ARLINGTON — David Clyde stood by the first base line at Globe Life Field on Thursday, just a few blocks away from where he made his major league debut a lifetime ago.
One reporter asked Clyde how much things have changed since his introduction to professional baseball five decades ago.
“Changed?” Clyde said as he stared up at the Globe Life Field roof above his head. “It’s like we’re on a different planet.”
Indeed, things are different around Arlington and within the Texas Rangers organization now than they were half a century ago. A roofed, air-conditioned stadium, most notably to those who played in the Texas summer heat, is among them.
But, at the same time, the past doesn’t feel all that long ago to Clyde, who made his MLB debut as an 18-year-old with the Rangers 50 years ago on June 27, 1973.
“Seems like just yesterday,” Clyde said. “I understand it’s been 50 years, a lot of water is under the bridge, but it feels like just yesterday.”
The Rangers are honoring David Clyde — who made his MLB debut with Texas as an 18-year-old 50 years ago — tonight before the game.
Bruce Bochy met him for the first time during BP.
“I had followed it,” Bochy said. “It created a lot of excitement, interest.” pic.twitter.com/cJszFbAFP3
— Shawn McFarland (@McFarland_Shawn) June 27, 2023
Clyde, now 68, was drafted first overall by the Rangers in the 1973 MLB Draft out of Houston Westchester. Cash-strapped and desperate to drive up attendance, the Rangers fast-tracked Clyde to the majors. He made his MLB debut just 20 days after he pitched his final high school game in front of a crowd of 35,000 — the first-ever sellout at Arlington Stadium — and pitched five innings of one-hit ball vs. the Minnesota Twins.
The original plan had been for Clyde to make his first two professional starts with the Rangers before he moved down to the minor leagues, but the fanfare that came with his debut prompted Rangers owner Bob Short to keep Clyde in the majors. The mismanagement of his injuries (he first developed shoulder issues in 1975) and development led to Clyde — once billed as the second coming of Sandy Koufax — lasting just five seasons in MLB.
“The Rangers have been good to me over the years,” Clyde said. “But, based on the history of the Rangers, it might’ve been the worst decision to have Texas draft me.”
The Rangers honored Clyde prior to the start of Tuesday’s game vs. the Detroit Tigers at Globe Life Field. He was presented with a framed No. 32 jersey prior to the game. Because of recent shoulder surgery — his fifth, Clyde said — the man of honor wasn’t able to throw out the first pitch. So Bill Gogolewski, who relieved Clyde in the sixth inning of his debut five decades ago, did. He threw a strike to Rangers Hall of Famer Tom Grieve, Clyde’s former teammate.
Because of a recent shoulder surgery (his fifth), Clyde couldn’t throw out the first pitch.
So Bill Gogolewski — who relieved Clyde in his MLB debut — did. pic.twitter.com/m0g47rgs68
— Shawn McFarland (@McFarland_Shawn) June 28, 2023
A happy reunion born from an otherwise cautionary tale, one that Clyde hopes MLB teams have learned this much from: “Let’s not do that again,” he said.
“We have to first and foremost understand that baseball is a business,” Clyde continued. “It’s an even bigger business now than it was 50 years ago. But we also have to realize that a lot of times, when we draft young players, we’re investing in the future … out of my career, I hope that they learned, let’s not rush talent. Let’s develop it, let’s look to the future, not just today.”
On Twitter: @McFarland_Shawn
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