STARKVILLE, Miss. - In 1985 he helped lead Mississippi State's Baseball Bulldogs to Rosenblatt Stadium in Omaha, Neb., and a school-best third place finished in the NCAA College World Series. Now, some 25 years later, Will Clark is returning to Omaha as a member of the 28-player College World Series Legends Team. The all-star team, representing 60 years of CWS competition at the venerable baseball park, was announced Thursday by the NCAA and College World Series, Inc.
"I'm very proud to be selected by the voters for the Legends Team," said Clark, who starred at Mississippi State from 1983 to 1985 before embarking on a 15-year career in major league baseball. "It's a great honor to be included with the elite of college baseball that got the opportunity to play at Rosenblatt Stadium."
Rosenblatt Stadium, named for former Omaha mayor Johnny Rosenblatt, ends its run as the home ball park for college baseball's national championship event with next month's NCAA College World Series. The facility will be replaced by a new stadium currently under construction in downtown Omaha.
More than 100,000 votes were cast for the CWS Legends Team by college baseball fans, writers and Division I baseball head coaches this spring. The original list of 95 nominees, all former CWS participants was pared down to the 28-member squad that will be invited to be guests of the NCAA at this year's CWS and take part in on-field opening-day ceremonies June 18 saluting Rosenblatt Stadium.
The selection was basely solely on the players' performance when competing in the College World Series. In four games at the '85 CWS Clark went 7-for-15 (.467) with a double, a triple, two home runs, five RBI, six runs scored and three walks and was named to the 1985 CWS All-Tournament Team. State, in the fourth of its eight CWS advancements, posted a 50-15 record and finished tied for third in the College World Series, the program's highest national finish.
Clark, who resides in Baton Rouge, La., nipped another eventual MLB great, University of Minnesota outfielder Dave Winfield, as the leading vote getter in the balloting. He was one of three Southeastern Conference players named to the team, joining LSU's Todd Walker and South Carolina's Landon Powell. Another Baton Rouge resident, former LSU coach Skip Bertman, was one of three coaches named to the CWS Legends team.
"When we played at Rosenblatt Stadium in 1985, the College World Series was in its infancy as far as national exposure," continued Clark. "Now look at it, with crowds of 25,000 to 30,000 at Rosenblatt, national television coverage on ESPN and an audience in the millions, it's grown into a major a national event."
The CWS Legends team includes a veritable who's who of college baseball, including the likes of eventual major league stars Sal Bando, Barry Bonds, J.D. Drew, Terry Francona, Nomar Garciapara, Burt Hooten, Bob Horner, Pete Incaviglia, Mark Kotsay, Fred Lynn, and Robin Ventura.