Will Clark (born March 13, 1964 in New Orleans, Louisiana) is a former first baseman in Major League Baseball best known for his play with the San Francisco Giants from 1986 to 1993. He was recognized by his peers as being one of the best clutch players of his time, and possessed of a fiery intensity. While he earned the nicknames of "Will the Thrill" (a name given to him by his Giants teammate Bob Brenly) and "The Natural" because of his talents, his competitive nature also earned him a reputation of being extremely cocky and arrogant. In 1985, as a member of the Mississippi State baseball team, Clark was named the first baseman on The Sporting News' All-American team, as well as the winner of the Golden Spikes Award from USA Baseball. Clark was drafted with the second overall pick in the 1985 draft by the San Francisco Giants. In his first Major League at-bat, on April 8, 1986 Clark hit a first-pitch home run off of future Hall-of-Famer Nolan Ryan.
In 1989 Clark and the Giants defeated the Chicago Cubs in the National League Championship Series. In Game 1, Clark hit a grand slam off of Greg Maddux, and in the decisive Game 5, drove in two runs off of pitcher Mitch Williams to break up a 1-1 tie in the bottom of the 8th inning. Clark also recorded the final putout of the game. Clark's efforts, which included a .650 batting average and two home runs, resulted in him being named MVP for the series. The Giants went on to face the Oakland Athletics in the 1989 World Series, but were swept in 4 games. In the only World Series appearance of his career, Clark failed to contribute significantly at the plate, with no runs batted in and a .250 batting average. In each of Clark's remaining four years with the Giants they failed to reach the playoffs. The closest Clark came to once again reaching the postseason as a San Francisco Giant was in his final year with the team, 1993. That year, the Giants won 103 games, which was only one less than the Atlanta Braves.
After the 1993 season, Clark signed with the Texas Rangers, near his home in Louisiana. Clark helped the Rangers reach the playoffs in 1996 and 1998, but in both years the team was defeated in the American League Divisional Series by the New York Yankees. Clark again delivered poor playoff performances, going only 3 for 27 across both series.
Clark joined the Baltimore Orioles for the 1998 season, and spent nearly two years with the club, but was plagued by injuries. The lone bright spot of those seasons was collecting his 2000th hit on June 15 versus the Kansas City Royals.
Clark was traded to the St. Louis Cardinals near the end of the 2000 season, acquired in part to play in place of the injured Mark McGwire. A rejuvenated Clark (.964 OPS) helped the Cardinals reach the playoffs, and the team swept the Atlanta Braves in the NLDS. In the NLCS the Cardinals faced the New York Mets, who would go on to win the pennant, and lost in five games. Clark performed better in these playoffs (.345 BA) than in recent years. After announcing that his retirement would come when the Cardinal's playoff run ended, Clark went 1 for 3 in his final game on October 16, 2000.
Clark appeared on the Baseball Hall of Fame ballot in 2006, his first year of eligibility, but fell three votes shy of the 5f the vote required to remain on the ballot the following year. Therefore, he will no longer appear on future ballots, but could still be inducted via the Veterans Committee once 20 years have passed from his date of retirement.