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This Day In Sports…May 20, 1984:
Boston’s Roger Clemens records the first of his 354 career victories as the Red Sox beat the Minnesota Twins, 5-4. Two years later, Clemens won the first of his seven Cy Young Awards and took home American League MVP honors to boot in a season that included a record 20 strikeouts in a single game and a World Series appearance. The sky appeared to be the limit for the “Rocket.” Clemens liked to intimidate batters with chin music and infamously bickered with home plate umpires, and with that as a backdropm he piled up big numbers.
Clemens would spend the first half of his 24-year big league career with the Red Sox before signing as a free agent with the Toronto Blue Jays in 1996. He won his fourth and fifth Cy Young Awards north of the border—then was traded to the New York Yankees prior to the 1999 season. Clemens won his only two World Series championships in his first two seasons with the Yanks, and in the third he became the first pitcher in big league history to start a campaign 20-1. He retired briefly after the 2003 season but came out of it to sign with his hometown Houston Astros, for whom he pitched three seasons.
Clemens finished his career in 2007 back with the Yankees, under a cloud of suspicion regarding alleged steroid use. Murmurs of steroids increased in volume when the Mitchell Report was released just after Clemens retired in 2007, alleging that he took performance-enhancing drugs late in his career. His name appeared 82 times in the document. Clemens vehemently denied the accusations at Congressional hearings but was indicted on six felony counts, capped by Contempt of Congress. After a mistrial, a second verdict found him not guilty on all six counts, but much of baseball (and the general public) remained unconvinced.
Despite his seven Cy Youngs, his 4,672 career strikeouts (third all-time) and his 3.12 career ERA (an excellent number in the turn-of-the-century era), Clemens has never come close to being elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame. His 10 years of eligibility ended earlier this year when he received 65.2 percent of the vote (75 percent is required for induction). It’s not over yet, though, as the Hall’s “Today’s Game Committee” could still vote him in when it meets this December.
(Tom Scott hosts the Scott Slant segment during the football season on KTVB’s Sunday Sports Extra. He also anchors four sports segments each weekday on 95.3 FM KTIK and one on News/Talk KBOI. His Scott Slant column runs every Wednesday.)
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