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David Eugene Clyde
Born: April 22, 1955 in Kansas City, Kansas
Major League Debut: June 27, 1973
Final Game: August 7, 1979
David Clyde was a prime example of what can happen to a prospect who wasn't ready for the Majors. Because the Texas Rangers hadn't drawn more than 9,000 to a game in 1973, Rangers owner Bob Short, who had signed Clyde to a $125,000 bonus after drafting him, saw in Clyde a chance to draw huge crowds to Rangers games. Therefore, he brought him directly to the Majors. The Rangers picked Clyde in the draft over the No. 3 pick Robin Yount and No. 4 pick Dave Winfield, who both went on be voted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. The Philadelphia Phillies had told Clyde they would draft him if he was available as the No. 2 pick, but they signed John Stearns instead.
Just 20 days before his Major League debut Clyde had pitched for Westchester High of Houston, Texas in the finals of the State Championship. In his last season with Westchester, he was 18-0 and struck out 328 batters in 148 innings.
Clyde made his Major League debut against the Minnesota Twins. Despite walking Jerry Terrell and Rod Carew on four pitches each, he came back to strike out Bobby Darwin, George Mitterwald, and Joe Lis, ending his first inning of pitching in the Majors. In the second inning, with a man on, he gave up a two run homer to Mike Adams, who was to hit only two more homers in his five year career in the Majors.
Clyde left the game with a 4-2 lead after five innings, after giving up 2 runs, 1 hit, 7 walks, and striking out 8. The Rangers won the game 4-3. Over 35,000 fans showed up for Clyde's debut, and Short ditched his original plan of giving Clyde two starts and sending him to the Minors when he saw what a moneymaker he had in Clyde. The Rangers averaged 18,187 when he pitched and 7,546 when he didn't pitch.
Clyde would win only three more games in his next 17 starts and finished the season with a 4-8 record with a 5.01 ERA. Clyde desperately needed to be sent to the Minors, but Short, who only cared about money, was not about to send young Clyde to the minors and lose thousands of dollars of gate receipts.
When Whitey Herzog was fired and Billy Martin was brought in, things got worse for Clyde, since Herzog was more sympathetic about the plight of Clyde. His experience with Martin and pitching coach can be summed up in this paragraph from an article which will be linked to at the end of this article from ESPN:
"Art Fowler became the new Rangers pitching coach in 1974. "Art Fowler's job was to get drunk with Billy on the road," Shropshire says. "He wouldn¹t know a release point from a whooping crane. So if David had technical problems, there was no support for him to overcome that. You couldn't have found a manager and a pitching coach more ill-suited for a pitcher like David."
In 1974, Clyde would post a 3-9 record after winning his first three starts. For some reason after he was 3-0 Billy Martin didn't let him pitch and that is probably why he didn't win another game all season since Martin didn't seem to have much confidence in young Clyde.
1975 was the last season Clyde was with the Rangers and he only pitched seven innings for the Rangers with a 0-1 record and in his last start he gave up 3 runs, 6 hits, walked 6 and struck out 2.
Clyde wouldn't surface in the Majors again till 1978 when he was traded on February 28 of that year to the Cleveland Indians. He was 8-11 with a 4.28 ERA in 1978. In 1979 he was 3-4 with a 5.91 ERA and on August 7th he played his last Major League game.
On January 4, 1980 he was traded back to Texas, but was released on March 31 before playing in a game for the Rangers.
He finished his career with a 18-33 record with a 4.63 ERA. He struck out 228 and walked 180 in 416 innings.
One of the saddest things about Clyde is that he finished his career 27 days short of being eligible for a major league pension. If not for a greedy owner who was only concerned about making a profit Clyde may have went on to become a good if not great Major League pitcher.
There is a lot about Clyde on the internet including these two articles from the Associated Press Sports Writers website dated today and the other from ESPN.com. It will be worth taking the time to read either or both of these articles. They go into great depth about how Clyde went from being a high school standout on the path to stardom to being a washed up major leaguer.