Former first baseman in Major League Baseball best known for his years with the San Francisco Giants from 1986 to 1993. Clark was known by the nickname of "Will the Thrill." The nickname has often been shortened to simply “The Thrill.”
After a sensational career at Jesuit High School in New Orleans, Clark attended Mississippi State University, where he continued to flourish. Clark was inducted into the Mississippi State University Hall of Fame in 2003. Clark was inducted into the College Baseball Hall of Fame in 2006. He was inducted into the Bay Area Sports Hall of Fame on April 26, 2007 and the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame on August 1, 2008. He currently works in the San Francisco Giants front office after spending five seasons as an advisor for the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Clark played a starring role for the 1984 U.S. Olympic team. During the five-game Olympic tournament, Clark led the team in batting average (.429), hits (9), runs batted in (8) and tied for the team lead in home runs (3).
Playing for Mississippi State University, Clark was noted for his oft-imitated "sweet swing," said to be among the best in baseball. In 1985, The Sporting News named Clark an All-American and he later won the Golden Spikes Award from USA Baseball as the best amateur baseball player in the country. A teammate of Rafael Palmeiro, the two were known as "Thunder and Lightning."
Clark was drafted with the second overall pick in the 1985 Major League Baseball draft by the San Francisco Giants. In his inaugural major league at-bat on April 8, 1986, Clark debuted with a home run—off future Hall of Fame member Nolan Ryan. A few days later, Clark also homered in his first home game at Candlestick Park (he debuted at age 22, wearing the number 22, playing first base). An elbow injury cost Clark 47 games in his rookie season. Clark finished his rookie year with a respectable .287 batting average.
Over the next six seasons, Clark would establish himself as the premier first baseman in the National League. In his first full season in 1987, Clark had a .308 batting average. Clark was voted the starting first baseman for the NL All-Star team every season from 1988 through 1992. In 1988, Clark was the first Giants' player to drive in 90 or more runs in consecutive seasons since Bobby Murcer from 1975-1976.
His finest season was in 1989, when he batted .333 (losing the batting title to Tony Gwynn on the final day of the season) with 111 RBI. Clark finished second in the NL Most Valuable Player voting. In 1989, Clark and the Giants defeated the Chicago Cubs in the National League Championship Series. In Game 1, Clark had already hit a solo home run. Prior to a subsequent at-bat, Cubs' catcher Rick Wrona went to the mound to discuss with Greg Maddux how to pitch to Clark. From the on-deck circle, Clark watched the conversation and read Greg Maddux's lips saying "fastball high, inside." The first pitch was a fastball high and inside which Clark sent into the street beyond right field for a grand slam. Afterwards, pitchers began to cover their mouths with their gloves when having conversations on the pitcher's mound.