Will Clark gives gracious, emotional speech after Giants number retirement

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Clark's gracious, emotional speech highlights number retirement originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea

SAN FRANCISCO -- Will Clark had to wait a long time for word that the Giants would retire his number, and the pandemic forced him to wait a couple more years for the actual ceremony. His speech was worth the wait.

Clark thanked dozens of family members, friends, former teammates and coaches during his speech on Saturday evening at Oracle Park, telling quick and often humorous stories about many of them. Clark even spent a couple of minutes thanking Candlestick Park, recalling that he absolutely loved "standing at home plate and watching 40 hot dog wrappers blow around."

The speech was gracious, genuine and emotional at times, and it all led to a powerful finish.

"I am Will 'The Thrill' Clark," he said to the roars of a big crowd. "I am part of San Francisco. And I am forever a Giant."

The Clark ceremony was supposed to happen in 2020, but the Giants had to wait because of the pandemic and then decided to push it back another year so they could have a full house as No. 22 went up on the wall of retired numbers. That decision also allowed them to have some of the franchise's most popular players in attendance.

Kevin Mitchell and Barry Bonds were among those who gave speeches for Clark, and Buster Posey and Bruce Bochy flew in for the ceremony. Clark thanked them for putting a ring on his finger after he became a part of the front office and said he will be there for them in a few years.

"I just have one favor to ask of you guys," Clark said to Posey and Bochy. "When you guys get inducted into Cooperstown, I would like to be there to honor you guys."

Messages were sent in by Giants legends, including Willie Mays, and several taped videos that the Giants played on their scoreboard. Former Giants manager Roger Craig, who is now 92 years old, had one of the better lines, noting that Clark was a "great ballplayer, but you would have been a lot better if you would have listened to me."

RELATED: Kapler shares 'exciting' Will Clark story from playing days

The longest and most emotional speech came from Mike Krukow, who was one of the veterans on the roster when Clark broke in as a brash but talented rookie. Krukow recalled how Clark lived at his house his first two seasons in San Francisco and was like one of his kids, eating sugary cereal and watching cartoons.

When it was time to go to the park, though, Krukow said Clark set a tone. All that mattered to him was winning.

"He has earned his place in Giants history and he truly deserves to be remembered with the storied immortals of this franchise forever," Krukow said. "Will, congratulations, and from all of us here today, thank you. It was a privilege to watch you play."

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