Max Clark getting drafted No. 3 a celebration not just for Clark, but Franklin, too.

FRANKLIN -- Drive past the sprawling fields along the rural Franklin roads and you'll arrive at a street lined with cars as far as the eye can see, and everyone in attendance is there to celebrate Franklin outfielder Max Clark and his pending selection in the 2023 MLB draft.

There's a white tent setup in the Clarks' backyard with all 30 MLB team logos decorating the inside. There's a small shrine of pictures along the deck dedicated to Clark's accomplishments and a refreshments table stocked with brightly colored drinks matching the colors of select MLB teams.

It's a party in Franklin with a couple hundred of Clark's closest friends, but the celebration cannot begin until the left-handed outfielder finds out where he'll begin his professional career.

Max Clark picked No. 3: Here's what they're saying about him.

Clark is cool and collected as the draft grows closer and closer. He's taking pictures and chatting before moving inside ahead of the draft.

The MLB Network draft broadcast is on three separate monitors outside. Clark, his parents, girlfriend and several more people are stuffed into the living room. The monitor visible from the living room is several seconds ahead of the one in the living room. To avoid spoiling the surprise of the draft pick announcement, the outside monitor is shut off and more people move into the tent.

"They sure like to hear themselves talk," mutters Clark's grandfather once the Pittsburgh Pirates are on the clock and the preamble for the first overall pick drones on.

Clark was viewed as a candidate to go No. 1 overall, but the Pirates select LSU pitcher Paul Skenes. Once he's passed for the top selection, Clark had a pretty good idea of where he was going to end up. The Washington Nationals select LSU outfielder Dylan Crews with the No. 2 pick, then Clark gets a phone call from his agent, Sam Samardzija of Wasserman Baseball.

"So, Sam calls me, and he goes 'Guess what?' And I was like, 'No way, no way,''" Clark said.

The Detroit Tigers are making Clark the selection at No. 3 overall. The phone call sends the supporters in the living room into a frenzy. Several minutes pass before the pick is announced on the broadcast and applause breaks out again.

Franklin Community High School's baseball star Max Clark is congratulated after being drafted by the Detroit Tigers during the MLB Draft on Sunday, July, 9, 2023, at his family home in Franklin Ind.
Franklin Community High School's baseball star Max Clark is congratulated after being drafted by the Detroit Tigers during the MLB Draft on Sunday, July, 9, 2023, at his family home in Franklin Ind.

"I just hoped that it was a good call," Clark's mother Angela Ankney said. "Not any (team) in my mind, like no one specific. I told myself tonight, I just want my son to feel good at the end of the night. That's it."

For Ankney, a retired schoolteacher, the plan is to stay in Franklin and travel to support Max at each stop along the way. With sister Madeleine in New York, and brother Mason in Florida, the youngest Clark will have plenty of family support as he navigates his baseball career.

Clark's first stop will likely be to the Tigers Rookie League team in the Florida Complex League. If he performs well there, he could quickly receive a bump to Single-A with the Lakeland Flying Tigers. Detroit's High A team is the West Michigan Whitecaps, followed by the Erie SeaWolves (Double-A) and the Toledo Mud Hens (Triple-A).

"A culmination of years of success and failure"

To say Clark's selection in the MLB draft was preordained may seem like hyperbole, but the kid called his shot early in life. At age six, Clark made a poster saying he wanted to be a baseball player when he got older. And of course, his favorite book was "H for Home Run".

Clark navigated the weight of being one of the top prep players in the nation and the increased scrutiny of being a highly followed social media presence with hundreds of thousands of followers. Clark had scouts show up in waves to a preseason scrimmage in March, chill in the air and all, and still managed to put on a hitting display during batting practice. He's handled every step of the process with grace, and while getting drafted is just the beginning of his baseball journey, Sunday represented a day to reflect on how far he's come.

Franklin Community High School's baseball star Max Clark is drafted by the Detroit Tigers during the MLB Draft on Sunday, July, 9, 2023, at his family home in Franklin Ind.
Franklin Community High School's baseball star Max Clark is drafted by the Detroit Tigers during the MLB Draft on Sunday, July, 9, 2023, at his family home in Franklin Ind.

"It's just a culmination of years of success, and failure and success again, and failure again," older brother Mason said. "That kind of is Max in a nutshell. He never gives up. He works for what he wants. And he's been that way since he was 2 years old, trying to swing my bat at the travel baseball games. So, he's earned every single thing that he's ever gotten in his life. And this is kind of the culmination of doing that for years and years."

After getting drafted Clark made the rounds again, shaking more hands and thanking the community that came out to support him. Clark's always made sure to represent Indiana and his hometown with pride. He's a team player as well, giving shoutouts to travel ball teammate Andrew Wiggins of Heritage Christian and Team USA teammate Cameron Tilly of Castle during an MLB Network interview as a way to highlight other talented Hoosiers.

Clark always seems to have time for others, but after the party at his house concluded, it was Franklin's turn to let him know how much he means to them.

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"You can do this and we will support you here"

Chants of "MAX CLARK, MAX CLARK," broke out as onlookers at Young's Creek Park eagerly await his arrival. About 600 people gathered at the amphitheater for a post-draft party and Clark made an entrance worthy of his superstar status.

Arriving to the park accompanied by a police and motorcycle escort, a stretch limousine packed with Clark and his closest friends was greeted by a swarm of cameras. Clark emerged with Jay Z's "New York State of Mind" blasting out the limousine speakers. He took time to sign autographs and do interviews with local TV stations before reaching the stage at Young's Creek Park.

"You guys showed up countlessly at football games, basketball games, baseball games. You guys have always been popping out, showing out and making it a ton of fun," Clark said as he addressed the crowd. Clark signed off with a "Go Detroit, baby," before signing more autographs.

Franklin hasn't seen a star like Clark since perhaps George Crowe, and it'll likely be a long time before anyone ever comes close again.

William Tracy, 11, braved a crowd of autograph seekers and got Clark to sign one of his Crocs. Smile beaming across his face, Tracy and his mother Tina took a moment to rejoice in meeting a rising superstar.

"It's crazy, I never thought this would happen," William said. "Franklin is a small town and to have someone go No. 3 (in the draft) and then sign some of my stuff is just awesome."

"It's a good story for all of our kids in our community," added Tina. "Franklin is a great place to live. It's a good small town and things like this don't happen. So, it shows all the kids here that you can do this, and we will support you here in this town."

For aspiring baseball player Kyler Small, 10, of Whiteland, Clark is an inspiration.

"It's very inspirational," Kyler's father Sean said. "He's a 10-year-old pitcher, and he has big dreams to make it and it's really cool to see a local guy get to do it right in front of us."

Many of Clark's young fans only see what he puts out on social media. They don't see the hours spent in the batting cage, or deal with the soreness and pain of a grueling weightlifting session. But they'll always know that someone from Franklin, someone who went to the same schools as them and played on the same fields was able to make his dreams come true through hard work and dedication.

Through Clark, youth in the small town can dream big, and that's why so many people showed up to send him off in style.

This article originally appeared on Indianapolis Star: MLB draft 2023: Detroit Tigers pick Max Clark a Franklin, Indiana hero