Half-Baked Hall Profile: Fred Clarke

The Half-Baked Hall has been in existence for over a year now. The brainchild of Beau, it began as the WGOM’s alternative to the real Hall of Fame. Over the course of the past year, the voters at WGOM have worked their way through the 19th century, and up to the year 1923. By my count, 28 men have been elected. There are a few who were not eligible for Cooperstown that get their recognition at WGOM, including players who didn’t play the required 10 seasons and players who were banned for life. There are a number of members of the Cooperstown Hall that did not make the cut at the WGOM. In my mind, the unique greatness of the Half-Baked Hall is best illustrated by this discussion thread about Fred Clarke.

There is not much that I can add, but I will try.

Clarke could have made the Hall of Fame both as a player and as a manager. As an outfielder, he played 21 seasons, all with either Louisville or Pittsburgh. On the field, Clarke was an all-around player, regularly appearing near the top of the offensive leader boards, and providing a rare combination of solid hitting, speed, and defense. In addition to playing, he was a manager for 19 seasons, all but one of them were seasons in which he appeared as a player. During his tenure he led his team to four pennants and a World Series win.

Fred_Clarke
Clarke apparently lacked talent in one area: hat placement

The baseball world was not the only one in which Clarke showed all-around talent.

Blessed with mechanical as well as athletic talent, Clarke created and held patents for flip-down sunglasses, sliding pads, an additional rubber strip placed in front of the official pitching rubber to prevent pitchers from catching their spikes when they pivoted, a small equipment bag, and an early mechanical way of handling the tarpaulin;[9] he was an avid hunter and fisherman, a Kansas state champion amateur trap shooter, and an outstanding horseman who could do riding tricks;[10] and he became a prosperous rancher whose wealth was estimated at $1,000,000 in 1917—the equivalent of $81,100,000 in 2010[11]—after oil was discovered on his property the previous year.[12]

In addition, Clarke was involved in both community and national service. As a resident of the Winfield area, he was a member of the chamber of commerce, a charter member of the Rotary club, a supporter of sandlot baseball, and one of the founders of the town’s country club.[16] On the national level, he held leadership positions with the National Baseball Congress,[17] and he experimented with growing soapberry trees to see if the wood could be used to make stronger bats for the sporting goods company Hillerich & Bradsby.[18]

So, it is possible Clarke is the only member of the baseball playing, baseball managing, hunting, fishing, inventing, trap shooting, horsemanship, ranching, civic organizing, tree growing, and bat making Hall of Fame.

 

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