I’ve decided to write a series about memorable former teammates of mine throughout the years…..PL
There are competitors and then there are COMPETITORS. The all caps version is accurate when describing Tommy Clifford but somehow, if you knew him on the field, even that doesn’t really do it justice. Whatever game you were playing… if you were facing him he wanted to beat you. A tenacious football player…the perfect mix of psychology and mean streak. If you lined up against him you better bring your lunch because you were in for a long day.
While he found success in football it was baseball where he excelled. As dominate a right-hander as I have ever caught…his above average fastball was just really a set up pitch to his great assortment of off speed..drop off the table breaking stuff. From a very young age he just knew instinctually how to pitch. When I met him in the spring of 1981 at the first practice of Coach Sam Mannello’s Philles team in Euclid Boys League I knew immediately that he was going to push me to be the best player I could be because he was going to try to be the best player on our team. For the next two years on both the Phillies and on the Euclid Travel All-Star team I caught just about every start he had and while there was a lot, and I mean a lot of success during that time, it didn’t always come easy. We had our share of mound visit “discussions” lol. We fought each other and our opponents for every single inch of the dirt …not adversarial more like two brothers who both wanted the same thing… to win! We brought out the best in each other and it showed on the field. We played only one more time together, that was 1984 on the Pony League All Star team (whoa ..the stories I could tell about the experience..lmfao) …as he move to Willoughby and became a rival at Willoughby South. Euclid’s loss was the Rebels’ gain. He played both football and baseball there and played college ball at both Missouri before becoming a successful business man. He also has given back to the game as a successful coach and sponsor. Success is synonymous with him because its synonymous with effort. 100% effort!
If you ever played against him you got his best every time. If you didn’t bring your best every time…you got a loss. There are competitors and then there was TOMMY CLIFFORD!