At an age in which most power pitchers have either flamed out with the infamous rotator cuff injury or learned another out pitch — the curve, the slider or, for the most desperate, the knuckler — Roger Clemens, aka The Rocket, continues to throw heat and nothing but heat. Last season (his 18th), the 39-year-old won an unprecedented sixth Cy Young Award for anchoring baseball’s premier pitching staff and catapulting the New York Yankees into the Fall Classic for the third consecutive season.
AW: Coming two outs from winning the whole thing must have been a great motivator as you prepared for this season.
RC: Actually, I don’t need anything to get me motivated for the season. I was brought up by my mother and grandmother [Clemens’ father died when he was a boy] with a great work ethic, and I’ve never taken my talent for granted, thanks to them. I’m in better shape now than I’ve ever been in my career.
AW: What are some of your most cherished moments to this point?
RC: Playing in Tiger Stadium and Old Comiskey Park were great moments. And, of course, pitching in Fenway Park was very special. Getting to face a guy like Reggie Jackson was a thrill. I remember power hitters like Reggie or Cecil Fielder or Mark McGwire coming up to me and giving me a hard time about how my fastball seemed to have a little extra on it just for them. Of course it did. I always save my best for the best.
AW: What’s left for The Rocket?
RC: Another ring, for one thing. Another Cy Young wouldn’t be bad, either. When I came into this league I quickly figured out that I could turn this into something special for me and give my family financial security for a very long time. When my boys ask me what I did in baseball, I know I can take them to Cooperstown [the home of baseball’s Hall of Fame] and simply say, “Check this out.”