Yesterday, Jim Thome, Chipper Jones, Trevor Hoffman and Vladimir Guerrero were elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame. All four of them are deserving players who belong.
But a handful of players continue to get blackballed, whether you agree or disagree, by the voters. And one of them is perhaps the greatest baseball player Texas ever produced: Roger Clemens.
We’re not here to talk about that past. But there was a sense before the inductees were announced that players like Clemens and Barry Bonds were starting to get closer to the hall as time goes by. That was not really the case.
Clemens — who has 354 wins, 4,672 strikeouts and seven Cy Young Awards — was on 57 percent of the ballots. That’s 75 votes away from induction. He was closer than Bonds, who is not blackballed enough to never work in Major League Baseball and teach young players how to be a big leaguer, but is blackballed enough to not be another plaque in a hall of plaques.
We may never get to see Clemens inducted in Cooperstown. And right now there doesn’t seem to be any former Longhorn who will get in the hall anytime soon.
But Clemens is in one Hall, and he’ll never be blackballed on the 40 Acres.
The Rocket entered the Longhorn Hall of Honor in 1994, 11 years after he left campus following a two-year run where he went 25-7 and had ERAs of 1.99 and 3.04 and helped Texas win the 1983 National title over Alabama.
After being inducted into the Longhorn Hall of Honor, at the time he was still a Boston Red Sox, Clemens pitched another 13 years, winning four more Cy Young Awards, leading MLB in ERA three more times and helping the New York Yankees win two World Series championships.
Clemens has four sons: Koby, Kody, Kory and Kacy. Koby, the oldest, signed to play baseball with the Longhorns but instead went straight to pro ball when he was drafted by the Houston Astros in 2005. Kory is a chef in Houston. Kacy was drafted by the Blue Jays last year after a standout senior season at Texas, and Kody is a current member of the UT baseball team.
Roger has returned to play in the UT Alumni game in the past, which this season will be on Feb. 3., but he hasn’t announced if he’ll be participating in this year’s game.
And if he does, it probably won’t come close to his best game ever — possibly the greatest pitched game ever- – he had on April 29, 1986 against the Seattle Mariners at Fenway Park.