David Clyde, a baseball phenom of whom too much was asked too soon, has learned the meaning of "too much" and maybe it's not too late.

Clyde came straight out of high school to the Texas Ranger mound in the summer of '73. He wasn't really ready. He staggered to 4-8 and 3-9 records, to the minors, eventually to a precarious grip with desperate Cleveland.

This spring, a relapse: Hospitalized with stomach trouble in April, on the Indians' disabled list until June. Ah, a blessing in disguise, maybe; he went that whole stretch without a beer.

"I can drink beer like water," says Clyde. '"It was nothing for me to get together with the boys and drink a case of beer. You can't continue to live life at such a fast pace and not let it catch up with you . . . I regained control of myself. I've cut down on my partying . . .

"I'm not going to become a hermit. I party every five days now -- after I pitch. But where I could drink a case before, three beers give me a buzz now."

Manager Jeff Torborg, who says, "Give Dave Duncan (bullpen coach) a lot of credit" for straightening out the 24-year-old lefty, inserted Clyde in the Indian Rotation 10 days ago. He has pitched effectively all three starts, stands 2-0, delivered a complete-game five-hitter Monday night, 8-2, over Kansas City.

Buzz . . .

Criminal complaints of cruelty to animals against three Nebraska Cornhusker football players for tossing four live turkeys into a campus bonfire April 20 have been dropped, the athletes agreeing to counseling and 30 hours of community service in Lincoln hospitals . . . service in Lincoln hospitals . . . Then there was the case in the Cleveland suburb of Shaker Heights, Ohio, in which Marion Motley, 59, an Ohio Lottery Commission employe, came before acting Municipal Judge Frank Spiegel on a charge of following too closely when his car hit an oil slick and skidded into the rear of another vehicle.

"Is this the Marion Motley?" the judge asked. Yes, the defendant acknowledged. "Well," said his honor, "I find you guilty, but suspended any fine in consideration of the great pleasure you gave the community in your playing days."

The great 1946-53 Cleveland Brown fullback now enshrined in the Pro Football, Hall of Fame -- in his hometown. Canton -- paid $13 court costs. Standard fine for the offense is $10 . . .

Jim Rice of the Red Sox says his sight is deteriorating and he's afraid it is affecting his game. "That's why i've looked back on some fly balls," he said, reckoning he needs stronger lenses than the contacts or glasses he has worn for astigmatism in his right eye since spring training of excuses for fanning three times against Nolan Ryan in Anaheim's Monday twilight, for Rice says, "My eye doesn't bother me at the plate, but I've been having trouble picking up the ball in the field . . ."

Preacher Maddox, the Maryland tailback is a football free agent again, dropped by the Ottawa Rough Riders in their Canadian league season's-eve cuts . . . East Carolina, which has had some good recruiting luck in the capital area in recent years, drew a year's basketball probation from the NCAA yesterday -- no postseason play nor NCAA-controlled television appearances in 1979-80. "The findings," said the Committee on Infractions, "related to the recruitment of one outstanding basketball player" . . . Joe Axelson, president of the Kansas City Kings and predecessor Cincinnati Royals for a decade, reportedly is about to switch to the NBA offices as "in-house basketball expert,' announcement due Thursday. His son, 27, left the Kings' front office yesterday to become assistant athletic director at St. Louis U. . . .

One of the outstanding woman softball pitchers of all time has died in Portland, Ore. (cancer): Betty Evans Grayson. Mainstay of two world title clubs, numbered 51 no-hitters among 465 victories. . . .

Jack Holloran, high-scoring guard for the Colonials a couple of years back, has come aboard Coach Bob Tallent's George Washington basketball staff as a part-time assistant . . . Ed Spriggs, who blossomed at center for Georgetown in the late 1978-79 going has been named to an 11-man ECAC all-star team for an August basketball tour of Yugoslavia . . .

The Capitals hasten to advise -- "the Redskins are going to camp Friday, we'd better make news now," a spokesman sagaciously said -- they have signed two 1978 draftees who made quite a splash in their debuts as Cap farmhands: Wes Jarvis, center, 14th-round choice who became al Hockey League for leading Port Huron with 109 points (44 goals, 65 assists), and teammate Jay Johnston, it up to the tune of 409 penalty minutes in the IHL.