Leading Off: Should the Giants stop issuing jersey No. 22?

08/13/2013 12:00 AM

08/14/2013 7:17 PM

Quick, what jersey number did the Giants issue catcher Mike Matheny in 2005 when he played the first of his two seasons in San Francisco?

How about past-his-prime Eric Davis in a forgettable 2001 season with the Giants or Dustan Mohr in 2004?

If you're a Giants fan of a certain age, there is only one Giant you remember wearing jersey No. 22.

Will Clark.

"The Thrill."

"The Natural."

Clark, who played eight memorable seasons in San Francisco, had an excellent career and garnered some votes for baseball's Hall of Fame.

In 15 seasons, Clark averaged .303, hit 284 home runs and had 1,205 RBIs. He played in six All-Star Games.

Despite those numbers, Giants fans can accept the fact Clark will never have a plaque in Cooperstown, N.Y. But what most fans can't accept is the franchise handing out his No. 22 jersey year after year to players who will never measure up to one of the most popular players in the San Francisco era. In fact, 18 Giants have been issued jersey No. 22 – two this season – since Clark left in 1993.

None, by the way, homered off Nolan Ryan in his first at bat.

Willie Mays and Willie McCovey rank atop the Giants' all-time fan favorites. Although Clark will never have a statue outside AT&T Park, he is arguably just as popular – if not more – than Orlando Cepeda, Juan Marichal and certainly Barry Bonds. The four Giants legends, excluding Bonds, have statues.

Bonds was a better player than Clark, but Clark was more loved for his enthusiasm and clutch hits. And the only juice Clark ever took came in 12- or 16-ounce frosty cans.

It's understandable that the Giants likely will never officially retire No. 22. But they should at least place jersey No. 22 in the same closet with the Crazy Crab mascot outfit and throw the key into McCovey Cove.

Today's poll

What should the Giants do with jersey No. 22?

Officially retire it.

Store it away for good.

Keep handing it out.

To vote, go to www.sacbee.com/sports

Monday's poll results

Will Tiger Woods break Jack Nicklaus' record of 18 major tournament victories?

Yes: 48%

No: 52%

Total votes: 185

Call The Bee's Victor Contreras, (916) 326-5527. Follow him on Twitter @SacBeeVictor.


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