William Roger Clemens (born August 4, 1962 in Dayton, Ohio), nicknamed "The Rocket", is among the preeminent Major League baseball pitchers of the 1980s, 1990s, and 2000s. He throws and bats right-handed.
After living in Dayton for the first few years of his life, Clemens spent the rest of his childhood in Texas. At Spring Woods High School, Clemens starred in football, basketball, and baseball. He began his college career in 1981, pitching for the San Jacinto College North Gators, where he was 9-2 and wore No. 26. His coach was Wayne Graham. He also attended the University of Texas, compiling a career as one of the best collegiate pitchers of all time, and was on the mound when the Longhorns won the 1983 College World Series.
He was drafted 19th overall by the Boston Red Sox, making his major league debut on May 15, 1984. In 1986 his 24 wins helped guide the Sox to the World Series (which they lost) and earned Clemens the American League Most Valuable Player award for the regular season and the first of his seven Cy Young Awards (he also won the AL award in 1987, 1991, 1997, 1998 and 2001 and the National League award in 2004). He was also a member of the MLB All-Century team in 1999.
Hall of Fame slugger Hank Aaron angered the hurler by saying that pitchers should not be eligible for the MVP. "I wish he were still playing," Clemens responded. "I'd probably crack his head open to show him how valuable I was." Clemens remains the only starting pitcher since Vida Blue in 1971 to win a league MVP award.
Clemens is one of only two pitchers to have thrown 20 strikeouts in a 9-inning major league game (Kerry Wood is the other. Randy Johnson also struck out 20 batters in the first nine innings of a game, but since the game went into extra innings, Johnson was not awarded the record). Remarkably, Clemens accomplished the feat twice; on April 29, 1986 against the Seattle Mariners at Fenway Park, and on September 18, 1996 against the Detroit Tigers at Tiger Stadium, more than ten years later. He accomplished both as a member of the Boston Red Sox.
"Twilight of his career"
After Red Sox general manager Dan Duquette infamously claimed Clemens was in the "twilight of his career" and opted not to re-sign him following the '96 season, Clemens signed with the Toronto Blue Jays. In his two seasons there, he won the Cy Young award both years. Clemens was traded to the New York Yankees before the 1999 season for David Wells, Homer Bush and Graeme Lloyd. In 1999 and 2000, he won World Series titles with the Yankees.
Clemens' 2000 season was marred by a pair of ugly moments involving New York Mets catcher Mike Piazza. During a July 8, 2000 game between the Mets and the Yankees, Clemens threw at and hit Piazza in the head with a pitched ball. Piazza had enjoyed great success as a hitter against Clemens (including a grand slam against Clemens one month earlier), which was seen as Clemens' motivation. The incident received intense media coverage, and when both the Yankees and the Mets reached that year's World Series, there was great anticipation regarding the two men's first confrontation since the beaning. Astoundingly, in that first at-bat (in the 1st inning of Game 2 of the 2000 World Series), Piazza's bat shattered, sending a large piece of the broken bat shard flying in Clemens' direction. Clemens picked it up and threw down toward the first base line, narrowly missing Piazza, clearing the benches of both teams. Clemens, surprisingly, was not ejected from the game, although he would later be fined $50,000.
In 2001, he became the first pitcher in history to start a year 20-1. He finished the season at 20-3 and added another Cy Young Award to his resume.
Early in 2003, he announced his retirement, effective at the end of that season. On June 13, 2003, pitching against the St. Louis Cardinals in Yankee Stadium, Clemens recorded his 300th career win and 4,000th career strikeout, the only player in history to record both milestones in the same game. The 300th win came on his fourth try; the Yankee bullpen blew his chance of a win in his previous two attempts. He became the 21st pitcher ever to record 300 wins and just the third ever to record 4,000 strikeouts, joining Nolan Ryan (5,714) and Steve Carlton (4,136). His career record upon reaching the milestones was an impressive 300-155; his record at the end of the season was 310-160 with 4,099 strikeouts.
