Roger Clemens discusses changes in modern baseball, favorite career moments in KLTV exclusive
TYLER, Texas (KLTV) - MLB legend and Texas native Roger Clemens was in Tyler Saturday at FRESH by Brookshire’s, signing autographs while promoting a tobacco-free dip product. KLTV’s JD Conte got to talk baseball with the Rocket beforehand.
“Those 24 years pale to the question you just asked,” said the seven-time Cy Young winner, recalling the night he pitched in the Yankee’s first game back at Yankee Stadium after 9/11. “I was supposed to go out and pitch that night, going for that 20th win in New York City, and my buddy woke me up around 8 a.m., and we learned what’s going on, and that our world had changed.”
Clemens said that getting to visit troops in the Middle East in years to come was one of the greatest experiences of his career.
“It was the experience of a lifetime. I saw 14 to 16,000 of our men and women, people that protect us where I can go out on the mound in front of 55,000 people and feel safe doing my work. That’s what we want to get back feeling like as Americans,” said Clemens.
Of course, the 11-time All-Star has plenty of on-the-field memories. But, none of those included a pitch clock, perhaps the biggest change in his position today, and one he’s a big fan of.
“The pitch clock is great. I think when I was back working over my 24 years, I would have loved [it]. I work pretty quickly from the mound. I called about 90-95% of my game from the mound, from my looks to my catcher, so my catchers were really important to me. We paid attention to detail and were able to get it done that way,” Clemens said.
In the modern world of hundred-million-dollar contracts, the Rocket said it takes more than big wallets to bring home the October hardware.
“When you get mid-September, early October, and you get into the dance, and you have to win eleven games, it’s all about pitching and defense,“ said Clemens. “You have to have a couple of big arms that can control the tempo of the game, and you have to have a really good team that gets along with each other when you’re in that type of position, so the money is one thing, you can go in and get these players, but you still have to go out and perform.”
When it comes to modern-day mega contracts, Clemens said progress has been made over the decades.
“Well, I have a lot of the older plays from when I was coming up to thank because they moved the bar as far as the dollars they were getting paid. There are only 600 of us in the country that can do what we do at the highest level,” he said.
Clemens has had several sons in MLB franchises in the past couple of years, but he has a couple of other favorite players.
“You just hope that somebody like Ohtani or Mike Trout can eventually make it to the playoffs and experience postseason play. I think that’s the most important thing. If you asked these guys, money aside, team aside, they desperately want to get to the playoffs and have a chance to win a world series,” said Clemens.
With the MLB trade deadline just days away, Clemens said some teams have huge decisions to make.
“There are some really interesting teams that have to make a decision in the next three days, if they’re gonna go for it or if they’re gonna be buyers or sellers,” said Clemens.
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