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JC Grad Clark receives call of a lifetime

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Johnson City graduate Ryan Clark grew up as a New York Mets fan and dreaming of one day playing in the big leagues. At the time, that dream likely meant playing in Shea Stadium wearing blue and orange. Shea Stadium is now gone, and that orange will now look a little redder after Clark was drafted in the 5th round (150th pick overall) of the MLB Draft by the Mets division rival Atlanta Braves.

Clark, a right handed pitcher, just finished his junior year at UNC Greensboro with a 7-6 record and a 4.06 ERA with 94 strikeouts in 95.1 innings pitched.

He says grew more and more anxious over the last few days after hearing rumors he could go as early as late in the second round, before falling to the fifth.

Minutes before hearing his named called on the MLB Network web broadcast on Tuesday he received a call from the Atlanta Braves front office asking if he would sign with them if they picked him. He said he would, and minutes later he was an Atlanta Brave.

"I was getting phone calls saying 'we might take you here, we might take you there,'" Clark said. "So, I'm like all nervous and everything like that. So, when you finally hear your name there's a sense of excitement, everyone's cheering. It's just an all around great experience. Something that I'll never forget. Just a good time to be surrounded by people that are close to me and just enjoy the moment. It was really exciting to hear my name called, but it was more exciting to understand that it's finally over, I don't have to wait any longer, I can go about my business. The relieving feeling of hearing your name called is like nothing else."

It didn't take long for him and his group of friends that gathered to watch to leave Clark's house and head to the Oakdale Mall to buy just about every Atlanta Braves hat in the place. When asked how many of them were actually Braves fans before Tuesday, one of Clark's friends responded "I only became a baseball fan about three hours ago."

Clark expects to sign with the Braves in the next few days and plans to attend the Braves mini-camp in Orlando which begins on the 12th. From there, he's been told he will join the Braves rookie level team, the Danville Braves, of the Appalachian League. Their season opener is June 23rd.