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Last week the Red Sox announced that Pedro Martinez, Roger Clemens, Nomar Garciaparra and Joe Castiglione would be inducted into the Red Sox Hall of Fame this August. This star-studded class has a pitcher who had one of the most dominant stretches in baseball history when Pedro Martinez went 101-28 with a combined 2.54 ERA in his first six seasons in Boston. Along with him is teammate Nomar Garciaparra, who was one of the most beloved athletes on the exciting late-90s Red Sox teams. Joe Castiglione has been calling Red Sox games on the radio for over 30 years now and is a deserving inductee. Then, there is Roger Clemens. He used to be Boston’s favorite son but now is seen as a pariah to many. What exactly is Roger Clemens’ Boston legacy?
There are two people who hold the record for most wins (192) in a Red Sox uniform. The first one, Cy Young, was so good they named an award after him. The second is Roger Clemens, who has won the Cy Young 7 times, including three times in Boston, as well as, an MVP in 1986. Along with the most wins in Red Sox history, he holds the record for most strikeouts (2,590) and is tied with Cy Young for shutouts (38). He set the Major League record with 20 strikeouts in a Major League game on April 29, 1986 against the Seattle Mariners and then tied that record in his third-to-last game with the Red Sox on September 18, 1996 against the Detroit Tigers. The Red Sox front office clearly understands what place he holds in Red Sox history as his number 21 has not be worn since he left the team after the 1996 season.
His fiery passion was embraced by the Boston faithful and it seemed that The Rocket was destined to be one of the best pitchers in baseball history and that his legacy in Boston was firmly cemented. Even after a few middling seasons in the early 90s no one could see Clemens in any other uniform than Boston’s. That was until Dan Duquette claimed he was “in the twilight of his career.”
He left after 1996 when his career seemed to be on a downward path. He went on to win two straight Cy Young awards in Toronto and was then traded to the New York Yankees. In New York he won yet another Cy Young award and finally grasped that elusive World Series Championship ring (and then another for good measure). He left New York for Houston, where he won his 7th and final Cy Young and guided the Astros to their first World Series appearance. After one more mediocre stint in New York, Clemens retired after 2007 with what seemed to be a Hall of Fame career.
Then came the Mitchell Report, which accused Clemens of using anabolic steroids in the latter part of his career. This coupled with the fact that he won two championships with New York and chose New York over Boston in a comeback attempt in 2007 has made Clemens’ Boston Legacy a murky one.
There is no denying that Clemens is not held in the same light he was 15 years ago, but Clemens deserves to be in the Red Sox Hall of Fame. His accomplishments in Boston were nothing short of spectacular and he should be rewarded for them. It may be helpful that Clemens is in the same class with Pedro Martinez. Martinez is clearly the more favored of the two and should get most of the attention come August and this may help Clemens escape some scrutiny. Like him or not, Clemens is an integral part of Red Sox history and is more than deserving of his induction to the Red Sox Hall of Fame, and hopefully one day Cooperstown.