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Ex-Cardinals great speaks out on prostate cancer

By Gordon Engelhardt - Evansville Courier & Press
August 10, 2011

Jack Clark was smack in the middle of two of the most memorable plays in St. Louis Cardinals' baseball history. On the plus side, his three-run homer in the top of the ninth against the Los Angeles Dodgers in Game 6 of the National League Championship Series catapulted the Cardinals into the 1985 World Series.

Through the years, one of the most interesting things Clark has found is that people tell him where they were when he hit the famous homer.

"One guy was at the highest point of an aircraft carrier, I think in Okinawa," said Clark, who was at Bosse Field on Wednesday to promote prostate cancer awareness. "He had a transistor radio, which he wasn't supposed to have."

Needless to say, the Dodgers fans who had been giving him a hard time quickly shut up. Another guy was listening to the radio while he was fishing. When Clark hit his homer, the man jumped up in the boat, then fell overboard.

"He knocked over his tackle box," said Clark, smiling at the memory. "He had to have guys in scuba gear retrieve his equipment."

He said a mortician was in the middle of embalming when he heard Clark's blast on the radio and nearly cut his own finger off.

"Those were some pretty good stories," Clark said. "And there are also some sentimental moments of a little kid sitting on his grandfather's lap. The kid doesn't know me, but he remembers that time with his grandfather."

On the negative side, through no fault of his own, Clark is part of one of the most devastating moments in Cardinals' history. St. Louis led Kansas City 1-0 and was on the verge of wrapping up the '85 World Series title in Game 6 when disaster struck. Jorge Orta led off the bottom of the ninth by hitting a slow roller to first baseman Clark, who tossed to relief pitcher Todd Worrell covering the bag. Television replays and photographs clearly showed that Orta was out by half a step, but umpire Don Denkinger called Orta safe in what is regarded as one of the most controversial calls in Series history. It set the stage for a two-run rally that gave the Royals a 2-1 victory and they won Game 7 the next night.

"You think about things you could've done earlier in the Series and didn't come through," said Clark, who lives in St. Louis and provides analysis on radio station KTRS' Cardinals postgame show, which is streamed on the Internet. "That's the way the game goes. I haven't forgiven him, but I don't really think about it."

Some fans think the Cardinals' recent acquisitions were a last-ditch attempt to win before the franchise loses Albert Pujols to free agency. Clark wonders if there's a reason why Edwin Jackson and Octavio Dotel have pitched for so many different teams. As far as Pujols is concerned, Clark thinks Albert should've taken the Cardinals' contract offer made before the season.

"He loves the city and the fans and (the Cardinals) made him a nice offer," Clark said. "I don't know if he's going to get what he wants. He's not going to go to Boston or New York (Yankees) because they already have first basemen. For his first 10 years he was one of the best players in the history of the game. You would think he'd like to finish out his career wearing the birds on the bat."

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