A reception between 6:30 and 7:30 p.m. will take place in the WHS junior high gymnasium prior to the 7:30 p.m. kickoff with a special presentation to be given to Clark at halftime. The reception is open to the public.
Clark graduated from the Bend Area school in 1942 and has been an avid supporter of WHS athletics to this day. The West Columbia resident participated on the first ever baseball team at Wahama before serving time in the U.S. Navy.
While in the armed forces during World War II Clark saw action at Iwo Jima, the Philippines and New Guinea. Upon his discharge Clark attended Ohio University where he was one of approximately 300 walk-on candidates trying to make the Bobcat baseball team. Clark was cut from the team that first year but was later asked by the OU baseball coach to return.
Clark declined the offer saying he would try out again the following season after devoting time to his studies during his freshman year.
The following year Mel caught the attention of professional scouts and signed a contract with the Philadelphia Phillies. He was assigned to the minor league Appleton Papermakers in the Class D league where he hit .347 during his first season of professional baseball.
In 1948 he played at Baton Rouge, Louisiana, where he again compiled a .347 batting average and set a league record with 22 triples.
Clark made it to the majors with the Phillies on September 11, 1951 after five minor league seasons where he hit .323 in 10 games before the season ended. Clark’s batting average improved to .335 in 1952 for the Phillies but a knee injury during the 1955 season shortened his diamond career.
Clark spent a total of 12 seasons in professional baseball with the Phillies and the Detroit Tigers from 1947 thru 1958. He concluded his major league career with an impressive .277 batting average while also hitting an inspiring .298 during his minor league playing days.
Mel and the former Sally Lou Roush were married in 1948 and recently celebrated their 61st anniversary. Mel and Sally are the parents of two children, Brent (Amanda) Clark and Barbara (Dr. Charles) Davis and have six grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.