Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Astros MiLB Alumni: RHP Kirk Clark

In the latest in an ongoing series, we catch up with another former Astros farmhand to hear about life after minor league baseball. Today we hear from Kirk Clark, a non-drafted free agent and righthanded bullpen catcher/closer who toiled in the Astros system from 2009 through 2012.




WTHB: Can you tell me a little about what you've been doing since you were with the Astros (and your latest happy news as well)?

KC: Well, let's start at the beginning. I was released by the Astros July 20, 2012 (the day after my birthday). That time was literally probably the worst time of my life. My sister was diagnosed with cancer and my father had a stroke. So the 2012 season was a rough one from the start. I then signed with the Schaumburg Boomers and pitched very well. From there I headed to the American Association and played with the Sioux Falls Canaries for 1-1/2 years. After that I headed to Quebec City which was an amazing experience. During my time in Quebec I received a random phone call from the Head Coach from Wayne State College, a Division 2 school in Nebraska. I initially told them no because I wanted to finish my last season. They ended up calling me back in the morning and told me they'd love to have me once the season is over. So I am now the Pitching Coach/Recruiting Coordinator at Wayne State. I asked my girlfriend of 2-1/2 years to marry me a week ago and she, of course, said yes. So my life has changed quite a bit over the last year. We're currently looking at houses and getting married in October 2016. My goal is still to get to the big leagues, just in another way now. Coaching, scouting, whatever. Just looking for another opportunity.

WTHB: What one memory (or more) will you take with you from your time with the Astros organization?

KC: Ohhh the memories. One thing I love to see is the guys I played with succeed. JD Martinez, Jake Goebbert, Jose Altuve, Jose Cisnero, and the list goes on. Of course the individual records will always be with me as well, saving 29 games in Lexington, and getting an opportunity to pitch in a big league game and all-star game. I made noise as a non-drafted guy. Setting records and getting an appearance in a big league game ... that was enough for me. I really thank the Astros for giving me an opportunity to chase after my dream. I also got to meet a lot of great guys. I still keep in touch with some of the guys such as Jordan Comadena, Adam Champion, Mike Ness, Dan Sarisky and Jonny Meyer. There are a few others that I kept in contact with kicking around indy ball. We are all brothers and have gone through some crazy things: long bus rides, longer nights, early mornings, wins, losses, punch outs, bench clearings, injuries, walk offs (good and bad), hotel casinos, taxi rides and so on. Special Thanks to all my managers, pitching coaches, and so on. And last I will never forget this... Fred Nelson [the Astros former Director of Player Development] didn't know my name... he always called me Chris.

WTHB: What life lesson have you taken from your time playing minor league and independent baseball?

KC: The baseball family is smaller than you think. Everyone has their own stories. Everyone knows someone that you know so everyone is connected in a way. Always be the best person you can be because you never know how that will aid you in the future. That's literally how I got my job now. They knew I knew the game and it came down to when he asked people who coached me if I was a good guy or not. Also, baseball is an absolute GRIND. 140 games you get to prove yourself. I was always a fast starter so I always did well my first few months and would struggle in July. Make sure to keep doing what you're doing. You'll have more peaks than valleys. Don't get down on yourself ... as soon as you do, you'll be done and it'll be too late. Don't forget to have fun. This isn't a miserable experience. I get that it sounds stupid, but a lot of people forget to have fun.

WTHB: What advice would you give to a player whose dream gets cut short?

KC: Don't stop chasing till you're ready to. I get it ... you're getting older and you want more than $500 in your bank account at a time, and you want to move out of your parents place. You have the rest of your life to grow up even if you play till your 30, you'll get 35 years of real life work for the 8 years you put into playing. Trust me when I say there are plenty of places to play. I just gave up ball in September, and when January hit I started working out and throwing to get into shape just in case I get to throw a few innings this summer for a random team somewhere. It just got to the point for me that playing the game was no longer a priority for me. I want to be able to be around family, get married, and so on. I dedicated everything since I was in high school to the game of baseball and I just couldn't do that full-time anymore. I said to myself when I got to that point I won't hang around and keep playing, because you're just taking up someone's spot who sitting at home.

WTHB: What would you like to say to the friends and fans you've made along the way?

KC: Thank you. Thank you to Rip and Missy in New York. They're some of the greatest people I've ever met. Thank you to my host mom Kim in Lexington and all the other host families. You guys were absolutely amazing. Thank you to all the host families in Lancaster. Thanks to all the bloggers who were behind me climbing the ladder. I promised myself I will make it back to all of those places sometime in the near future to hang with everyone in the stands and enjoy a ball game. I will never ever forget the time I spent in each place and thank you for making that special.

Thank you for sharing your story, Kirk! Best of luck with life after minor league baseball.

>>>>>>><<<<<<<

It's only 8 days until the minor league season will be upon us! Time to purchase the 2015 Houston Farm System Handbook!

2 comments:

  1. Jane, any word yet on the Hooks roster?

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    1. Sorry, I just saw this comment. Rosters are out and Dustin posted them last night.

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