- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 3, 2004

There’s nothing out of the ordinary about Woodridge — except that the middle-class neighborhood at the intersection of South Dakota and Rhode Island avenues in Northeast was the only one outside affluent Ward 3 that kept its youth baseball program going throughout the sport’s ugly decline in the District.

“I don’t think there’s any secret,” said Mason Clark, athletic director of the Woodridge Warriors for 40 years. “Other people just didn’t have enough desire to keep their programs active. Maybe it helped that I was a teacher [until retiring in 1999]. I did a lot of tutoring, and we’ve always had a tutoring program.

“I think the kids just see how devoted I am, and they come to me. We give each kid lots of attention. We take them on trips every year. I see this as my calling.”

Clark not only raised four children, he welcomed 20 foster kids into his home while teaching elementary school, running Woodridge’s athletic program and often coaching its baseball, football and basketball teams. Clark also served as a father figure to countless youths, including Yolanda Glover-Campbell, now a Woodridge board member and coach.

“In Woodridge, we keep baseball going year-round,” said Glover-Campbell, whose Warriors affiliated with Cal Ripken Baseball in the late 1990s to obtain qualified opponents. “… We’ll play in school hallways in the wintertime, anywhere we can get space. We’ll use tennis balls, NERF balls. There’s a lot of technique and skill that can still be taught that way.”

During his more than four decades in Woodridge, Clark helped guide Tony Paige to the NFL and Larry Spriggs, Tim Bassett and John Battle to the NBA, but the 68-year-old Oklahoma native is steadfast in his belief baseball is the superior sport.

“Baseball is the smart man’s game,” Clark maintained. “… It takes more focus and a much greater degree of dedication than the other sports because it’s harder to learn. And you’ve got to have the nerve to stand in there when a ball that can kill you comes speeding just a few inches from your head.”

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