He chose to put off his retirement, signing a one-year deal with his hometown Houston Astros on January 12, 2004, joining close friend and former Yankees teammate Andy Pettitte. On May 5 2004, Clemens recorded his 4,137th career strikeout to place him second on the all-time list behind Nolan Ryan. He finished the season with 4,317 strikeouts and an 18-4 record, giving him a career record of 328-164. After the season, he won his seventh Cy Young Award, extending his record number of awards. He became the oldest player ever to win this award, at age 42. This also made him the fourth pitcher to win the award in both leagues, after Gaylord Perry, Pedro Martínez, and Randy Johnson.
Clemens again decided to put off retirement before the 2005 season after the Houston Astros offered salary arbitration. The Astros submitted an offer of $13.5 million and Clemens countered with a record $22 million demand. On January 21 2005, both sides agreed on a one-year, $18 million contract, thus avoiding arbitration. The deal gave Clemens the highest yearly salary earned by a pitcher in MLB history.
Clemens' 2005 season ended as one of the finest he had ever posted. His 1.87 ERA was the lowest in the major leagues, the lowest of his 22-season career, and the lowest by any National Leaguer since pitching great and contemporary rival Greg Maddux in 1995. He finished with a 13-8 record despite ranking near 100th in run support, with the Astros scoring an average of only about 3.5 runs per game in games in which he was the pitcher of record. The Astros were shut out eight times in Clemens' starts.
He has more career wins than any other right-handed pitcher of the live-ball era. On April 8 2005, Clemens won his first start of the season against the Cincinnati Reds, which tied him with Steve Carlton for second in wins for live-ball pitchers, and first among pitchers whose career began after World War II. However, it took him a month to surpass Carlton, as he was victimized by horrendous run support in a string of five starts that produced one loss and four no-decisions. On May 9, he finally got his second win of the season against the Florida Marlins, giving him 330 for his career. Only left-hander Warren Spahn is ahead of Clemens in wins among live-ball pitchers. Passing Carlton also gave Clemens more wins than any pitcher alive. As long as the era of five-man pitching rotations continues, it will be difficult for future pitchers to pass Clemens on the career wins list. The only current pitcher with a reasonable chance of passing Clemens is Maddux, who has 318 wins to Clemens' 341 and is nearly four years younger.
On October 9 2005, Clemens made his first relief appearance since 1984, entering as a pinch hitter in the 15th, and pitching three innings to help the Astros defeat the Atlanta Braves in the longest postseason game in MLB history. The game ran 18 innings, and Clemens was awarded the win.
On October 22 2005, his last performance of the 2005 season, he lasted only two innings in Game 1 of the 2005 World Series. He continued to be hampered by a hamstring pull he had been battling since at least September.
The Astros declined arbitration to Clemens on December 7 2005, meaning the team cannot re-sign him before May 1 2006. As of December 2005, there are a number of teams that have expressed an interest in him, including a possible return to the Red Sox or the Yankees. Irrespective of this, Clemens and the Astros have already agreed to a ten-year personal services contract that will go into effect when he retires.
Interviews with Jose Canseco and trainer Brian McNamee stated that Clemens used human growth hormone, Deca-Durabolin, Winstrol, Sustanon, and possibly Anadrol, during the 1998, 2000, and 2001 MLB seasons, some of which he obtained through McNamee from Radomski. Radomski corroborated these allegations as far as to say that he sold performance-enhancing drugs to McNamee in amounts that were clearly for redistribution. Clemens declined interview.
Clemens, who had denied the allegations, was singled out in nearly nine pages, 82 references by name. Much of the information on Clemens came from former New York Yankees strength and conditioning coach Brian McNamee.
"The illegal use of performance-enhancing substances poses a serious threat to the integrity of the game," the report said. "Widespread use by players of such substances unfairly disadvantages the honest athletes who refuse to use them and raises questions about the validity of baseball records."
