The movie Rounders teaches us that there are two types of gamblers. There's the gambler who makes a run at making it big, and there's the gambler that grinds it out.
So too with baseball.
Doug Clark is a grinder. I first met him in 2005 at the Giants' spring training camp. By then, he already possessed tweny-nine years, and, having been drafted in 1998, he already possessed the baseball equivalent of hair on his chest.
I entered spring training that year filled with wonderment and uncertainty. After all, it was my first spring training. Doug entered spring training that year cool and composed. It was his seventh spring training.
After spring training, we made our separate ways. I played with him briefly at the end of 2005 when I played a fleeting 10-day stint in Triple-A. The next season, he played in the A's organization, and I never played with him again.
Doug made short appearances in the big leagues in both 2005 and 2006. With one hit in twelve at-bats, he never played in the big leagues again. I knew he went to Korea for a couple of seasons, but I assumed that, by now, he would be retired. After all, I've been retired for three years already.
I was wrong.
This morning I woke up and saw the highlights of the final game of the Caribbean World Series. To my surprise, Doug Clark hit the game-winning homerun.
At thirty-six, he's still grinding it out. He might not love the game the way that he once loved it. The twinkle in the eye and that naive wonderment, the beautiful and raw emotions that I possessed that spring training of 2005, have long left Doug. But he's earning a good living, playing a boyhood game.
He may not be Joseph Campbell's Hero with a Thousand Faces, but today, somewhere in Mexico, he's a hero just the same.