Tony Clark named first former MLBer to run players' union

Tony Clark, left, the newly named executive director

Tony Clark, left, the newly named executive director of the Major League Baseball Players Association, finds humor in a question during a news conference at the organizations' annual meeting in San Diego. (Dec. 3, 2013) Photo Credit: AP

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SAN DIEGO -- Tony Clark said he's "blown away" that he is the first former major leaguer to become head of the baseball players' union.

The executive board of the Major League Baseball Players Association voted unanimously Tuesday to appoint Clark to replace Michael Weiner, who died Nov. 22 of brain cancer. The decision is pending a vote of the general membership.

Clark was an All-Star in 2001 and played for 15 seasons with Detroit, Arizona, the New York Mets, New York Yankees, Boston and San Diego. The 41-year-old was appointed deputy executive director in July and had been acting executive director since Weiner's death.

The executive board is meeting at Torrey Pines in San Diego. Clark went to high school in the San Diego area and played basketball at San Diego State.

After retiring during the 2009 season, Clark had opportunities in broadcasting and coaching.

Instead, he said he woke up one day and told his wife that he should work for the players' union, "having no idea that we would be sitting before you, Dec. 3, 2013, in this capacity, but appreciating all the while that Michael's vision for our organization, my involvement with it, and the hope and having and making a difference for our group, active and inactive and those that are coming next, was the final decision-maker for me."

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Clark joined the MLBPA staff in March 2010 as director of player relations.

He got active in union affairs after attending his first executive board meeting in 1999. From there he became a team player representative, before spending his last seven seasons as an association representative. As a player, Clark was actively involved in 2002 and 2006 collective bargaining as well as negotiations on revisions to the Joint Drug Agreement.

"I expected to be tied to the hip with Michael for 20 years," Clark said. "He rides off into the sunset, I ride off into the sunset, we ride off into the sunset, having, Lord willing, affected the game positively. Blown away, yes. Humbled, yes. Excited to carry on the vision that Michael put into place, yes. ... Focused, not just now but going forward on what we stand for, who we are and how we've arrived at the place we've arrived? Blown away, yes."

Jeremy Guthrie of the Kansas City Royals calls this "a unique time" for the union and says he can't think of a former player who's as prepared, intelligent, powerful and knowledge as Clark to take the job.

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