Rocket Launch

Roger Clemens debuts on BBWAA Hall of Fame ballot

December 13, 2012

His career took him to the game’s greatest heights, spanning three decades and two distinct eras.

Now, Roger Clemens debuts on the BBWAA Hall of Fame ballot.

Clemens, who won a record seven Cy Young Awards, is one of 37 players on the Baseball Writers’ Association of America ballot for the Class of 2013 at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.

BBWAA members who have at least 10 years of tenure with the organization can vote in the election, and the results will be announced Jan. 9. Any candidate who receives votes on at least 75 percent of all BBWAA ballots cast will be enshrined in the Hall of Fame as part of the Class of 2013. The Induction Ceremony will be held July 28 in Cooperstown.

Born William Roger Clemens on Aug. 4, 1962, in Dayton, Ohio, the boy who would become “The Rocket” moved to Houston during his high school years and quickly established himself as a pro pitching prospect.

“I was eight playing on a nine-year-old team when I punched out the side on nine pitches,” said Clemens of the first time he knew a big league career was a possibility. “My mother said she knew back then.”

Clemens was drafted by the Mets in the 12th round of the 1981 MLB Draft, but chose to attend the University of Texas and pitch for the Longhorns. Then in 1983, Clemens was drafted again – this time by the Red Sox as the 19th overall pick in the first round. By 1984, Clemens was in the Red Sox’s rotation – going 9-4 en route to a sixth-place finish in the American League Rookie of the Year balloting. He battled a shoulder injury the following year, but in 1986 Clemens emerged as an ace by going 24-4 with a 2.48 earned-run average, winning the AL Cy Young and Most Valuable Player Awards while leading Boston to the World Series. That same year, Clemens set a record by striking out 20 Mariners in a nine-inning game on April 29, 1986.

Clemens won his second Cy Young Award the following season with a 20-9 record, captured three straight ERA titles from 1990-92 and won the Cy Young Award again in 1991. But after winning just 40 games in over four seasons from 1993-96, Boston let Clemens leave via free agency.

Clemens signed with Toronto, and with the Blue Jays in 1997-98 he recaptured his form by winning Cy Young awards both seasons. He also led the league in ERA and strikeouts both years, winning his first two pitching Triple Crowns.

Just before the 1999 season, the Blue Jays traded Clemens to the Yankees for David Wells, Homer Bush and Graeme Lloyd. In New York, Clemens helped the Yankees win World Series titles in 1999 and 2000, the won his sixth Cy Young Award in 2001 while posting a 20-3 record.

“That first championship, that’s what you play for at this level,” said Clemens whose Red Sox teams had made the postseason four times without winning the World Series.

In 2003, Clemens became just the 21st pitcher in baseball history to record 300 victories.

Clemens signed with the Astros as a free agent prior to the 2004 season, returning home to win his seventh Cy Young Award that year – then leading the National League with a 1.87 ERA the following season at the age of 42. After partial seasons with the Astros in 2006 and Yankees in 2007, Clemens retired.

His final numbers: a record of 354-184, with a 3.12 ERA and 4,672 strikeouts. His win total ranks ninth all-time and his strikeout totals trail those of only Nolan Ryan and Randy Johnson.

Craig Muder is the director of communications for the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum