It's the biggest week of the year for college baseball fans. The 2017 MLB Draft is Monday night (6:00 CT on MLB Network) and the College World Series starts on Friday. If you'd like to read up on the draft, check out a few quick notes from our conversation with Jeff Ellis of Scout.
The first edition of The College Years featured Barry Bonds at Arizona State. Today, we are looking at two sluggers from Mississippi State, Rafael Palmeiro and Will Clark. Mississippi State is one of a dozen teams still playing for a spot in the CWS. They lost their first game to TCU on Saturday, so they have to win the next two to punch a ticket to Omaha.
In the mid-80s, the Bulldogs featured two of the best college baseball players of all-time. Rafael Palmeiro and Will Clark—"Thunder and Lighting" to the locals—dominated the SEC. Both still hold records at Mississippi State: Palmeiro with career homers (67) and Clark with average (.391) and slugging percentage (.811). Both played from 1983-1985 before getting drafted in the first round of the 1985 draft. Those three years were the same three that Bonds played at ASU; Palmeiro and Clark's stats are somehow even better than Bonds’.
Palmeiro and Clark both chose to attend Mississippi State, but took different paths to get there. Palmeiro was born in Cuba, while Clark is from New Orleans. They combined to win an incredible 137 games over three years.
A couple years ago, ESPN did a 30-for-30 on Palmeiro, Clark, and the 1985 team. The two players did not get along well while in college and that escalated once they made it to the majors. Clark was taken 2nd overall by the Giants in the 1985 draft, while Palmeiro went 22nd to the Cubs (Bonds went 6th). Both had great pro careers; Palmeiro hit 569 HR and collected 3,020 hits and Clark had 284 HR and a career .384 OBP. Clark was selected to six All-Star games, while Palmeiro played in four.