It had taken him several years after graduating from Northwestern University to make it from the minor leagues Durham Bulls to the Atlanta Braves. When he reached the Triple-A Richmond Braves, he was making about $1,200 a month for six months, still not enough to support himself full time.
“You end up kind of having to do the crazy things: you either drive a truck, or load or unload trucks, or landscaping — things that you can fit in seasonally,” he said.
Trying to make it to the major leagues was difficult in the 80s, but it’s even harder today.
“It’s exceptionally hard,” he said. “You just get a few that ever make that transition ... from the different professional ranks all the way into the Major League.”
Today, reaching Major League Baseball is more difficult, and athleticism is crucial, Clary says. That’s part of the reason he decided to become a physical therapist and buy Velocity Sports in Powdersville.
“I want to make sure other people who have surgeries or injuries have the proper education and tools in order to build themselves up strong enough so that they don’t re-injure themselves,” he said.
Clary says he may never have been injured if he had the type of training that’s offered at Velocity.
“What took me out of the game was injury, and what the challenge is for this next generation … is the same thing — injury. But also (there’s an) incredible number of competitors vying for that spot. Now you have to have a body that is just tremendous in athleticism, and in strength, and in explosiveness and in ability.”
After his baseball career, he attended the Medical University of South Carolina to become a physical therapist, and then opened a physical therapy office in Powdersville and became a co-owner of Velocity Sports in Powdersville. Today, he’s the sole owner of Velocity Sports in Powdersville and works in the Proaxis Therapy office from the Velocity’s building.
“In my time, whoever played the most had a little bit of talent already and rose to the top,” he said. “Now, you’ve got to have all those things plus an extremely physical athletic body that they feel is worth giving a lot of money to and that will not break down.”
Clary, a Detroit native, moved throughout the Southeast during his baseball career. So why did he choose to set roots in Powdersville?
“Primarily because I met a beautiful lady,” he says. Clary met his wife-to-be Ginger while he was playing in Greenville, on a blind date after one of the games.
The other players’ wives “loved to try to set up us poor single guys,” Clary said.
The first date wasn’t great, but Clary was determined to get to know her better.
“We went out again and again, and broke down the ice and got to know each other,” he said. “As pretty as she was, she had me hooked.”
Leaving baseball was “bittersweet,” but Clary says he’s now glad to be able to live in Powdersville and work a job that’s more conducive to having a family.
“God provided for us a way to make a nice living in a job that is very rewarding,” he says.
Ginger Clary teaches fourth grade science at Powdersville Elementary, and their family is involved in the community, Clary said.
“(Powdersville is) a great place to live, to go to good schools, to raise a family in an environment that would reinforce the values that we had at home,” he said. “So (there’s) no better place to us than the Powdersville community.”
Full name: Marty Clary
Occupation: Physical therapist, Velocity Sports owners.
Years on the job: Three and half with Velocity, been with physical therapy since 2000.
Favorite food: Crab legs
Favorite pastime: Hunting and fishing.
Family: Wife, Ginger; children: Ashley, 19, Jacob, 15. The Clary family also has a deceased son, Weston, who died when he was 1. Weston would be 17 today.
Pets: Yellow lab named Champ.
Awards or special achievements: Played Division I basketball at Northwestern University.
-Played for Atlanta Braves from 1987-’90.
-Attended Northwestern University on a basketball scholarship.
Born in: Detroit, Michigan
Church: Grace Community Church (Powdersville campus)
Favorite sports team: University of Michigan.