Elwood Robert Clear
- Bats Right, Throws Right
- Height 5' 10", Weight 170 lb.
"Truly the best teacher I ever knew. He was a huge influence on me. I'm not sure I'm here managing without him. He had a big impact on a ton of people." - Joe Maddon
Despite a long playing career, Bob Clear never reached the majors as a player. However, after his playing days, he was a longtime minor league manager and big league coach.
Clear began his playing career with the 1945 Batavia Clippers, hitting .222 at age 17. He moved to the Bakersfield Indians in 1946, playing third base (badly, fielding .838) and batting .266/~.363/.326. He was then drafted by the Decatur Commodores in the class-B phase of the 1946 Rule V Draft, joining the St. Louis Cardinals' chain for the next 10 years/ In 1947 he hit .200 for the Lynchburg Cardinals and .208 for Decatur. With his career going nowhere, the youngster was moved to the mound and went 17-12 with a 3.45 ERA for the 1948 Willows Cardinals; he was second to Larry Shepard in wins in the Far West League and approximately fifth in ERA. He also was 0-1 with the Fresno Cardinals.
Clear spent most of 1949 with the Pocatello Cardinals (11-6, 5.84) and also was back in Lynchburg for one loss. By his 21st birthday, he had been with seven teams. 1950 brought Bob to the Western League and he went 16-7 with a 3.38 ERA. He was tied for fourth in the league in wins, was 4th with 119 walks and the Omaha Cardinals pitcher led the league with four shutouts.
With the three top St. Louis Cardinals Minor League Affiliates, Clear struggled in 1951, going 1-2, 8.13 for the Houston Buffaloes, 0-4, 9.82 for the Columbus Red Birds and 0-1 for the Rochester Red Wings. After 11 teams by age 24, his career settled down. He went 9-12, 3.44 for Houston in 1952 and 4-6, 3.35 for the 1953 Buffaloes.
Back in Omaha in 1954, Clear went 20-11 with a 2.93 ERA, led the Western League in wins, was 5th in ERA, tied for second with 22 complete games, tied for third with five shutouts, first with 267 innings sand first with 114 walks. For Omaha the next year, he fell to 1-10, 4.42 now that the team was in AAA. He was now 1-15 in AAA, 14-20 in AA and 64-38 in the lower minors. In 1956, he went 5-4 with a 6.00 ERA for the Sioux City Soos and took over as player-manager on May 15th.
Clear finally left the Cardinals chain and was player-manager of the 1957 Douglas Copper Kings in the Pittsburgh Pirates system. Bob hit .313/.365/.458 and went 20-11 with a 3.63 ERA. He was second in the Arizona-Mexico League in ERA behind Don Bruns, tied Candido Andrade for the win lead and led with 28 complete games (in 31 starts). Still just 29 years old, he had now played for 13 clubs.
By going 18-8 for Douglas in 1958, Clear led the league in winning percentage, and helped make history on August 19th when he was hitting 5th for Douglas in a game in which all nine starters homered against the Chihuahua Dorados in a 22-6 rout.
He went 13-8, 2.81 for the Idaho Falls Russets the next year. He then had arguably his best year yet, going 21-6, 2.50 for the Grand Forks Chiefs, leading the Northern League in wins and finishing in the top 3 in ERA (possibly leading). In 1961, he fell to 4-5, 5.05 for Grand Forks. Retiring more or less from pitching, he appeared briefly for the 1965 Kinston Eagles and 1967 Clinton Pilots (1-0, 1.64), wrapping up his career with a 144-117 record for 17 teams.
"He was a true legend to those who love this game. Bob was a man of honesty and integrity. He was a very special man." - Bobby Knoop