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Clark Crist, member of Arizona’s 1980 CWS title team, managing in Appalachian League


Palo Verde High School graduate Clark Crist, who played shortstop for Arizona’s College World Series championship team in 1980, recently began his first full-time managing stint with the Pulaski (Va.) River Turtles of the Appalachian League.

The Appalachian League is now a collegiate summer baseball league after serving as part of Minor League Baseball from 1911 to 2020. The league, part of the Prospect Development Pipeline of MLB and USA Baseball, was not in operation last year because of COVID-19.

“I am very excited to be a part of the inaugural season of the new Appalachian League,” Crist was quoted as saying by MLB in a statement. “It is an honor to be allowed to work with these young, talented college players, and I am thankful to Major League Baseball and USA Baseball for giving me this opportunity.

“My goal is to provide these athletes an understanding of the game while enhancing their abilities.”

Pulaski (Va.) River Turtles graphic

Crist’s hire at Pulaski means three members of the 1980 championship team are currently managing — third baseman Casey Candaele with Triple-A Buffalo in the Toronto Blue Jays organization and outfielder Terry Francona with the Cleveland Indians are the others.

Crist, who resides in Oro Valley, most recently served from 2015-20 as a national junior college cross checker for the Arizona Diamondbacks, overseeing all junior college prospects nationwide.

His big-league tenure includes scouting roles for the Houston Astros (1985-92), Boston Red Sox (1992-94), Cleveland Indians (1994-95), New York Mets (1995-97), St. Louis Cardinals (1997-2006) and the Cincinnati Reds (2006-15).

Crist, 63, oversaw the signing of many notable names during his career as an MLB scout, including All-Stars Kenny Lofton (a basketball player at Arizona’s who was part of the Wildcats’ first Final Four team in 1987-88), Albert Pujols, Covelli “Coco” Crisp, Mike Leake, Tommy Pham, Amir Garrett and the late Chris Duncan (a Tucsonan who played at CDO).

Crist mentioned in a recent press conference that he also wants to relay to Pulaski’s players what major-league scouts look for in a prospect.

“It is working with young kids – who are up and coming, and giving them the perspective of professional baseball, you know, what it’s like to be a professional player,” Crist said. 

Crist was the starting shortstop for the 1980 Arizona team that generated 19 late-inning comebacks that season en route to Jerry Kindall’s second national championship at the school.

He was drafted by the Seattle Mariners in the 14th round of the 1980 MLB June Amateur Draft and spent four seasons in Minor League Baseball, eventually serving as a player-coach for the Mariners’ Double-A affiliate, the Chattanooga Lookouts, from 1982-85.

He and his wife of more than 40 years, Leslie, have two children and a grandchild. Crist’s son Justin, a former CDO standout, played in the minors for the Los Angeles Dodgers. Crist’s daughter Randi and her husband Jack have one son, George.

Clark Crist’s position with Pulaski means a total of 50 former Arizona athletes are currently head coaches or managers, including nine affiliated with the baseball program.

FORMER ARIZONA ATHLETES WHO ARE HEAD COACHES

List of head coaches of various sports and different levels who competed at Arizona. *-Denotes did not finish career at Arizona. Compiled by AllSportsTucson.com.
NameUATeam SportStart
Candace Abrams2000-04Clarendon (Texas) JCSoftball2020
Amy Baray-Rocha1999Salpointe Catholic HSSoftball2015
Adia Barnes1995-99ArizonaWomen's hoops2016
Marcus Bell1996-99Eagar Round Valley HSFootball2011
Heidi Bomberger-Bruschi1993-97Attleboro (MA) Feehan HSVolleyball 2020
Matt Brase2003-05Haiti National TeamMen's hoops2017
Robert Bonillas1995-98Desert View HSFootball2012
Tod Brown1990-94New MexicoBaseball2022
Casey Candaele1980-82Toronto Blue Jays Triple-ABaseball2021
Jackie Coburn2002-05Scottsdale Horizon HSSoftball2013
Troy Cooke1982-84Show Low HSBoys hoops2020
Clark Crist1977-80Pulaski (VA) River TurtlesBaseball2021
Debby Day1989-91Cal-LutheranSoftball2002
Jay Dobyns1982-84Tanque Verde HSFootball2020
Britt Echols*2001Sahuaro HSBaseball2020
Byron Evans 1983-86South Mountain HSFootball2020
Terry Francona1977-80Cleveland IndiansMLB2013
Tanya Farhat-Villarreal1994-97West Bend (WI) Slinger HSSoftball2015
Brenda Frese1989-93MarylandWomen's hoops2002
Kristie Fox2004-07UNLVSoftball2017
Margo Geer2011-14AlabamaSwimming/Diving2020
Jason Hisey1988-91Canyon del Oro HSBaseball2019
Jack Howell1983Anaheim Angels Single-ABaseball2021
Krista Humphreys1993-96Corona (CA) Centennial HSSoftball2015
Stacey Iveson1986-89Israel National TeamSoftball2019
Mark Keel1979-82Silverdale (WA) Central Kitsap HSFootball2000
Steve Kerr1983-88Golden State WarriorsNBA2014
Michael Klyce2004-08Los Angeles Locke HSFootball2017
David Landrith1980-83Pusch Ridge HSBaseball2019
Andy Litten1999-03Scottsdale Horizon HSFootball2021
Hunter Long2013-15Douglas HSFootball2019
Michael Lopez2009-12Big Spring (TX) Howard JCBaseball2020
Caitlin Lowe2004-07Arizona Softball2022
Paige Maggio2013-16Mountain View HSGirls soccer2018
Brandon Manumaleuna1997-00Lawndale (CA) Leuzinger HSFootball2020
Jennifer Martinez2008-09Abraham Baldwin (GA) JCSoftball2017
Scott McKee1999-02Sahuaro HSFootball2009
Craig McMillan1984-88Santa Rosa (CA) JCMen's hoops2000
Richard Mercado2002-04Santa Ana (CA) Mater Dei HSBaseball2019
Leighton Milton1992-93Hollywood (CA) HSFootball2020
Edwin Mulitalo1995-98Southern VirginiaFootball2018
Ronnie Palmer2005-08Monterrey Peninsula (CA) JCFootball2020
Josh Pastner1996-00Georgia TechMen's hoops2016
Jose Portilla1996-97Heritage AcademyFootball2017
Jody Pruitt1990-93Peoria Sunrise Mountain HSSoftball2011
Rebekah Quiroz2002Pima CCSoftball2019
Danielle Steinberg2005-09ColoradoWomen's tennis2018
Gina Snyder2018-19Manatee (FL) SqueezeSoftball2020
Jason Stewart1997-99Encinitas (CA) San Dieguito HSBoys hoops2014
Damon Stoudamire1992-95PacificMen's hoops2016
Rafael Valenzuela2008-10Tampa Bay Rays Rookie LeagueBaseball2019
Luke Walton1999-03Sacramento KingsNBA2019


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ALLSPORTSTUCSON.com publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He is a former Arizona Daily Star beat reporter for the Arizona basketball team, including when the Wildcats won the 1996-97 NCAA title. He has also written articles for CollegeAD.com, Bleacher Report, Lindy’s Sports, TucsonCitizen.com, The Arizona Republic, Sporting News and Baseball America, among many other publications. He has also authored the book “The Highest Form of Living”, which is available at Amazon. He became an educator five years ago and is presently a special education teacher at Gallego Fine Arts Intermediate in the Sunnyside Unified School District

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