June 16 – Amsterdam Birthday Bits

jamesMartin222The Electric City’s loss was the Rug City’s gain when 18-year-old James Martin (born June 16, 1930) and his family moved into a house on Amsterdam’s Harvard Avenue in 1948. He finished his last year of high school at Wilbur Lynch, then went to Clarkson College where he played varsity football and got a degree in engineering. Enlistment in the US Navy came next along with marriage to a young lady from Granville named Monica Minogue. He thought he might want to then become a lawyer but decided to try selling insurance for a career instead. It proved to be a very good choice. He became an agent for Northwestern Mutual and would eventually become partners in his own agencies, Martin & Bergen in Amsterdam and Martin & Holloway in Gloversville. Before he retired, he had become one of the top agents in the history of the Northwestern Mutual network. He had also become a pillar of the Amsterdam community,

Besides insurance, Jim Martin’s trademarks were his smile, his firm handshake, his family and his legion of friendships. He and Monica raised five children and Jim devoted his life to helping them succeed. He was a member of the Bishop Scully High School Board of Education and the Amsterdam High School Football Booster Club. St, Mary’s Church and St. Mary’s Hospital were both also near and dear to his heart and his volunteer work on behalf of the hospital’s foundation reached “legendary” status. If there was a group of people trying to do something good in either Amsterdam or up in Fulton County, the chances were very good that you’d find Jim Martin among them.  He died in 2013, three days after his 83rd birthday.

clarkAlfred “Allie” Clark’s (born June 16, 1923) time in Amsterdam was brief, productive and painful. He was part of the 1941 Amsterdam Rugmaker Opening Day lineup, starting at second base for Manager Paul O’Malley’s ball club which had five future big league players on its roster, the most of any Rugmaker team in history. Clark, who was still known as “Al” at the time and not yet “Allie,” started off that year on fire with his bat and after 20 games, he was averaging a robust .368 and leading the team in hits. But he also had developed a sore right arm that got so bad, the team sent him home to Perth Amboy, New Jersey to recuperate. Unfortunately for Rugmaker fans, when Clark’s arm felt better, the Yankee front office assigned him to their D-level affiliate in Easton, Maryland, where the young infielder continued the torrid hitting he had exhibited in Amsterdam, batting .325 in the 80 games he played there. The parent club’s player development brain trust then decided to let Clark skip a return to C-ball, sending him instead to their B-level team in Norfolk, Virginia where the youngster continued to rip the cover off the baseball.

Serving his country during WWII interrupted his ascent to the big leagues but by 1947 he was wearing pinstripes and playing in the Bronx. He appeared in 24 games for Manager Bucky Harris’s club that season. Most of those appearances were as a first baseman. He was one of the last Yankees to wear uniform number 3 before it was retired upon Babe Ruth’s death in 1948. The highlight of Clarke’s short stay in pinstripes had to be his participation in the 1947 World Series. He appeared in three games against the Dodgers in that Fall Classic, came to the plate three times, getting a walk a base hit, scoring a run and delivering an RBI. He was then traded to the Indians for pitcher Red Embree and appeared in his second straight Series that year, when the Indians captured the AL Pennant. He played three plus seasons in Cleveland and then joined the A’s in Philadelphia for a while. He played his last big league game in 1953.

He probably would have had a much better career if that right arm that he hurt in Amsterdam had ever fully healed. In an effort to correct the problem, he had undergone arm surgery in 1946. The operation had not worked and Clark regretted letting the doctors cut him open for the rest of his days. He insisted it was his weak throwing arm that prevented him from cracking big league starting lineups. After retiring, Clark returned to Perth Amboy, where he became an iron worker in the construction industry. He died in the Spring of 2012.

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