Winston-Salem, North Carolina native Pat Clougherty was a standout at North Carolina State University. Clougherty was a first team All-America pick by the College Baseball Writers Association after his junior season in 1993 when he captured the N.C. State Triple Crown, slugging over 20 HRs, driving in 80 plus runs and hitting at a near .400 clip.
He was selected to represent The United States as a member of the Collegiate National Team in 1993, sharing the field– and a Topps Team USA card–with the likes of Todd Helton, Paul Wilson and Dustin Hermanson to name a few.
Clougherty now works in the healthcare industry as a Regional Account Manager for PTC Therapeutics, Inc., specializing in the Biotech and Rare Disease Biopharmaceutical industries.
We caught up to him to discuss his time on Team USA, sharing the hobby with his son and pulling his own card from a value box at Walgreens.
Tony Reid–Your recent social media post in which you told the story of visiting a Walgreens and, in need of something to rip, you purchased a value box, only to pull your own 1993 Topps Traded Team USA card. Tell us that story.
Pat Clougherty-The details you just described are exactly as it happened. I was in a Walgreens doing a little bit of shopping. I always check the little toy isle. They had the packs from Fairfield. I was just looking to tear something open and look through it, like many of the guys in the industry are right now. Sure enough, I got home and started filtering through it. There was a card of mine, my only card I ever had, the 1993 Topps Traded from Team USA. It was shocking to say the least. I put a small post out on Facebook in one of the baseball card groups I am in. I was taken aback by the amount of interest and I guess, support. One gentleman said in jest if I wanted to sign it and send it to him that it would be great. I told him to PM me. He did and I signed it and put it in the envelope and sent it on its way to him. He said he is going to give it to his 13-year-old son. I was happy to do it for him. It was just a neat experience all the way around.
PC-It was really special. That was 1993. We were sponsored by Topps. To be honest, we were still playing and it didn’t really sink it. Then I got away from the hobby, which many of us did. When I graduated in 1994 my mother stopped buying me the three sets. I used to get a Topps, Donruss and Fleer and then an Upper Deck when they came out. I would get them as Christmas presents and never really opened them. That stopped in 1994. I figured I outgrew the hobby. Now some 26 years later, my son, during the pandemic, asked about my baseball cards. You have heard this story a million times. We went up into the attic and we started looking through them. That really renewed some interest. When they were younger I showed them a few of the baseball cards and they thought that was pretty nifty. It’s probably a bigger deal when your kids think you were a pretty cool guy back in the day. It was good to reminisce.
TR–You mentioned your kids getting involved in the hobby. That’s one of the coolest aspects of the hobby right now, that the next generation is involved and cards are cool again. How nice was it that your son showed interest in baseball cards?
PC-Several years ago he was thinking about getting into it and we bought a guy’s collection on Craigslist. The cards were right around the years from 1998 to 2002 or so. When we looked through the cards form that collection recently, there were cards of a lot of the guys I played with or against. We found Billy Wagner and Todd Helton. It was cool. We tried to pull out all of the cards of guys I played with or against in college and the summer leagues. My son always likes to hear the stories about the guys that threw the hardest or the guys that were the best hitters. It’s a good way to kill a couple of hours. It has been great getting back into it.
TR–What are your fondest memories from representing your country for Team USA?
PC-Our facility was in Millington, Tennessee. I think from day one, once you make the team, once the final roster is made and the uniforms are put up in the lockers, the feeling in indescribable. We had tryouts and there were a lot of really good players did not make the team. That being said, there was a lot of really great talent on the team. It was humbling. Everyone was in their prime. We were in college. Paul Wilson was a number one pick. He was on the team. Dustin Hermanson was number four overall. The list goes on and on. It was a really incredible moment knowing I was a part of that.
That wore off when you started playing and you had to start dialing in and contributing to the team. We were fortunate enough to go to Cuba for a weekend. We played in front to 20,000 fans there. It was incredible to see Cuba and the country and some of the best players in the world. The whole summer you were held to a little bit of a higher standard. It was my brief taste of fame that summer. It was really neat.
TR–What was it like that summer traveling and being in the position to be asked to sign autographs for fans?
PC– At N.C. State we got very few autograph requests. After the games kids would come down and we would sign posters here and there. On Team USA, the numbers were much larger. We would always stay out for 30-45 minutes after the games and sign autographs. That was pretty neat. On the road, we did a tour of upstate New York when we had the World University Games in Buffalo.
I always enjoyed signing autographs. Growing up, I used to look at players like they were on a pedestal. It was hard for me to believe that the roles were reversed. Even to this day, I get letters in the mail with an SASE and it’s my 1993 card and a nice note. Some just say that they would love to have my autograph. Some notes talk about their children and really cool stuff like that. My kids get a big kick out of the letters when they arrive because someone still wants their dad’s autograph. Of course, I sign it and send them on their way. I always wonder if they are sending me an autograph request, it must be a pretty big effort to request and collect autographs like that.
TR-So, after two decades away from the hobby what do you make of this whole new world?
PC-I am 100% addicted again, I rarely drive by a Walgreens or Target without hopping in and, of course, 9 out of 10 times the shelves are empty. I don’t know if I enjoy the treasure hunt as much or if I would even clear out a shelf at Target. The scarcity of the retail products has got me addicted. A few months ago I went into a Big Lots and got one of their boxes and it had a 2019 Topps Series 1 and a Topps Heritage pack. Now 99 out of 100 times you’ll get nothing in there but I pulled a Nolan Ryan Real Ones autograph. It was the red ink short print numbered out of 70. I sent it in and got it graded. It came back a 9. I was almost going to give up on buying and then I have that incredible pull. Then in a beat up Walgreens box you pull one of yourself.
I really enjoy it and I’m really trying to learn more because I hear so many cool collecting ideas. The more I learn about it the more I want to try to find my focus. If I ever did a player collection it would be my favorite player of all time, Johnny Bench. Right now it’s a scatter shot and I just buy what I can find on the shelves and enjoy ripping and collecting. It’s been fun.