He arrived at Fenway Park in 1984 with more fanfare than any Red Sox pitching prospect in their history; and within two years he showed why with a Koufaxian season in 1986 which saw him go 24-4 and win both the Cy Young and MVP Awards! Armed with the red glare of a blazing fastball, Roger Clemens became the first pitcher to strikeout 20 batters in a nine inning game and garnered the nickname “The Rocket”. The baseball world belonged to him.
Riding the crest of greatness, Clemens won three Cy Young Awards in six years and finished 2nd and 3rd in two other years. Established as the best pitcher in the American League, he signed a five-year contract in 1991 that made him among the highest paid players in the game. The last four seasons of that deal, however, found him a very mediocre 40-39. As contract time approached the “Rocket” incurred the wrath of the Boston press and was hearing new nicknames like, the “Texas Con Man”. Even Red Sox General Manager Dan Duquette wondered openly if Clemens was on “the downside” of his career.
Despite it all, Roger proclaimed his desire to stay in Boston and help the team and the city capture a World Series championship which had eluded them since 1918. And, he vowed he would never leave Boston for anyplace other than home, which was Texas. On December 13, 1996 “The Rocket” waved bye-bye to Boston and signed a contract with the Toronto Blue Jays. Toronto is close to Texas in that they both begin with the letter “T”. And, there he met a trainer named Brian McNamee.
On December 13, 2000 Dan Duquette called everybody to Fenway to meet this man. He is Manny Ramirez and the Red Sox signed him to an eight year $160,000,000 contract. Manny could hit the ball very far and very often and in fact some people were calling him the greatest right-handed hitter of all time. He hit bombs that burst in the Fenway night and everybody loved him. He developed a couple of nicknames as well, ManRam was one of them.
Manny got a little quirky, grew his hair real long, liked his uniform to look like pajamas BUT, he actually played a big part in doing what Roger said he wanted to do, bring a World Series championship to Boston. In fact Manny was the MVP of the 2004 World Series! Along the way Manny developed a new nickname which was “Manny Being Manny”. That translates to, sometimes Manny is a real pain in the ass but he’s so damn good, what can we do. It all worked and in 2007 the Red Sox won the World Series again! However, during the 2008 season, “Manny Being Manny” just didn’t seem to be worth it anymore and the Red Sox said bye-bye to Manny and off to La La Land he went to play for the Dodgers.
Now this is where it gets real interesting. Clemens, after leaving Boston, was born again and went on to have some monster years. I mean MONSTER years. He won four more Cy Young Awards and was now being bandied about as possibly the greatest pitcher of all time, imagine that!
Then this whole steroid mess started to grow bigger and bigger and lo and behold Brian McNamee (remember, the trainer Roger met in Toronto) suggested that one of the reasons Roger might have done so well is because he was, very often, sticking a needle in his tushy that was filled with anabolic steroids. Then “Manny Being Manny” turned into Manny doing roids and he tested positive not once but TWICE! Imagine that!
On December 13, 2007 the “Mitchell Report” was released naming 89 players who allegedly used illegal performance enhancing drugs. Roger Clemens was one of them.
And so it was on this date in Fenway Park history, December 13th 1996, 2000 and 2007.