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Celebrate Father's Day with the six 'Dads' from Major League history

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Happy Father's Day, everybody. Fewer words are more synonymous with each other than "Dad" and "baseball," and today we celebrate both.

Surely you'll come across some internet posts about the best father-son combos in baseball history, or perhaps a rundown of the cutest dad-kid interactions posted on social media by your favorite current big leaguers. This is not that post. In other words, this is not your father's Father's Day post.

This is an undisputed list of the six best guys named "Dad" in Major League history.  

BryantDad

1. Dad Clark 

  • Real name: Alfred Robert Clark

  • Years played: 1902

  • Position: First base

  • Career line: .185/.255/.209 in 49 plate appearances; -0.4 WAR

  • MLB teams played for: Chicago Orphans

  • MiLB teams played for: Kansas City Blue Stockings, Peoria Distillers, Helena Senators, Butte Fruit Pickers, Salt Lake City Elders, Bellingham Gillnetters, St. Joseph Drummers, Boise Irrigators

  • About: Clark had a far more illustrious career at the Minor League level, where he played for over a dozen remarkably-named teams across the Midwest and West Coast. Just like so many dads before and after him, Dad Clark even managed a few teams, serving as a player-manager during his stops in Salt Lake City, Bellingham and Boise.

2. Dad Clarke

DadClarke

(via Library of Congress)

  • Real name: William H. Clarke

  • Years played: 1888, 1891, 1894-1898

  • Position: Right-handed pitcher

  • Career line: 4.16 ERA in 850.1 IP; 6.7 WAR

  • MLB teams played for: Chicago White Stockings, Columbus Solons, New York Giants, Louisville Colonels

  • MiLB teams played for: Des Moines Hawkeyes, Sandusky Suds, San Francisco Haverlys, Omaha Omahogs, Toledo Black Pirates, Erie Blackbirds, Jacksonville Lunatics, Butte Smoke Eaters, Worcester Farmers

  • About: Clarke earned the "Dad" moniker because he always looked older than his actual age. The right-hander had a few cups of coffee in the big leagues in 1888 and 1891, but didn't really break in until 1894 with the New York Giants. He had long demonstrated promise in the Minors, posting two (!) 30-plus win seasons, first with Omaha in 1889 and 10 with Erie in 1893. While the bulk of his success at the big league level took place with the Giants from 1894-1897, perhaps Clarke's most infamous moment occurred back in 1888, and featured a run-in with Hall of Famer Cap Anson:

While pitching in an exhibition game, Anson began to criticize Clarke from the bench. The temperamental pitcher hurled the ball at Anson, striking him in the stomach. Anson picked up a bat and began chasing Clarke, who escaped by scaling the ballpark fence.

The two men had an ongoing feud over the years, and several years later Anson got his revenge. In 1895 the White Stockings were playing in New York and Clarke was on the mound for the Giants. Anson was coaching first base and insisted the ball was damaged, demanding Clarke turn it over to the home-plate umpire for inspection. Clarke refused and finally angrily tossed the ball over to Anson and said, "Here, look for yourself." Anson stepped aside and let the ball roll away while the White Stocking baserunners advanced.

Sometimes it feels like baseball during this era was just an elaborate Three Stooges sketch. If only they had the technology to fully document it. Imagine the GIFs!

3. Dad Clarkson

  • Real name: Arthur Hamilton Clarkson

  • Years played: 1891-1896

  • Position: Right-handed pitcher

  • Career line: 4.90 ERA in 704.2 IP; 5.3 WAR

  • MLB teams played for: New York Giants, Boston Beaneaters, St. Louis Browns, Baltimore Orioles

  • MiLB leams played for: Chicago Maroons, Lima Lushers, St. Paul Apostles, New Haven Nutmegs, Anaconda Serpents

  • About: Clarkson played on the Harvard University baseball team before eventually making it to the big leagues with the New York Giants in 1891. His best season (3.48 ERA in 186.1 IP) came in 1893 for the St. Louis Browns, a team that also featured a starting pitcher named Kid Gleason. The Dad-Kid 1-2 punch unfortunately wasn't enough for the Browns, who finished 57-75.

4. Dad Hale

  • Real name: Ray Luther Hale

  • Years played: 1902

  • Position: Right-handed pitcher

  • Career line: 5.67 ERA in 54.0 IP; -1.7 WAR

  • MLB teams: Boston Beaneaters, Baltimore Orioles

  • MiLB teams: Memphis Egyptians, Montgomery Senators, Dayton Veterans, Grand Rapids Furniture Makers

  • About: Hale made seven unremarkable starts in the big leagues in 1902, five for the Beaneaters and two for the Orioles, before descending to the Minors for the next few years and finishing his career with a team literally named The Furniture Makers. All due respect to the Jumbo Shrimp, Baby Cakes and the Rumble Ponies, but who wouldn't want to play for the Furniture Makers?

5. Dad Lytle

  • Real name: Edward Benson Lytle

  • Years played: 1890

  • Position: Second base/outfield

  • Career line: .136/.239/.153 in 67 plate appearances; -0.5 WAR

  • MLB teams played for: Chicago Cubs, Pittsburg Alleghenys

  • MiLB teams played for: Wheeling Nailers, Portland Gladiators, Los Angeles Seraphs, Binghamton Bingoes, Wilkes-Barre Coal Barons, Rochester Brownies

  • About: Lytle's 12-year professional career featured a mere 16 games at the Major League level, 15 of which unfortunately came with the 1890 Pittsburg Alleghenys, the team with the second-worst record in big league history -- 23-113. He would go on to play another decade in the Minors, with his best season coming in 1894, when he hit .338 in the Eastern League.

6. Dad Meek

  • Real name: Frank J. Meek

  • Years played: 1889-1890

  • Position: Catcher

  • Career line: .333/.333/.333 in 18 plate appearances; 0.0 WAR

  • MLB teams: St. Louis Browns

  • MiLB teams: Emporia Reds, Quincy Ravens

  • About: Meek's time in the Majors with the Browns was cut short when he committed a throwing error in extra innings against Louisville that allowed the winning runs to score, making the St. Louis higher-ups unhappy with his play. They released him a few days later.

So while we know there have been countless awesome dads throughout baseball history, we can at least all agree on these six players from yesteryear as the cream of the crop.

Only one question remains: Who was the greatest "Dad" in Major League history? 

 

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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