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Astros call on member of Buffalo Hall


Some odd news late Monday afternoon out of Houston: The Astros have fired manager Cecil Cooper with just 13 games left in the season and have replaced him on an interim basis with third-base coach Dave Clark (right), the power-hitting outfielder who played for the Bisons in 1984, 1987 and 1992 and was inducted into the Buffalo Baseball Hall of Fame last summer.

Highly respected Houston Chronicle columnist Richard Justice says Cooper lost the clubhouse a long time ago and Clark should have gotten the chance much earlier. Usually, you don't fire a manager this late in the season when you're going nowhere but the Astros are 70-79 and coming off an 0-6 road trip. Maybe this is a mini-audition for Clark.

Strangely enough, Clark will be replaced at third base by another former Bison, ex-Herd shortstop Al Pedrique. Clark is a highly respected manager for Houston's Double-A club in Corpus Christi (2005-07) and Triple-A Round Rock (2008). Cooper, the former Red Sox and Brewers first baseman, was a pretty surly type from my dealings with him when he managed Indianapolis. Clark has a reputation for being a solid communicator with players young and old.

Clark, now 47, has a unique distinction in Buffalo baseball lore: He is the only player to play for the Double-A Bisons, the Triple-A Bisons in War Memorial Stadium and the Triple-A team downtown in what's now Coca-Cola Field. 

His 1987 season in the Rockpile's farewell year ranks as one of the best in franchise history. Clark's average of .340 is a modern-era record that still stands and was the highest by a Bison since 1952. He added 30 homers, 80 RBIs and whopping numbers in slugging (.621) and OPS (1.034) that have yet to be matched. You can see Clark's full career stats here.

---Mike Harrington

(Photo: Associated Press)

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