- Selected by New York Mets in the 12th round of the free-agent draft - did not sign (June 8, 1981).
- Selected by Boston Red Sox in the 1st round (19th pick overall) of the free-agent draft (June 6, 1983 - signed June 21, 1983).
- Granted free agency (November 5, 1996).
- Signed by Toronto Blue Jays (December 13, 1996).
- Traded by Toronto Blue Jays to New York Yankees in exchange for Homer Bush, Graeme Lloyd and David Wells (February 18, 1999).
- Granted free agency (October 31, 2002).
- Signed by New York Yankees (December 30, 2002).
- Granted free agency (November 6, 2003).
- Signed by Houston Astros (January 19, 2004).
- Granted free agency (November 11, 2004).
- Signed by Houston Astros (December 13, 2004).
- Granted free agency (November 10, 2005).
- Signed by Houston Astros (May 31, 2006).
- Granted free agency (October 31, 2006).
- Signed as a Free Agent with the New York Yankees (May 6, 2007).
- Granted Free Agency (October 30, 2007).
- On October 10, 1990 Clemens was ejected in the 2nd inning of an ALCS game for cursing at home plate umpire Terry Cooney. He was suspended for the first 5 games of the 1991 season and fined $10,000.
- Clemens made some TV appearances on The Simpsons (while with the Boston Red Sox) and Hope and Faith (Retired from baseball at that time when the episode was aired).
- During the 2005 season, Roger Clemens was the 6th highest paid player in Major League Baseball at $18,000,022.00.
- While he has two championship rings, Clemens has also been on the losing end of four World Series (1986 Red Sox, 2001 and 2003 Yankees and 2005 Astros) which is tied with Tom Glavine and John Smoltz for most among active players.
- In 1999, while many of his more amazing (due to his age) performances and milestones were yet to come, he ranked number 53 on The Sporting News' list of the 100 Greatest Baseball Players, and was elected by the fans to the Major League Baseball All-Century Team. In 2005, the updated Sporting News list moved Clemens up to #15.
- Clemens married Debra Godfrey on November 24, 1984. They have 4 sons: Koby, Kory, Kacy, and Kody. ("K" is a baseball scorer's notation for "strikeout.") Koby, then 18, was drafted by the Astros as a third baseman on July 14, 2005.
- 1986 American League MVP
- 1986, '87, '91, '97, '98, & 2001 American League Cy Young Award
- 1986 All-Star MVP
- 2004 National League Cy Young Award
- Lowest ERA in AL in 1986, '90, '91, '92, '97, and '98 (lowest: 1.93 in 1991)
- Lowest ERA in NL in 2005 (1.87)
- Led AL in wins in 1986, '87, '97, and '98 (most: 24 in 1986)
- Led AL in win/loss percentage in 1986 & 2001 (most: .870 in 2001)
- Led NL in win/loss percentage in 2004 (.818)
- Fewest hits allowed per nine innings in AL in 1986, '94 & '98 (fewest: 6.34 in 1994)
- Fewest hits allowed per nine innings in NL in 2005 (6.43)
- Most strikeouts per nine inning in AL in 1988, '96, '98 (most: 10.39 in 1998)
- Led AL in innings pitched in 1991 & 1997 (most: 271.3 in '91)
- Led AL in strikeouts in 1988, '91, '96, '97, & '98 (most: 292 in 1997)
- Led AL in games started in 1991 (35)
- Most complete games in AL in 1987, '88 & '97 (most: 18 in 1987)
- Most shutouts in Al in 1987, '88, '90, '91, '92, & '97 (most: 8 in 1988)
- Most career walks allowed (1,553)
- Most career earned runs allowed (1,670)
- Most wild pitches in AL in 2001 (14)
- Most batters hit in AL in 1995 (14)
- Most batters faced in AL in 1991 (1077), all-time leader in batters faced (19,892)
- Oldest player in AL in 2007 (44 years)