Categorized | Local Perspectives

COMMUNITY VOICE: South Amboy’s Passing Parade

Alfie “Allie” Clark

Give my regards to Broadway, remember me in South Amboy —

It is hard for me to write on this subject because I think too much and get too sentimental. If you are a new timer in South Amboy, let me give you a glimpse of how an old timer see’s South Amboy through my eyes. My grandfather’s name was Frank Monahan. He was a cop in South Amboy. The homestead was on the corner of Bordentown and Stevens Avenue so GrandPop could walk to work each day because the Police Headquarters was next to Hoffman High School. We were all born up on the hill in South Amboy Hospital. The Raritan River Railroad ran right next to our house. When I got a little older I could watch the trains turn around at the roundhouse across the street. Briggs Chevrolet was on Main Street and our one bank was on Broadway. Pizza was called tomato pie and you could get a large one on a cold night at the Hillcrest on Stevens Avenue for twenty cents.

On a hot summer day you could go to the Mini Ditch which was a tiny beach on the Raritan River and on a hot night you could get a chocolate frosted at Maduras Drug Store for a nickel. Yum! Yum! Time moves along and we came to the end of the 1930’s.

My cousin Tommy was a Senior at St. Mary’s High School. He played basketball. His friend was a Senior at St. Mary’s and he played baseball. His name was Alfie Clark. It didn’t mean anything to me because these kids were eight years older than me and I was still playing with my toys.

At the age of eleven, I became obsessed with the game of baseball. The first time I ever saw Alfie Clark play baseball was with the Newark Bears. He hit a home run that night over the Ruppert Beer sign in left-center field. That ball went out into the night somewhere. No one and I mean no one ever hit a ball over that sign and out of the park.

Alfie lost time like all the other ballplayers during World War II and he was up with the N.Y. Yankees in 1947. It was the Fall of that year that I got to meet Alfie. Our C.Y.O. Baseball Team was honored at a banquet in Metuchen. The Master of Ceremonies was Jim Holton and the guest speaker was Allie Clark (No longer Alfie). The Voice of the Yankees (Mel Allen) coined him with Allie.

At the end of Alfie’s speech, Jim Holton said, “There is a player on our C.Y.O. team that will be playing with the Yankees someday and his name is Tom Clark.” I was asked to stand up and I think I stopped breathing. Alfie spoke to me for about five minutes and I had no idea what he said. I was speechless. I was without speech. I wasn’t that good of a baseball player but at that point in my life my confidence level was so high that I believed that I could play baseball would anyone. Why? Because Alfie Clark told me so.

I played a couple of years at St. Peter’s High School in New Brunswick. I can remember telling Alfie about a home run I hit when we played in back of St. Mary’s High School in South Amboy. Alfie said, “That is a short porch in right field and you might break a window in one of those houses.” I asked him about his homers to the right. He said, “I didn’t have to worry because my balls went over those houses.”

I didn’t get to the talk to Alfie for many years. He got traded to Cleveland and then to the Philadelphia Athletics. The Korean War took me away for a couple of years, then the Crimson Tide Alabama and four years in Tampa, Florida. Alfie gave me some baseball cards when I was a little kid. Those cards were off limits and were kept in a strong box. I only played with my new cards. You could get five in a pack of bubble gum for one cent. I told Alfie that these cards were stolen. He said, “Those cards were worth big bucks. I told him that I still had his card which I still carry in my wallet. “

He said, “You could probably get a nickel or a dime for my card.”

Alfred Allie Clark died on April 2, 2012. Alfie and I talked a lot of baseball since we both loved the game. We talked about the great left handed pitcher Smokin Joe Page and his best and last living friend, Yogi Berra. He was never too busy to talk to me and his wife Fran was the same way.

Alfie would always want to hear about me and how I was doing or what I did. Here was a Major League Baseball Player interested in a guy across the River. Think about this. How many people and I don’t care who they are that came on are interested in you? This was the lesson that Alfie taught me. The last time I spoke to Alfie, I wasn’t feeling to good. He said, “When I go to St. Mary’s Church on Sunday I’ll say a prayer for you.”

Like I said before, this was a tough subject to write on. My All Star Team has to be Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig and in the cleanup spot Alfie Allie Clark. May God Bless You Alfie.

Thomas Francis Clark
Metuchen

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