This article was revealed in the May 12, 1986, challenge of The Sporting News.
A Record for the Rocket
By Joe Giuliotti
Eight months after present process shoulder surgical procedure, Roger Clemens, the 23-year-old Boston Red Sox righthander, rocketed into the file books April 29 by putting out 20 batters in a 3-1 victory over the Seattle Mariners.
Clemens’ fastball shot via the Fenway Park night time like a bullet, clocked at speeds of 96 to 98 miles per hour, and his breaking ball was sharp as he grew to become baseball’s nine-inning strikeout king.
In the 111th season of main league baseball, a pitcher lastly arrived who might fan 20 batters in 9 innings. Clemens disposed Nolan Ryan (Angels, 1974), Tom Seaver (Mets, 1970), Steve Carlton (Cardinals, 1969) and Charles Sweeney (Providence, 1884), all of whom had fanned 19. Tom Cheney of the Washington Senators had 21 strikeouts in a 1962 recreation, however he pitched 16 innings.
Last August 30, Clemens was in the working room at the Hughston Sports Medicine Hospital in Columbus, Ga., as Dr. James Andrews carried out arthroscopic surgical procedure for removing of a small piece of cartilage from Clemens’ proper shoulder. The pitcher had gone on the disabled listing twice in 1985, the final time on August 21 — when his season ended.
That aching shoulder of ’85 was lengthy forgotten and the crowd of 13,414 at Fenway Park was on its ft as Clemens, nicknamed The Rocket, rifled a 97-mph fastball previous Phil Bradley and into the mitt of Boston catcher Rich Gedman for the second out in the ninth inning, and strikeout No. 20. Clemens had opened the ninth along with his nineteenth strikeout, victimizing Seattle shortstop Spike Owen, his former University of Texas teammate.
In virtually each historic efficiency, a break performs a serious position. For Clemens, pitching in simply his fortieth recreation in the main leagues, that stroke of luck got here in the fourth inning.
Designated hitter Gorman Thomas, who would homer in the seventh for the solely run off Clemens, lofted a routine pop foul on a 2-and-2 rely that Don Baylor settled below and dropped. Baylor, usually the Boston DH, had switched positions with first baseman Bill Buckner as a result of Buckner had an elbow damage. Two pitches after Baylor’s error, Thomas was referred to as out on strikes.
Clemens threw 138 pitches, 97 of them fastballs, and did not stroll a batter. From the fourth to the sixth innings, he tied an American League file, shared by Ryan and Minnesota reliever Ron Davis, by putting out eight in a row. He had no less than one strikeout in each inning and struck out the aspect in the first, fourth and fifth.
Each batter in Seattle’s beginning order fanned no less than as soon as, with Bradley a four-time sufferer. Eight batters took referred to as third strikes. In the fifth inning, when Clemens struck out the aspect, every third strike was referred to as. Clemens had six 3-and-2 counts in the first 4 innings, then no three-ball counts the relaxation of the recreation.
“I’ve seen perfect games by Catfish Hunter and Mike Witt and I’ve seen some great games pitched by Seaver,” mentioned Red Sox supervisor John McNamara. “But I’ve never seen a pitching performance as awesome as that, and I don’t think you will again in the history of baseball.”
Clemens was unaware that he was near a file till Red Sox pitcher Al Nipper informed him so in the dugout as the Red Sox batted in the backside of the eighth.
“He said, ‘Rockey, you have a chance for the all-time record. Go for it with gusto,'” Clemens mentioned. “I was tired, but when I made the decision to play this game, I said I was going to give it everything I had.
“The ninth inning was all adrenaline. I used to be simply out there throwing.”
Twenty-four hours after his gem, Clemens still had no explanation. “It’s nice. It’s unbelievable,” he said. “It’s spectacular and every part else that goes with it, and I thank the man in the sky for what I did. He was behind me via rather a lot of laborious work.
“Records are made to be broken and I broke one. But you never know, somebody might come along and get this one. Or maybe one day I’ll be fortunate enough that I’ll have the same kind of stuff and go out there and maybe get a couple more.”
Thanks to a rainout in Kansas City and a time without work, Clemens had six days of relaxation earlier than he confronted Seattle. In addition to the 20 batters he struck out, he had two-strike, no-ball counts on Owen and Jim Presley in the fourth inning, however Owen singled and Presley grounded out. Only Owen on his single to proper and Thomas, who lined out to left in the second inning, pulled the ball towards Clemens. Thomas’ homer was to middle discipline and Danny Tartabull’s eighth-inning single went to right-center.
“I almost had tears in my eyes,” mentioned Bill Fischer, 55-year-old Red Sox pitching coach. “It was the best game I ever saw pitched. The second-best was by Jim Bunning, when he pitched a no-hitter for Detroit against the Red Sox in 1958.”
Umpire Vic Voltaggio mentioned he was unaware most of the recreation that Clemens was on a file strikeout tempo. “All I knew was that I was working the best pitching performance I’d ever seen,” the umpire mentioned. (*20*)
Gedman set an American League file for catchers along with his 20 putouts and tied the main league mark of 20, set by the Mets’ Jerry Grote in 1970 in the recreation in which Seaver struck out 19 San Diego batters.
“Rocket was unhittable,” mentioned Gedman. “The thing that amazed me the most was that they had so many swings and weren’t even able to foul the ball. It wasn’t like he was trying to paint the corners or anything. He was challenging them and they weren’t able to get a bat on the ball.”
Boston’s Dwight Evans hit a three-run homer off Mike Moore in the backside of the seventh to provide Clemens the victory. That wiped out the 1-0 lead Thomas had offered along with his homer.
“Anything you say is an understatement,” mentioned Thomas. “Clemens was overbearing. I think we should all be happy we were here. We’ll never see that again.”
Clemens broke the Red Sox strikeout file of 17, set by Bill Monbouquette in 1961, when he acquired Dave Henderson in the eighth inning. Clemens’ eight straight strikeouts erased the membership file of six, shared by Buck O’Brien (1913) and Ray Culp (1970).
The Hall of Fame requested for the glove, spikes and cap Clemens wore, in addition to the ball he threw previous Bradley for strikeout No. 20.
“I’m in the Hall of Fame,” mentioned the star-struck pitcher. “That’s something nobody can take away from me.”