The other day Daniel Henninger wrote an otherwise worthless column: Will McCain Waste Palin which got me to thinking in ways that probably never occurred to Henninger.

I started thinking about David Clyde.

As they say, lemme ‘splain:

Sarah Palin is a woman of modest but unrefined political skills. She gives a good speech, has a definable image, exhibits strong political instincts, is relentlessly  opportunistic, and stays on message no matter how stupid it makes her look. Regardless of what you may think, these are desirable qualities when you’re looking for candidates for the highest office(s) in the land. Policy, depth of knowledge, details…that’s for the wonks and political creatures from Chief of Staff on down.

Unfortunately, because the Republican bench was so thin (Lieberman – a putative Democrat, Pawlenty – dull as dirt, Romney – arrogant, rich, flipping-flopping, religious cultist) the powers that be were forced to turn their lonely eyes to Alaska Governor Sarah Palin. It was a desperation move, but they had to put some voters in the voting booth in order to stand a chance this year.

Palin was unvetted, untried in the "outside" world, and has been proven to be unseasoned and overwhelmed by the media spotlight. Although she carries a lot of baggage from Alaska, compared to what we’re used to, it’s pretty small potatoes; unfortunately at this juncture of the game so is she. With a bit work, some judicious covering-up and paying off, and a few years in the minors that is Alaskan politics, she could have been a perfectly viable candidate… in 2012. But the presidential election is this year and so they called her up and crossed their fingers hoping for luck and a few breaks along the way. Now it looks like they’re burning up her political future and, after all of the hits she’s been taking, I don’t think she’s ever going to get a call back for an encore.

(For the record, I truly believe that her political worm turned the moment that Tine Fey said, "I can see Russia from my house." I can’t tell you how many times that often replayed snip gets brought up when discussing Palin.)

Which brings us to the story of David Clyde:

DAVID CLYDE COULD HAVE been a more sympathetic figure. Instead, he became an example of what can happen to the potential of a young baseball player when the men with the money force unrealistic expectations on his arm.

Bob Short owned the Texas Rangers in 1973. The team was a flop in the Lone Star State two years after moving from Washington D.C. The Rangers had failed to attract more than 9,000 to a game all season.

That June, the franchise used its No. 1 overall pick in the amateur draft on Clyde, an 18-year-old Texas phenom with a sizzling fastball and name recognition.


Short saw an opportunity to stir interest in his foundering franchise by throwing Clyde into the Rangers’ starting rotation. It worked perfectly.

The excitement the homegrown prospect generated led to the first sellout ever at Arlington Stadium. Clyde was on the mound in a Rangers uniform June 27, 1973, in front of a crowd of 35,698 only 20 days after pitching Westchester High School to the state finals.

"The correlation I felt was like going from high school to performing open-heart surgery," Clyde once said. "I felt that’s how much better I had to be."


In his final high school season, Clyde nearly had been unhittable. He went 18-0, allowing three earned runs in 148 innings. Most people conveniently forgot that those numbers were registered against skinny teen-agers, not seasoned major league hitters. A lot was expected, no matter how unrealistic those expectations were.

Clyde walked the first two Minnesota batters he faced that day before blowing away Bob Darwin, George Mitterwald and Joe Lis on swinging third strikes to end his first inning in the big leagues. The crowd gave him a standing ovation, and he earned the win in five innings of work.

Clyde might have become a legend if his story didn’t take a downturn from there. His brightest moment in the major leagues was his first. He completed his rookie season with a 4-8 record and a 5.01 earned-run average.

His professional career lasted nine years, but only five in the big leagues. He compiled an 18-33 record in 84 starts with the Rangers and Cleveland and a 4.63 ERA. When he retired from the Houston Astros’ farm system in 1981, he was less than a season of big-league service away from qualifying for a baseball pension.

Toby Harrah, a 17-year major league veteran, played shortstop for the Rangers when Clyde arrived. Harrah believes it wasn’t a very smart idea, but Clyde helped direct himself toward failure by hooking up with veterans who liked to party and weren’t interested in protecting a kid from himself.

"To be honest with you, I don’t think he handled it very well," Harrah said.

"The fact is, he shouldn’t have been there, but the Rangers at that time were trying to get people to come to the ballpark. He had a great arm. It was unfortunate that he didn’t pitch longer in the big leagues than he did."

The only difference between Sarah Palin and David Clyde is that she throws from the right. He came from the left.

You can look it up.



Yeah. Like I would tell you....