07/15/2003 8:09 PM ET
Clemens happy in Chicago
By Mark Feinsand / MLB.com
CHICAGO -- When Roger Clemens found out that he would indeed have one last opportunity to pitch in an All-Star Game, he gathered his family to tell them the news. Vacationing at the family's lake house north of Houston, Clemens received the support of his wife and three of his four sons. The lone dissenter? Seven-year-old Kody, Clemens' youngest boy.
Roger Clemens arrives on the field during American League warmups before Tuesday's All-Star Game. (Charles Rex Arbogast/AP)
"I sat down with my family and told them what was going on," Clemens said. "We had a lot of family stuff planned, but everybody was all for it except for my little one. He sighed, took a deep breath and said, 'Why can't they get Andy Pettitte?'"
When Clemens told Kody that they would go fishing on Wednesday, he received the final approval, making the family vote a unanimous one.
"We're going to have a good day tomorrow," Clemens said. "Once he got to the stadium here, he was pretty excited."
Clemens was pretty excited too, walking into the American League's clubhouse at 4:10 p.m. with his two oldest sons, 16-year-old Koby and 15-year-old Kory. Dressed in a gray suit, Clemens strolled to his locker and began dressing for pregame warmups, which had already gotten underway.
Clemens tossed a perfect third inning in the AL's 7-6 victory, helping his league secure home-field advantage for this fall's World Series. Clemens got Javy Lopez to ground out to open the inning, then struck out Jose Vidro and Edgar Renteria -- his 4,000th strikeout victim -- to end the inning.
"That was probably one of the best parts of the night, getting to see Rocket out there one more time," said Jason Giambi. "He's an unbelievable professional. To come in for that one perfect inning, give the fans that one last chance to see him before he rides off into the sunset, it was special."
Clemens replaced Barry Zito on the AL squad, as the Oakland southpaw was told by the A's that the team did not want him to pitch in the game after hurling eight innings on Sunday. When Clemens was asked to replace him, he felt obligated to help his league try to gain home-field advantage for this fall's World Series.
Before the game, Clemens discussed his feelings on being a part of the AL squad, as he and his teammates had a chance to take home-field advantage away from the National League.
"I was relieved to know that no one got hurt, that Barry had just pitched a lot of innings (on Sunday). I'm glad to have the opportunity to help out," Clemens said. "I'm ready to work and try to help out. It's important for the American League, because we can steal one here. We can swipe home field right from under their feet with a good game tonight."
Clemens almost didn't make it. After making the decision to travel to Chicago, Clemens arranged for his private jet to pick him and his family up in Houston on Tuesday morning. But a hurricane in the Houston area forced Clemens to alter his plans, as he packed the family into the car to drive 1 1/2 hours west to College Station, where the jet would be waiting.
"When someone calls and says they need an arm, says they need someone to work, it's hard to say no in that situation," Clemens said. "At 8 or 9 a.m., I thought it was off, because I didn't know if I'd be able to get here."
With his foot to the floor, Clemens made it to College Station with no time to spare, piled the family on the plane and left for the Windy City. How fast was he driving?
"Fast," Clemens said without hesitation. "About as fast as I'll hopefully throw tonight."
This is the ninth All-Star selection for Clemens, who turns 41 on Aug. 4, and his second as a member of the New York Yankees. Clemens has represented the Boston Red Sox five times and the Toronto Blue Jays twice. His first All-Star Game was in 1986 at the Astrodome in Houston, in which he started for the AL and captured the game's MVP award.
"I was very blessed to have my first one in my hometown of Houston, I pitched well, won the [MVP] award, and it doesn't get much better than that," Clemens said. "I'll enjoy this just as much."
Clemens, who is planning to retire at the end of the season, has pitched in all but one of his eight previous Midsummer Classics, going 1-0 with a 2.70 ERA.
"This is my last All-Star Game and my last year," Clemens said. "I'm going to try to enjoy it as much as I can, but I have to be ready to perform. I hope my family enjoys it, because this was their decision."
Mark Feinsand is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.