Fred Clarke

Fred Clifford Clarke
Inducted to the Hall of Fame in: 1945
Primary team: Pittsburgh Pirates
Primary position: Left Fielder

Twenty-four year-olds are not often found in leadership positions, but at that age, Fred Clarke fit right in as a player and skipper of a major league club.

As one of the first “boy-managers” Clarke starred in left field and led his teams to win from the field and the dugout.

“I tell you managing a team from the bench is far different from directing from the field,” he said. “I would much rather be a playing manager not only because I like to play ball, but because when I am in there playing my mind is on the game, and not filled with the perplexities and troubles of the manager.”

Born on October 3, 1872 in Winterset, Iowa, Clark spent a lot of time on a ball diamond as a youngster. His first professional experience came in 1892 with the Nebraska State League Hastings.

“I thought I was pretty good if I caught half the fly balls that came to me,” said Clarke.

He signed with the Louisville Colonels in 1894. He saw immediate success, recording four singles and a triple by using a light bat in his five plate appearances. Winning over fans and fellow players alike, he was named manager in 1897 and saw limited success leading the team. Hall of Fame executive Barney Dreyfuss purchased the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1899 and brought Clarke and other players from the Colonels to his new club.

Dreyfuss immediately named Clarke captain/manager. The team went from a 7th place finish in 1899 to second place in Clarke’s first season in 1900. Clarke led the Pirates to pennants from 1901-1903 and 1909 and a World Series championship in 1909.

“You’ve got to love baseball and want to play it above all else,” said Clarke. “You have to take every opportunity to practice and play. And not be discouraged. The most important thing is desire.”

Clarke batted over .300 eleven times, stole over 30 bases seven times and led NL left fielders in fielding percentage nine times. As a manager, Clarke won 1,602 games with a .576 winning percentage.

“As a player, Clarke's name will go down in history as one of the greatest in the game. In his prime, he was a remarkable batsman,” said sportswriter William Slocum.

Clarke was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1945. He died on August 14, 1960 in Winfield, Kan.

"He was one of the fastest base runners of all time. He used his elbows in running as much as his legs and tried to jar the ball loose whenever the infielders held it, a style led to numerous altercations. "
Baseball Hall of Fame historian Lee Allen

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Career stats

Year Inducted: 1945
Primary Team: Pittsburgh Pirates
Position Played: Left Fielder
Bats: Left
Throws: Right
Birth place: Winterset, Iowa
Birth year: 1872
Died: 1960, Winfield, Kansas
Played for:
Louisville Colonels (1894-1899)
Pittsburgh Pirates (1900-1911)
Pittsburgh Pirates (1913-1915)
Louisville Colonels (1897-1899)
Pittsburgh Pirates (1900-1915)
At BatsAB
Home RunsHR
Stolen BasesSB
Batting AverageBA
On Base %OBP
Slugging %SLG