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Philadelphia Daily News from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania • Page 74

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
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PAGE 74 THE PHILADELPHIA DAILY NEWS WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 18, 1993 uddenly, he's hit hisstridG Clark's RBI total is baseball's best by Ted Silary 5v. Or- -it '4 -W Penn State arena delayed State officials have thrown out all bids to build Penn State's new basketball gym, a move that will delay the arena's opening until at least the fall of 1995. The low bid for the project was $11.3 million above the $53.8 million budgeted. "The secretary of general services has rejected all bids and asked the architects to do some minor redesign," said Rose Wuenschel, a spokeswoman for the department. "We will be rebidding the project in September." The school originally had hoped to begin playing in the new arena sometime in the 1994-95 season.

Now the Nittany Lions must play all of the next two basketball seasons in Recreation Hall. The state share of the project is $33.8 million. The gym will be named after Bryce Jordan, Penn State's president when the project was started. PRO BASKETBALL The Houston Rockets signed their first-round draft choice, Florida State guard Sam Cassell, to a conditional, five-year contract that will guarantee him $2.53 million in the first three years. The fourth and fifth years could be guaranteed if Cassell achieves certain incentives.

If the Rockets do not guarantee the fourth year, he could become a free agent in his fifth year. HOCKEY Paul Kariya, the Anaheim Mighty Ducks' top pick in the NHL draft, will return to the University of Maine for the fall semester before joining the Canadian Olympic team in mid-December. Kariya led the Black Bears to the NCAA title last season and was the first freshman to win the Hobey Baker Award as the college player of the year. Steve Summers, hockey writer for The Harrisburg Patriot-News, died at his home in Upper Allen Township after a two-year battle with cancer. He was 52.

SPORT STOPS Roberto Duran (90-9) handed Shawn Fitzgerald (17-1-2) his first professional loss with a sixth-round knockout in Bay St. Louis, Miss. It was the 62d career knockout for the 42-year-old Duran. Rookie NASCAR driver P.J. Jones brushed the wall during testing at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, but wasn't hurt.

The son of 1963 Indianapolis 500 winner Parnelli Jones is one of the drivers participating in two days of tests in preparation for next year's inaugural Brickyard 400. Jimmy Connors will not play in the U.S. Open, the New York Daily News xeported. PHILLY FILE Susquehanna University named Jodi Bell women's lacrosse coach and Bill Switala women's volleyball coach. Bell, who also will become the school's assistant trainer, had been a lacrosse assist-jant at Ridley HighTB (l Compiled from wire reports.

DARRALD BENNETT Roman grad Tim Clark could wind up Baseball Amenca's Minor League Player of Year again. Going isn't the word for it. Clark is thriving. Being surrounded by good players is part of the reason. High Desert, which plays in Ade-lanto, smack in the Mojave Desert, leads the second-half standings in the Western Division after winning the first half.

But much of the reason, Clark feels, is his mental approach. "The pressure might be off a little bit," he said. "After you get drafted, you set such high standards. You press hard. After you get released When I went to Salt Lake, I told myself I was just going to have fun.

Daily News Sports Writer Tim Clark's professional baseball road already has featured one detour and one dead end. Bui right now it's paved with yellow bricks. Clark, a 1987 graduate of Roman Catholic High, leads all professional baseball in runs batted in this season with 118. Sixteen months ago, he was back home in Roxborough. feeling betrayed over how his pro career had "ended." "It is kind of weird," he said, "how everything has turned out." Clark now is playing first base for the High Desert Mavericks, the Florida Marlins' affiliate in the Class A California League.

In 114 games through Monday, he was hitting a league-leading .370 with 39 doubles, nine triples, 15 home runs and a .593 slugging percentage in addition to the whopping RBI total. Clark is one of 12 players being considered for Baseball America's coveted Minor League Player of the Year honor. The story of how he reached these heights is a doozy. In-1990, the lefthanded batter and thrower helped Louisiana State University reach the College World Series and was an eighth-round pick of the Milwaukee Brewers. He hit productively at low-A Beloit in "90 and high-A Stockton in '91 and allowed himself to dream of advancing to Double A in '92.

Then he got an offseason phone call. "They said they had some good outfielders In the system." Clark said, "and that they wanted to make me a pitcher. I said I'd try. They thought I had a good enough arm." They were wrong. "I didn't throw hard enough," Clark said.

"They cut me at the end of spring training." Though stung and bewildered, Clark maintained his love for the game. He played for 21st Ward in the semipro Pen-Del Ixague and hoped that some pro team would find room on its roster. The team that found room was Salt Lake City, of the Pioneer Rookie League. A team with no major league affiliation. A team for longshots and castoffs that played in a lower-level league than where Clark had started.

"I'd been thinking, 'Maybe pro baseball is he said. "But Salt Lake's personnel man. Van Schley, had checked on every team's released guys. After being home for about a month and a half, I didn't have any other option. No interest from 'regular' teams.

He offered me a chance, so I took it." In 69 games at Salt Lake, Clark led the league in hitting (357) and doubles (24). He also had 11 home runs and 53 RBI. On Aug. 1, Schley summoned Clark to his office and hit him with another, much more pleasant shock. He had been sold to Florida.

(The Marlins operated two minor league teams in "92 and constantly were signing other players in preparation for a nearly full-scale operation this year.) "I fead no say in the matter," Clark said. "I walked in and Schley said, 'You're now a Flarida But I was That' why rd'gmic uui nheir; 10'ge-r-my-cdic'crping" Toale and Clark bat fourth and fifth, respectively. "Everybody thinks there's a big rivalry between them. That's not true," said leftfielder Scott Samuels. Clark's roommate.

"They hear teasing from us about the RBI race, but you never hear them talking about it to each other. "Toale's kind of slow afoot, but hits the ball far. Clarkie is more of the line-drive hitter, although recently he's been on a power surge" witness a two-homer game last Sunday. If there's a negative in all this, it's that Clark is doing the damage in the same league in which he played two years ago. He hasn't earned a promotion because Florida has no Double A affiliate.

"There just wasn't a chance for him to jump to Triple said Dan Lunetta, the Marlins' director of minor league administration. "We have some good prospects there." Until recently, the 6-3, 210-pound Clark was an outfielder and designated hitter. He was moved to first base to increase his value and also because the Marlins feel he might have enough power to play that position. "At the time I got signed by Florida, I didn't realize they wouldn't have a Double A team," Clark said. "There are a ton of guys on this team who could play in Double easily.

We'll see where we go from here next year. "Year after year, you learn more and more about hitting. In the big leagues, it's not so much how nasty a guy's stuff is. There are lots of pitchers with nasty stuff in A ball. They just don't have the command that pitchers do as you go higher.

As a hitter, you have to be selective." As a guy who dreams of making the major rjqagpes, ClarkHoqwsc sgraeUuBg else. 1 Maybe I appreciate the game more now, what it takes to do well. I know how close I came to not playing it anymore. 5J Tim Clark "Maybe I appreciate the game more now, what it takes to do well. 1 wouldn't say I ever took it for granted, but now I have much more respect for it I know how close I came to not playing it anymore." Getting back to those good players at High Desert, be advised that Clark's closest pursuer in pro baseball's RBI race is his teammate, outfielder John Toale.

Toale has 116 and leads the California league in homers with 28. Still another Maverick'; third baseman Brjnt Kdsco.soqii.wjJJ, gq PTBryWRBI. Hi has 6, alag-tb-2a4oraOTs..

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