Life's a Pitch

David Clyde was supposed to save the Texas Rangers. Thirty years later, he just wants 27 days of his old life back.

It's been five years since Clyde met the Julians. Since then they've done a good deal of work on his behalf, acting as his pro-bono publicists. Thanks mostly to the Julians, Clyde has been interviewed by various national publications. He's been mentioned in Rick Reilly's Sports Illustrated column and appeared on Fox Sports' The Jim Rome Show and The Best Damn Sports Show Period. Then there's the movie, written by Rick and pushed by Mike, aptly titled Squeeze Play, a 118-page dramatization of Clyde's passage from child to star to castoff workingman. It reads like something on the order of the Disney success The Rookie, only without the happy-happy ending--or beginning or middle. And, given the history, it's a little racier, more drinking and such. "It was pretty accurate, I thought," Clyde endorses. "Except for one thing: We didn't go to any titty bars."

Either way, you'd think they wouldn't need to doctor it much, that this story sells itself. Trust and betrayal, women and drinking, money, success and loss--what more does a studio need? For the love of God, these are the people who green-lighted Death to Smoochywithout batting a plastic surgery-tucked eye. Hollywood has to be beating down the Julians' door, right?

"Uh," Mike Julian says, hesitating, "no. We haven't gotten anyone from the big production houses to pay much attention yet, but we're starting to talk to Mark Ciardi, who produced The Rookie. Everybody always says, 'Ah...sports movies.' But they keep making them. We want this one to get made." His voice picks up speed; he's getting excited. This is the way Mike usually talks, quick and harried--very L.A. "Here's Field of Dreams, right? That took eight years to make. Why? Because it was a sports movie. That's bull. But that's what we have to deal with. I mean, if you have an antagonist like Billy Martin in there, how can it go wrong? This is something...this is real emotion. But I guess people want Armageddon instead."

Former Texas Rangers pitcher David Clyde, who had a fearsome hook, shows off his grip.
Mark Graham
Former Texas Rangers pitcher David Clyde, who had a fearsome hook, shows off his grip.
Clyde's card collection shows his quick progression from fuzz-cheeked 18-year-old phenom to broken-down veteran.
Mark Graham
Clyde's card collection shows his quick progression from fuzz-cheeked 18-year-old phenom to broken-down veteran.

It's been a struggle, one that may never resolve itself. Could be the Julians never get Squeeze Play made, a possibility they've mulled. It would be nice, of course, but there are other ways of reinstalling David Clyde into the public consciousness. ESPN's acclaimed Outside the Lines is set to do a piece in June, and the Rangers plan on honoring him with "David Clyde Night" around the same time. All thanks in part to the Julians' persistence.

Then there's the matter of getting back into baseball. Clyde has expressed interest to several teams, and Mike Julian has contacted Rangers CEO Mike Cramer on Clyde's behalf. Cramer says little other than acknowledging that they soon will plan what David Clyde Night will entail. He refers questions about Clyde's pension to "the baseball people"--who then referred us to Cramer. Nice.

Clyde remains resolute. A coaching job, or any job in baseball, is what he wants now. "And wouldn't that make for a great ending for our movie?" Mike Julian asks.

Maybe you're thinking all this is too little, too late? A slap at Clyde's pride, perhaps; an OK-but-not-great consolation prize after having been shown the door 30 years ago. But that would assume that he considers his life part trial, part conviction, or that he harbors deep-rooted ill will and regret. Somehow, there's none of that in Clyde.

"What do we accomplish by 'poor me?'" asks Clyde, who is a major reason why nearly every pro sports franchise now has someone to mentor its youngsters in some capacity. "Yeah, I'm 27 days short of my pension; OK, I walked away. They didn't tell me to leave, but no one told me what might happen if I did, either. But we don't accomplish anything by feeling bad for ourselves. I have no room for it in my life...I look back on it and see it for what it was, you know. It's what it was."

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