PAWTUCKET, R.I. (AP) — Roger Clemens only pitched in seven games for the Pawtucket Red Sox during a six-week stopover on his way from the Texas Longhorns to the major leagues.
It made quite an impression.
The Triple-A affiliate of the Boston Red Sox inducted Clemens into its hall of fame on Friday night, not so much for what he accomplished in the International League but for a 24-year career in the majors in which he won 354 games and a record seven Cy Young Awards.
“Thanks to you, I made a lot of money, buddy,” former Red Sox manager Joe Morgan, who scouted Clemens and then managed him in Boston, said in a ceremony before the PawSox game against the Indianapolis Indians on Friday night. “The first time I saw Roger down in Texas … I said, ‘This guy’s going to be a big boy in the big leagues.'”
Ex-teammates Dennis “Oil Can” Boyd, Rich Gedman and Tommy Harper joined Clemens on the field, along with one of his Cy Young plaques and his 1986 AL MVP award. The PawSox presented him with pair of commemorative prints and a pair of shadowboxes with 20 baseballs apiece, each ball inscribed with a victim from one of his two 20-strikeout games.
Clemens took time out to remember another former teammate, Bill Buckner, who died last month.
“I’m so happy that we do have a few of our current teammates. Billy Buckner was just that, he was a fantastic teammate,” Clemens said. “There wasn’t anybody more intense. If you fans could see what we saw as players … This man could swing it. He will always be a winner in our hearts.”
An 11-time All-Star who is third all-time with 4,672 career strikeouts, Clemens was inducted into the Red Sox hall of fame in 2014. But he has not been able to earn election into the Cooperstown, New York, shrine because of his association with performance-enhancing drugs.
Clemens won a College World Series championship with Texas and helped the Red Sox Double-A team in New Britain win a title as a 20-year-old professional rookie in 1983. He started the next season in Pawtucket and went 2-3 with a 1.93 ERA, striking out 50 in 46 2/3 innings and pitching three complete games before he made his major league debut on May 15, 1984.
Clemens came back to the PawSox twice more for injury rehab outings, in 1993 and ’95.
“Pawtucket, Rhode Island, was the launching pad of our Rocket Man,” public address announcer Josh Maurer said.
Before catching the ceremonial first pitch, Clemens tipped his hat to the players in both dugouts and told them, “Keep chasing your dreams.”
“All you coaches, managers, players on your way up to the big leagues, I wish you the best,” he said. “Just remember: This game is not easy.”