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Roger Clemens

the first pitcher in history to strike out 20 batters in a nine-inning Major League game

William Roger Clemens was born in Dayton, Ohio, on August 4, 1962. His parents separated when he was an infant, and his mother subsequently married Woody Booher, the man Clemens considers his father; Booher died when Roger was nine years old.

Clemens spent his high school years at Spring Woods High School in Houston, Texas, where he starred in football, basketball, and baseball. He was scouted by the Philadelphia Phillies and Minnesota Twins during his senior year, but opted for college instead.

As a pitcher for San Jacinto College North in 1981, Clemens compiled a 9-2 record. He was selected by the New York Mets in the 1981 draft, but did not sign. Instead, he went to the University of Texas, where he compiled a 25-7 record in two All-American seasons. He was on the mound when the Longhorns won the 1983 College World Series, and subsequently became the first player to have his baseball uniform number retired at the University of Texas.

Boston Red Sox, 1984-1996

Roger Clemens as a Red Sox

Drafted 19th overall by the Red Sox in 1983, Clemens quickly rose through the Minor League system and made his Major League debut on May 15, 1984.

On April 29, 1986, Clemens became the first pitcher in history to strike out 20 batters in a nine-inning Major League game, at Fenway Park against the Seattle Mariners. Since then, only Kerry Wood and Randy Johnson have duplicated this accomplishment. The record for any game is 21, held by Tom Cheney, for a 16-inning game.

On September 18, 1996, Clemens became the only pitcher in Major League history to strike out 20 batters twice. The feat happened at Tiger Stadium.

At the end of the 1996 season, Red Sox general manager Dan Duquette said Clemens was in the "twilight of his career" and opted not to re-sign him. Clemens signed with the Toronto Blue Jays during the off-season.

Toronto Blue Jays, 1997-1998

Roger Clemens as a Blue Jay

On July 12, 1997, his first start as a Blue Jay, Clemens gave up only 4 hits and 1 run in 8 innings. 16 of his 24 outs were strikeouts, and every batter who faced him struck out at least once. The game was played, ironically enough, in Fenway Park.

Won the pitching Triple Crown and the Cy Young award in both seasons.

During the off-season, Clemens was traded to the New York Yankees for David Wells, Homer Bush and Graeme Lloyd.

New York Yankees, 1999-2003

Roger Clemens as a Yankee

Helped the Yankees win the World Series in 1999 and 2000.

In 2001, Clemens became the first pitcher in Major League history to start a season 20-1; he ended it at 20-3.

Early in the 2003 season, Clemens announced his intention to retire at the end of the season.

On June 13, 2003, pitching against the St. Louis Cardinals in Yankee Stadium, he recorded his 300th career win and 4,000th strikeout, the only player in Major League history to record both milestones in the same game. He became the 21st pitcher to record 300 wins, and only the third to record 4,000 strikeouts.

He made one start in the World Series against the Florida Marlins, and left trailing 3-1 after seven innings.

Ended the season with a career record of 310-160 and 4,099 strikeouts.

Houston Astros, 2004-2007

Roger Clemens as an Astro

On January 12, 2004, Clemens decided to un-retire and signed a one-year deal with the Astros.

On May 5, 2004, he recorded his 4,137th strikeout to place him second on the all-time list behind Nolan Ryan.

He finished the 2004 season with an 18-4 record, 4,317 career strikeouts, and a career record of 328-164. At age 42, he also became the oldest player ever to win the Cy Young Award.

An $18,000,022 contract convinced Clemens to put off his retirement for another year. The deal gave Clemens the highest yearly salary ever earned by a pitcher in Major League history, as well as the sixth highest paid player in baseball that year.

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. On May 9, he got his second win of the season against the Florida Marlins, setting a new record for career wins by a right-handed pitcher (330) and placing him second on the all-time list for all pitchers behind Warren Spahn (a left-hander).

He ended the 2005 season with a league-leading 1.87 ERA, which was also the lowest of his career and the lowest since Greg Maddux in 1995.

On October 9, 2005, Clemens made his first relief appearance since 1984, entering as a pinch hitter in the 15th inning of the National League Championship. He then pitched three innings to help the Astros defeat the Atlanta Braves in the longest post-season game in Major League history (18 innings); Clemens was awarded the win.

The Astros declined to re-sign Clemens following the 2005 season. Although the Rangers, Red Sox and Yankees all expressed an interest in signing him, Clemens turned them all down.

On March 16, 2006, Clemens' Team USA was eliminated by Mexico in the second round of the World Baseball Classic.

On May 31, 2006, Clemens signed a one-year contract with the Astros worth $22,000,022, which would have been the highest one-year salary in Major League history. However, since Clemens did not play a full season, he only received a pro-rated percentage of that contract -- a paltry $12.25 million. He made his return on June 22, 2006, against the Minnesota Twins, and lost to their rookie pitcher, Francisco Liriano, 4-2. He retired for good on September 16, 2007.

Career Record

347 wins - 176 losses
3.11 ERA
4,581 strikeouts (2nd behind Nolan Ryan)

Is one of only four pitchers to surpass 4,000 strikeouts.

He is tied with Tom Glavine and John Smoltz for most World Series losses among active players (4).

Honors and Awards

Winner of seven Cy Young Awards, two more than any other pitcher.
He is the fourth pitcher to win the award in both leagues.

Named American League Most Valuable Player in 1984, 1987, 1991, 1997, 1998 and 2001.
Named National League Most Valuable Player in 2004.
He is the only starting pitcher since Vida Blue in 1971 to win a league MVP award.

Ranked Number 53 on The Sporting News' list of the 100 Greatest Baseball Players, in 1999.

Elected to the Major League Baseball All-Century Team by fans in 1999.

In 2004, the University of Texas changed the name of its award for best college pitcher from the Rotary Smith Award to the Roger Clemens Award.

Moved up to Number 15 by The Sporting News in 2005.

Has been a member of eleven All-Star teams.
Won the All-Star MVP in 1986.

Has won The Sporting News Pitcher of the Year Award five times.

Family Life

Roger Clemens and Debra Godfrey were married on November 24, 1984. They have four sons: Koby, Kory, Kacy, and Kody. Koby was drafted by the Astros as a third baseman and signed on July 14, 2005, at the age of eighteen.

Other Information

Clemens' autobiography, Rocket Man: The Roger Clemens Story, written with Peter Gammons, was published in 1988.

Clemens has appeared as himself in several television episodes, including The Simpsons, Hope and Faith, Spin City, and Saturday Night Live. He has also appeared in a few movies, including Kingpin, Anger Management, and Cobb.


Houston Astros
Roger Clemens Foundation

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This page was last updated on August 04, 2018.