirates, first as a coach
later as a vice president and assistant manager. As an assistant to
Barney Dreyfuss in 1926, he was allowed to sit on the Pirates'
bench but, on August 13, players requested that he be removed.
Instead, Pirates ownership responded by releasing veteran players,
and Babe Adams
, and waived
veteran (and eventual Hall of Famer), Max
Clarke was selected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1945 as one of the
first to be elected by the Old-Timers Committee.
He was one
of 24 original inductees into the Iowa Sports Hall of Fame
baseball days, Clarke retired to his "Little Pirate Ranch" near
Kansas, which he had purchased with a down payment during his first year in the
Fred Clarke died in Winfield at age 87.
Hall of Fame voting
- Fred Clarke at the National Baseball Hall
of Fame and Museum