Marty Clary – 1990 Upper Deck

March 17, 2011

If You Only Knew, Marty. If You Only Knew…

Sorry, this be crooked as well. It was late and my scanner was tired.

The Braves renaissance (thank you spell check) started when Bobby Cox started to become a real GM and built his teams around young players – trading stop gap vets for youth and drafting intelligently.

Marty Clary could have joined Smoltz, Glavine, Pete Smith, and Steve Avery as a relatively young pitcher on the first of the glory years staffs.

Clary was probably termed a disappointment to the Braves. He was a 3rd round 1983 pick that spent four seasons in Richmond with only a 1987 September call-up to show for it, and was sent down for a fifth to begin 1989. In his only major league start, on October 3 of 1987, he gave up 9 hits and 6 runs in 4 1/3 to the pennant winning Giants. You could probably think that Clary was thinking about using his Northwestern education instead of chasing his baseball dreams, but with the Braves staff in disarray, he probably thought it was worth a shot to keep at it.

The call came for Clary in mid-1989 and after a rocky relief outing he joined the rotation with a flash – a four-hitter that he won 2-1 over the Reds. He was so impressive in that game that after the Braves took the lead 2-1 in the top of the ninth Russ Nixon let Clary finish the game instead of turning the game over to their closer, Joe Boever. (In retrospect, good call, Russ!)

Clary replaced Zane Smith in the rotation and for the rest of 1989 he was the ‘old man’ of the starting staff. Avery, Pete Smith, Smoltz and Derek Lilliquist were all 22 or 23, and Clary was 27.

But Marty had reason to smile for this card. 1990 was going to be a great year. He broke camp and was in the rotation to start the year.

Well, um…the smile didn’t last long.

Young pitching has its ups and downs. Pete Smith and Lilliquist struggled, but Cox had the presence of mind to get Charlie Liebrandt to help steady the kids, even though Liebrandt started on the DL.

Clary made seven starts as part of the initial rotation. After an 8-4 loss to the Phillies he stood at 1-3, 5.30. With Liebrandt back, Clary was out and sent to the bullpen.

In July, due to the struggles of others Clary was back in the rotation. He pitched 14 1/3 innings in relief in June, and had a 3.77 ERA. However, he allowed 5 of 7 inherited runners to score and gave up 27 hits. Yikes.

July was even more of a disaster. In six July starts, he went 0-5 with a 5.45 ERA. After one horrible August start (9 runs, 7 earned in 4 2/3 against San Diego) he was yanked from the rotation with a 1-9 record. Of course, the very next game he pitched he lost, leaving his 1990 record as an unsightly 1-10. From the he was the mop-up man and then the forgotten man in September. The Braves released him and he hung around in the minors for a few years but then he was done. He probably had some sort of injury – his minor league career has a couple of holes in it after his release.

The smiles of 1989 turned into the frowns of 1990. But Clary rebounded personally, at least, and is now a physical therapist in Powdersville, SC.


One Response to “Marty Clary – 1990 Upper Deck”

  1. Chris B Says:

    Very nice summation of Marty’s career. I watched him many times at AAA Richmond (more times than Marty would liked to have been seen there, I’m sure). He was one of those players that was better than average in AAA but just didn’t quite have the stuff for a major league career. Met him several times and he was a really nice fellow – hope life’s treating him well.

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