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.”
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 COACHESList of head coaches of various sports and different levels who competed at Arizona. *-Denotes did not finish career at Arizona. Compiled by AllSportsTucson.com.
|Candace Abrams||2000-04||Clarendon (Texas) JC||Softball||2020|
|Amy Baray-Rocha||1999||Salpointe Catholic HS||Softball||2015|
|Adia Barnes||1995-99||Arizona||Women's hoops||2016|
|Marcus Bell||1996-99||Eagar Round Valley HS||Football||2011|
|Heidi Bomberger-Bruschi||1993-97||Attleboro (MA) Feehan HS||Volleyball||2020|
|Matt Brase||2003-05||Haiti National Team||Men's hoops||2017|
|Robert Bonillas||1995-98||Desert View HS||Football||2012|
|Tod Brown||1990-94||New Mexico||Baseball||2022|
|Casey Candaele||1980-82||Toronto Blue Jays Triple-A||Baseball||2021|
|Jackie Coburn||2002-05||Scottsdale Horizon HS||Softball||2013|
|Troy Cooke||1982-84||Show Low HS||Boys hoops||2020|
|Clark Crist||1977-80||Pulaski (VA) River Turtles||Baseball||2021|
|Jay Dobyns||1982-84||Tanque Verde HS||Football||2020|
|Britt Echols*||2001||Sahuaro HS||Baseball||2020|
|Byron Evans||1983-86||South Mountain HS||Football||2020|
|Terry Francona||1977-80||Cleveland Indians||MLB||2013|
|Tanya Farhat-Villarreal||1994-97||West Bend (WI) Slinger HS||Softball||2015|
|Brenda Frese||1989-93||Maryland||Women's hoops||2002|
|Jason Hisey||1988-91||Canyon del Oro HS||Baseball||2019|
|Jack Howell||1983||Anaheim Angels Single-A||Baseball||2021|
|Krista Humphreys||1993-96||Corona (CA) Centennial HS||Softball||2015|
|Stacey Iveson||1986-89||Israel National Team||Softball||2019|
|Mark Keel||1979-82||Silverdale (WA) Central Kitsap HS||Football||2000|
|Steve Kerr||1983-88||Golden State Warriors||NBA||2014|
|Michael Klyce||2004-08||Los Angeles Locke HS||Football||2017|
|David Landrith||1980-83||Pusch Ridge HS||Baseball||2019|
|Andy Litten||1999-03||Scottsdale Horizon HS||Football||2021|
|Hunter Long||2013-15||Douglas HS||Football||2019|
|Michael Lopez||2009-12||Big Spring (TX) Howard JC||Baseball||2020|
|Paige Maggio||2013-16||Mountain View HS||Girls soccer||2018|
|Brandon Manumaleuna||1997-00||Lawndale (CA) Leuzinger HS||Football||2020|
|Jennifer Martinez||2008-09||Abraham Baldwin (GA) JC||Softball||2017|
|Scott McKee||1999-02||Sahuaro HS||Football||2009|
|Craig McMillan||1984-88||Santa Rosa (CA) JC||Men's hoops||2000|
|Richard Mercado||2002-04||Santa Ana (CA) Mater Dei HS||Baseball||2019|
|Leighton Milton||1992-93||Hollywood (CA) HS||Football||2020|
|Edwin Mulitalo||1995-98||Southern Virginia||Football||2018|
|Ronnie Palmer||2005-08||Monterrey Peninsula (CA) JC||Football||2020|
|Josh Pastner||1996-00||Georgia Tech||Men's hoops||2016|
|Jose Portilla||1996-97||Heritage Academy||Football||2017|
|Jody Pruitt||1990-93||Peoria Sunrise Mountain HS||Softball||2011|
|Rebekah Quiroz||2002||Pima CC||Softball||2019|
|Danielle Steinberg||2005-09||Colorado||Women's tennis||2018|
|Gina Snyder||2018-19||Manatee (FL) Squeeze||Softball||2020|
|Jason Stewart||1997-99||Encinitas (CA) San Dieguito HS||Boys hoops||2014|
|Damon Stoudamire||1992-95||Pacific||Men's hoops||2016|
|Rafael Valenzuela||2008-10||Tampa Bay Rays Rookie League||Baseball||2019|
|Luke Walton||1999-03||Sacramento Kings||NBA||2019|
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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