Ask any student-athlete who has participated in a sport at Johnson City from 1982 – 2014, and you will inevitably be able to learn something about “Doc”. Over the course of his 33 year career as the Wildcats’ athletic trainer, Anthony “Doc” Cleary impacted the lives of thousands of young athletes from Johnson City and throughout Section IV with the care he provided.
Doc’s journey to Johnson City was preceded by his successful stint as an employee of the Boston Red Sox organization. Beginning in the spring of 1973, Doc spent a great deal of time working with Boston’s minor leaguers in Elmira, Winter Haven, FL, and Bristol, CT. He spent this last five years with the Red Sox working for the AAA affiliate in Pawtucket, RI. After being hired by Johnson City Athletic Hall of Fame member Paul Munley in 1982, Doc spent his autumns and early winters working with the Wildcats, and he would pack up his truck and head to Florida to begin working with young ballplayers trying to work their way up through the Red Sox system. When his time with Boston ended, Doc caught on with the New York Mets. He became the head clubhouse manager for the Binghamton Mets from 1992-1998, and he continued with the local B Mets as an assistant clubhouse manager until 2008.
Doc’s style could best be described as “old school”. He took great pride in his work, and his attention to detail is legendary. When meeting or greeting Doc, a vice-grip hand shake and a “hello” while being looked straight in the eye is a guarantee. Please and thank you are never optional when conversing with Mr. Cleary. To say that Doc is dedicated is to gravely understate his commitment to everything he does. Evidence of this can be found in his work ethic and in his current streak (as of October 1, 2015) of walking every day since January 7, 1987…10,495 consecutive days!
Memories of Doc’s words of wisdom and his unique style are easy to remember. Former athletic director Dan Erickson recalls a quote Doc employs with his coaches and players, “Practice does not make perfect…perfect practice makes perfect.” Doc used to always say to former AD Eric Race, “Lord willing” and “Time and place…all I need is time and place, Mr. Race”. Former AD John Goodson fondly shared how just reminiscing about his time with Doc made him smile, and he told of how he had a meeting every day with Doc at 1:00, even though many days it wasn’t on his calendar, it was just at Doc’s insistence.
Helping young athletes heal; protecting students from further injury; giving honest information to players, coaches, and families; treating opposing players with the same care as his beloved Wildcats…these are a just a sampling of ways that Doc’s impact in our district will forever be remembered. From 1982 to 2014, he was a constant on the sidelines of Johnson City’s athletic contests, and his presence made everyone feel comfortable in knowing that if needed, help from Doc was sure to come quickly.
The Johnson City Athletic Hall of Fame is proud to welcome Mr. Anthony “Doc” Cleary, an athletic trainer who took great pride in his work, who modeled and taught young student athletes what it means to exhibit strong character, and whose contributions to Johnson City athletics left a lasting legacy.