Roger Clemens

From Academic Kids

Roger Clemens pitching for the Houston Astros in 2004, his first season in the National League
Roger Clemens pitching for the Houston Astros in 2004, his first season in the National League

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.

Clemens spent most of his childhood in Texas. He attended Spring Woods High School in Houston, and was on the mound when the University of Texas 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). 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 9 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, and on September 18, 1996 against the Detroit Tigers, more than 10 years later.

After Boston opted not to re-sign him following the '96 season, Clemens signed with the Toronto Blue Jays. In his 2 seasons there, he won the Cy Young 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. 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 first 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, and finished the season with 4,317 strikeouts. Clemens had an 18-4 record in 2004, 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 Martnez, 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 $13.5m and Clemens countered with a record $22m demand. However, on January 21, 2005 both sides agreed on a one-year, $18m contract, thus avoiding arbitration. The deal gave Clemens the highest yearly salary earned by a pitcher in MLB history.

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. 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.

His storied temper has gotten him into hot water more than once. On October 10, 1990 he was ejected in the 2nd inning of an ALCS game for cursing at home plate umpire Terry Cooney. Clemens was suspended for the first 5 games of the 1991 season and fined $10,000. (Ironically, he was only one of two major leaguers who refused to cross the picket line when the umpires later went on strike.) In the 1st inning of Game 2 of the 2000 World Series, Clemens threw a piece of a shattered bat at the New York Mets' Mike Piazza, clearing both benches. Clemens was fined $50,000.

Clemens married Debra Godfrey on November 24, 1984. They have 4 sons: Koby Clemens, Kory, Kacy, and Kody ("K" is a baseball scorer's notation for "strikeout"). He attributes his longevity to a grueling fitness regimen.


During the 2005 season, Roger Clemens is the 6th highest paid player in Major League Baseball at $18,000,022.00.

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