Thursday, Jun 15, 2006
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22 things you should know about 'Rocket'

Roger Clemens: a legend to take mound for Legends

By Mark Story
HERALD-LEADER SPORTS COLUMNIST

On this day, "Lexington Legends" is literal.

On the night that Roger Clemens (No. 22) begins his return to professional baseball by pitching for the Legends at Applebee's Park, here are 22 fastballs as warm-up for the occasion:

1. Roger Clemens was born Aug. 4, 1962, in Dayton, Ohio.

2. His parents separated when he was an infant. The man Clemens considers his father, his stepdad Woody Booher, died when Roger was nine. Across the years, Clemens has occasionally been quoted as saying the only time he's ever felt jealousy toward other ballplayers is when he would see them in the clubhouse with their fathers.

3. The Clemens family moved from Ohio to the Houston area in 1977. Roger pitched and played first base in baseball, was a defensive end in football and a center in basketball for Spring Woods High School (Class of 1980).

4. Clemens' boyhood idol: Nolan Ryan.

5. When the Texas Longhorns beat Alabama to win the 1983 College World Series, the winning pitcher was Roger Clemens.

6. Clemens married the former Debra Godfrey on Nov. 24, 1984. They have four sons Ð Koby, Kory, Kacy and Kody. The "K motif" for naming the Clemens boys comes from the fact that "K" is the baseball scorer's symbol for a strikeout.

7. April 29, 1986. Clemens delivers a calling card to big-league baseball by striking out a major-league record 20 Seattle Mariners in a nine-inning game. Amazingly, he will match that feat exactly 10 seasons later by fanning 20 Detroit Tigers on Sept. 18, 1996.

8. The starting pitcher for Boston in the infamous "Bill Buckner Game" (Game 6) of the 1986 World Series against the Mets was Roger Clemens. He left the game after seven innings, handing over a 3-2 lead to Boston relief ace Calvin Schiraldi. New York won 6-5 in 10 innings, the winning run scoring when a slow grounder rolled through the legs of Boston first baseman Buckner.

9. Hammerin' Hank. After Clemens won the 1986 American League MVP (going 24-4), home run king Henry Aaron was quoted as saying that pitchers should not be given the Most Valuable Player award. Clemens' reply: "I wish he was still playing. I'd probably crack his head open to show him how valuable I was."

10. Career low point. Trailing Oakland 1-0 in the second inning of Game Four of the 1990 American League Championship Series, Boston starting pitcher Roger Clemens is ejected by home-plate umpire Terry Cooney after a dispute over ball-and-strike calls.

11. Walter "Big Train" Johnson. The role of the fire-balling pitching great of the early 20th century is played by Roger Clemens in the 1994 motion picture Cobb. Tommy Lee Jones plays Ty Cobb.

12. 149-61. Roger Clemens' record as a big-league pitcher since ex-Red Sox GM Dan Duquette justified Boston's failure to re-sign its long-time pitching ace after the 1996 season by noting that Clemens was "in the twilight of his career."

13. No. 21 becomes No. 22. Clemens wore No. 21 for both of his first two big-league clubs, Boston and Toronto. But when he was traded to the Yankees before the 1999 season, outfielder Paul O'Neill already had No. 21. Clemens chose No. 22. When Clemens signed as a free agent with Houston before the 2004 season, No. 21 was also taken. His close friend and ex-Yankees teammate, Andy Pettitte, had asked for No. 21 to honor Clemens.

14. "What's your problem?" What Mike Piazza apparently said to Clemens (source: a 2000 interview with Kentuckian Charlie Reliford, the home plate umpire that night) after Clemens fired a piece of Piazza's shattered bat near the Mets' catcher as Piazza ran toward first base in the first inning of the second game of the 2000 World Series between the Mets and Yankees.

15. Head hunting. Clemens has always had a reputation as a bit of a bean-ball artist. Coming into this season, he'd hit one batter every 31.4 innings he's pitched in his career. In comparison, Pedro Martinez had hit one hitter every 21.1 innings pitched, Randy Johnson one per 21.4 and Greg Maddux one per 35.3.

16. Only one big-league pitcher has ever beaned Roger Clemens while Clemens was batting: Kip Wells in 2005.

17. 600. The number of abdominal crunches Clemens reportedly does daily as part of a rugged workout regimen that also includes distance running, agility drills, and weight training.

18. 2003. The year that Debbie and Roger Clemens appeared together in the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue.

19. 1.87. The Earned Run Average compiled in 2005 by a starting pitcher - Houston's Roger Clemens - who was 43 years old when the season ended.

20. Six. Number of World Series played in by Clemens. He's been on two Series winners, the 1999 and 2000 New York Yankees, and four Series losers: the 1986 Red Sox, the 2001 and 2003 Yankees and the 2005 Astros.

21. One. The number of pitchers in baseball history who have won seven Cy Young Awards -- Roger Clemens.

22. Zero. The number of living men who have more than the 341 big-league wins that the starting pitcher for the Lexington Legends will take to the mound in Applebee's Park tonight.


Reach Mark Story at (859) 231-3230, or (800) 950-6397, Ext. 3230, or at mstory@herald-leader.com.