Baseball: For Barrington's Elliott, patience was an asset
Before baseball players can tee off on a good pitch, they must wait for a good pitch.
And sometimes, wait, and wait, and wait.
Some are better than others at waiting.
In baseball time, Clark Elliott has the patience of a saint.
The Barrington senior wants to crush the ball just as badly as anyone else. But he will wait, and wait, and wait if he has to.
"I get walked a lot," said Elliott, who owns Barrington's career record in walks, and also set the season record in walks this season.
"If I don't get a hit, I don't complain," he said. "I pride myself on knowing the strike zone and on knowing the pitches I can hit.
"I think on-base percentage is pretty important. You have to be on base to score."
Elliott scored plenty of runs for Barrington. In fact, he's second all-time in program history in runs scored for a career.
Elliott also scored plenty of points with his coaches and recruiters for not only his discipline at the plate, but also his versatility in the field.
An infielder for his first two seasons on varsity and a center fielder this season, Elliott impressed from all angles, leading to multiple offers from major Division I programs. Ultimately, he signed with Michigan.
Along the way, Elliott helped lead Barrington to 30 wins this season and a Mid-Suburban League championship, and he has now been named the Daily Herald's Northwest baseball player of the year.
"He's got the entire skill set. This is a kid who can run, throw and hit, and he's got a great eye," Barrington coach Pat Wire said of Elliott. "He had a great junior year (. 400 batting average, 5 home runs), so he got pitched around a lot this year. But he was disciplined and he still got on base. He's got all the walks records for us, and that's in the history of a very storied program. Pretty special kid."
It's somewhat of a surprise, though, that Elliott, a two-time Mid-Suburban League all-conference selection, turned out to be a baseball kid in the first place.
Football seemed to be his destiny.
Elliott's dad John played football at Illinois in the mid-1980s. He also ran track there as well.
Also, Elliott's big brother Grant played football at Barrington before going on to Northwestern as a student.
"No one in my entire family plays baseball," Elliott said. "Even my younger brother Jack (a sophomore at Barrington) plays something else. He plays soccer.
"I played football and basketball and other sports when I was younger. But I wasn't expected to do certain sports when I got to high school. My family was really supportive. They let me do my own thing, and I knew I wanted to really focus on baseball. There is just something about the mental aspect of baseball that I really like. That drew me to it."
Elliott sharpened his mental skills in baseball during his early years, when he often played up on travel teams full of players who were older than him.
"Usually, I was the smallest kid, and definitely not the strongest," Elliott said. "When I was at bat, I had to make the most of what I got. When I got the right pitches, I had to make the most of them. When I didn't, I had to be patient. I think that's when I learned to stay within myself and remember what I can do well and be patient for it."
Elliott was patient this season to the tune of 43 walks, leading way to a .593 on-base percentage. He also had 34 hits, including 5 home runs, and scored 50 runs. He finished with a .382 batting average while driving in 39 runs.
Defensively, Elliott also made a difference, even at a new position. This was his first experience ever in center field.
"I had been a middle infielder my whole life," Elliott said. "But the team needed speed in the outfield this year. It was an adjustment, but I wanted to help the team any way I could."
Elliott covered plenty of ground in center field with his speedy feet, and robbed many batters of sure hits and extra bases.
"Clark started at third base his sophomore year, then he was in the middle infield last year, so we moved him around a lot and he was selfless in doing that for us," Wire said. "Michigan's got a great kid coming their way."
Elliott, who graduated with a 4.1 grade-point average and will major in kinesiology at Michigan, is excited to play for one of the best programs in the Big Ten. But he has goals that go far beyond that.
"On our Spring Break trip this year, we went to Myrtle Beach and we played in the stadium where the Cubs' A-Ball team plays and I hit a home run there. That was a great moment," Elliott said. "All I kept thinking was, 'I want to be able to do this someday with a pro jersey on.' I would love to be able to go out and play and that be my job.
"Since I was a young kid, that has always been the goal. It would be amazing to get there."
With some patience, Elliott knows that anything is possible.