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Roger Clemens
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Roger Clemens

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 early 2000s.

Clemens spent most of his childhood in Texas. He attended high school in the Houston area, 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 six Cy Young Awards (he also won the award in 1987, 1991, 1997, 1998 and 2001). 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 1968 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). 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.

Clemens signed with the Toronto Blue Jays in 1997. In his 2 seasons there, he won the Cy Young. Then, to the disgust of many Boston fans, Clemens was traded to the New York Yankees before the 1999 season for David Wells, Homer Bush, and Graeme Lloyd. In 2001, he became the first pitcher in history to start a year 201. He finished the season at 20-3, at the age 39. In 1999 and 2000, he won World Series titles with the Yankees.

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.

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, Kory, Kacy, and Kody ("K" is a baseball scorer's notation for "strikeout"). He attributes his longevity to a grueling fitness regimen.

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