James L. Ray
Clyde Edward King spent more than sixty years in professional baseball as a player, scout, pitching coach, manager, and general manager with more than a dozen teams. Along the way, he played with Jackie Robinson, coached Bob Gibson, managed Willie Mays, and even fired Yogi Berra.
King was born on May 23, 1924, in Goldsboro, North Carolina. He was one of seven children born into a family headed by his father, Claude, who worked as a foreman at a local lumberyard. Three of the seven children came with his mother, Maggie (McMillan) King, from a previous marriage.
When he was five years old, the country fell into the Great Depression. Although he describes his family and origins as modest rather than poor, Clyde’s own stories about his childhood tell a very different story. Perhaps the most telling is how the King brothers made their own baseball equipment. An old abandoned leather sofa provided the leather and the stuffing needed to make a glove. A tree whose trunk was a little thicker than the barrel of a bat was cut down, stripped, whittled, and finally sanded down smoothly into a baseball bat. Baseballs were constructed out of rock, twine, and heavy tape.
Clyde King had a career-low 2.77 ERA in 1947, but manager
Shotton did not use him in the World Series against the
King’s first real baseball coach was Pat Crawford, a member of the world champion 1934 St. Louis Cardinals, who coached Clyde’s school team. King later said Crawford “had a profound influence on my early life because of what he taught me, the most important of which was Crawford’s motto that ‘perfect practice makes perfect.’”1 In other words, practice every day like it’s a real game, and you’ll be ready when it’s time to compete.
King was an ace pitcher in high school and also pitched in 1939 for a semiprofessional team, Borden Mills. That squad was made up of young players whose careers were on the rise, former Minor League stars, and even a handful of ex-Major Leaguers. But the fifteen-year old King was undaunted. “They were a bunch of grown men[, but]