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'The Thrill' to pave 'Giants Way"


'The Thrill' to pave 'Giants Way
Managing partner Bill Neukom has hired his unofficial minister of the "Giants Way," and he comes with a thick application of eye black.

The Giants announced the hiring of former All-Star first baseman Will Clark as a special assistant Wednesday, re-establishing an important tie with one of their most popular players over the past three decades.

Roughly two-thirds of Clark's time on the clock will be spent at community and sponsor events, Neukom said. "The Thrill" also will spend two weeks as a guest instructor in spring training and make occasional visits to minor league affiliates, working under the direction of manager Bruce Bochy.

Clark will attend FanFest on Feb. 7; it'll be his first appearance as a Giant since he departed as a free agent after the 1993 season.

"This was my longest tenured team, the team I grew up with and made it to the World Series with," said Clark, who was the National League Championship Series MVP for the '89 squad. "It'll be a very proud moment when I get a chance to put on that uniform again."

Clark, 44, signed a one-year contract but said he anticipates a long-standing relationship with the organization.

He had spent the past four seasons as a special assistant in the Arizona Diamondbacks front office, a position to which former agent Jeff Moorad recruited him. Earlier this month, Moorad resigned his stake in the Diamondbacks in order to front a group that is purchasing the San Diego Padres.

Even before Moorad's departure, Clark said Giants officials began lobbying for him to rejoin the organization that drafted and developed him.

For Neukom, who is authoring the tenets of a new organizational culture, Clark is the embodiment of the "Giants Way."

"He did it all and did it the right way," Neukom said. "He went into every game prepared, always had an approach coming to bat and made the most of his opportunities in the batter's box. He had an appreciation for all the elements that make for winning Baseball at the major league level."

Clark's hiring might be the biggest coup for the club's marketing department, which not surprisingly, is finding season ticket packages and corporate sponsorships a tougher sell in a challenging economy.

While Willie Mays and Willie McCovey are legendary figures, Neukom acknowledged that Clark probably has a stronger emotional connection to Giants fans with buying power in their 20s and 30s.

"We recognized that we have these great Giants players from teams in the '60s, but we weren't paying enough attention to the players that a large percentage of our most ardent fans grew up with," Neukom said. "We wanted to re-establish that connection with our fan base, and Will is at the center of that."

Clark went from first-round pick in 1985 to established big-league star in little more than two years, playing with a brash style that helped to usher in an era of winning Baseball. He sees parallels with the current crop of young Giants.

"Two years after we got called up, we were in the playoffs, and after four years, we were in the World Series," he said. "It can definitely happen."

Contact Andrew Baggarly at abaggarly@mercurynews.com


Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: January 29, 2009

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