OAKLAND, Calif. -- Words obscured Baysball on the eve of the World Series Friday, with a former teammate calling San Francisco first baseman Will Clark a racist.
Jeffrey Leonard, now playing for the Seattle Mariners, made the charge through San Francisco Chronicle columnist Lowell Cohn.
'It's about time Will Clark came out of the closet,' the story quoted Leonard as saying. 'Talk about my personality. Let's unveil his true personality. He's a talented hitter, but he's a prejudiced bastard.'
Clark, Most Valuable Player of the National League playoffs, leads the underdog Giants in a best-of-seven series beginning Saturday (8:35 p.m. EDT) against the Athletics at Oakland Coliseum.
The Giants, bidding for their first title since 1954, send Scott Garrelts to the mound against Oakland's Dave Stewart in a battle of right-handers. The forecast calls for partly sunny skies with temperatures in the 60s.
Leonard's comments came in response to remarks by Clark, who criticized Leonard as a 'tumor' and a 'jealous ballplayer.'
When asked about Leonard's response, Clark said: 'I didn't read it but I've heard about it from a lot of people. You guys are trying to blow this out of proportion. I had an opinion and I said it. He had an opinion and he said it. It's over with. Let's play some baseball.'
'We're real ready,' said Oakland Manager Tony La Russa. 'I'd love to start it in an hour or so.'
The Bay Area Series marks the first neighborhood matchup since the New York Yankees downed the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1956.
By winning its first title in 15 years, Oakland could not only atone for its failure last fall against the Dodgers, but energize the pride in a city that exists in the shadow of San Francisco.
'Eat drink and be merry,' a sign once read in the ruins of the San Francisco earthquake, 'for tomorrow we may have to move to Oakland.'
Stewart, 21-9 with a 3.32 ERA during the season, added two victories in the playoffs. He becomes the first pitcher to start successive World Series openers since Don Gullett in 1975-77. Stewart was released by the Phils in 1986.
'I've always worked by the logic that if you work hard, do what you're supposed to, and believe in yourself, things will turn around,' he said. 'The adversity has made me better able to handle big game situations.'
Stewart faces a lineup with Brett Butler's speed at the top and the power of Clark, Kevin Mitchell and Matt Williams in the middle. Ernest Riles will serve as the Giants' designated hitter. Giants Manager Roger Craig named Candy Maldonado to start in right field.
'I had tears in my eyes,' said Maldonado, a bench player during the playoffs. 'I got on my knees and said, 'Thank you, Lord.' This is the biggest gift you can be given in baseball.'
Garrelts went 14-5 with a league-leading 2.28 ERA despite being converted from a short reliever in spring training. He must keep Rickey Henderson off base, then contain the power of Jose Canseco, Dave Parker and Mark McGwire.
Not since 1913 have the franchises met in the World Series. The A's, then based in Phildelphia and managed by Connie Mack, downed John McGraw's New York Giants in five games.
Leonard's comments about Clark represent the second controversy involving a Giants star within the last three days. On Wednesday, left fielder Mitchell missed a team workout. He called it a misunderstanding and said he would pay a fine.
Mitchell sidestepped a question onthe feud between Leonard and Clark.
'I don't have no comment,' said Mitchell, who hit 47 homers this season. 'I don't know what's going on. I don't read the paper. I just got over here in 1987 so I don't know if there was anything going on that year.'
Clark attributed some of the controversy to the layoff between the playoffs and World Series. Oakland won the American League pennant Sunday and San Francisco clinched the National League pennant Monday.
'I think that if we hadn't had this layoff you guys wouldn't be gold-digging and that's what it is, gold-digging,' Clark said.'
Leonard said a fight once devloped between him and Clark because the first baseman once dismissed Leonard's nephew by telling him to 'Get his black ass out of there.'
Leonard also said Clark once called former Giant third baseman Chris Brown a 'nigger' and later apologized to the whole team.
Leonard was traded by San Francisco to Milwaukee in 1988 and signed a 2-year contract with Seattle as a free agent last winter.