Roger Clemens

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Roger Clemens : biography

August 4, 1962 –

Pitching style

Clemens for all of his career was a prototypical power pitcher with an aggressive edge. This was especially the case when he was a young man, when Clemens "threw two pitches: a 98-mph fastball and a hard breaking ball. At 23, Clemens simply reared back and threw the ball past batters." Later in his career, Clemens developed a devastating split-finger fastball to use as an off-speed pitch in concert with his fastball. Clemens has jocularly referred to this pitch as "Mr. Splitty."

By the time Clemens retired from Major League Baseball in 2007, his four-seam fastball had settled in the 91–94 mph range. He also threw a two-seam fastball, a slider in the mid 80s, his hard splitter, and an occasional curveball. Clemens was a highly durable pitcher, leading the American League in complete games three times and innings pitched twice. His 18 complete games in 1987 is more than any pitcher has thrown since. The Rocket was also known as a strikeout pitcher, leading the AL in K’s five times and strikeouts per nine innings three times.

Independent League comeback

On August 20, 2012, it was announced that Clemens would sign with the Sugar Land Skeeters of the Atlantic League of Professional Baseball. He pitched for the first time for the Skeeters on August 25, 2012 in front of a crowd of 7,724. It was the first time the 50-year-old had taken the mound in almost five years. In that game, Clemens pitched 3 scoreless innings. He faced the Bridgeport Bluefish and struck out two, including former major leaguer Joey Gathright to start the game, and allowed one hit without a walk and threw 37 pitches. In his second start for the Skeeters, on September 7, he pitched 4 scoreless innings, with his son, Koby, as his catcher.

Career

College

He began his college career pitching for San Jacinto College North in 1981, where he was 9–2. The New York Mets selected Clemens in the 12th round of the 1981 draft, but he did not sign. He then attended the University of Texas, compiling a 25–7 record in two All-American seasons, and was on the mound when the Longhorns won the 1983 College World Series. He became the first player to have his baseball uniform number retired at The University of Texas. In 2004, the Rotary Smith Award, given to America’s best college baseball player, was changed to the Roger Clemens Award, honoring the best pitcher.

At Texas, Clemens pitched 35 consecutive scoreless innings, a NCAA record that stood until Justin Pope broke it in 2001.

Boston Red Sox (1984–96)

Clemens was drafted 19th overall by the Boston Red Sox in 1983 and quickly rose through the minor league system, making his major league debut on May 15, . In 1986, his 24 wins helped guide the Sox to a World Series berth and earned Clemens the American League MVP award for the regular season. He also won the first of his seven Cy Young Awards. When Hank Aaron said that pitchers should not be eligible for the MVP, Clemens responded: "I wish he were still playing. I’d probably crack his head open to show him how valuable I was." Clemens was the only starting pitcher since Vida Blue in to win a league MVP award until Justin Verlander won the award in .

On April 29, , Clemens became the first pitcher in history to strike out 20 batters in a nine-inning major league game, against the Seattle Mariners at Fenway Park. Other than Clemens, himself, only Kerry Wood has matched the total. (Randy Johnson fanned 20 batters in nine innings on May 8, 2001. However, as the game went into extra innings, it is not categorized as occurring in a nine-inning game. Tom Cheney holds the record for any game: 21 strikeouts in 16 innings.) Clemens attributes his switch from what he calls a "thrower" to a "pitcher" to the partial season Hall of Fame pitcher Tom Seaver spent with the Red Sox in 1986.

On June 21, 1989, Clemens surrendered the first of 609 home runs in the career of Sammy Sosa. Sosa was then a rookie for the Texas Rangers.