The premier source of news and information in Central Massachusetts.
In print, online, mobile, and video.
The Rocket That Fell To Earth
by Jeff Pearlman
He was supposed to be the next Nolan Ryan: Roger Clemens, the fearless,
hard-nosed Texan with a 98-mph fastball and a propensity to throw at
the heads of opposing hitters. Yet shortly after his arrival in the
major leagues in 1984, it became apparent that the Ryan comparisons
were simply unfair—Roger Clemens was significantly better.
Over 24 seasons, the Rocket would go on to win 354 games, an
unprecedented seven Cy Young Awards and two World Series trophies. In
1986 he set the major league record with 20 strikeouts in a nine-inning
game, then matched it a decade later. He would be routinely praised for
representing the game in a just and righteous manner—a living,
breathing example of the power of determination and hard work. "Roger
Clemens," a teammate once said, "is an American hero."
But the statistics and hoopla obscure a far darker story. Along with
myriad playoff chokes, womanizing (including a 10-year affair with
then-teenage country singer Mindy McCready), a violent streak (most
famously triggered by former Mets star Mike Piazza) and his use of
steroids and human growth hormones, Clemens has spent years trying to
hide his darkest secret—a family tragedy involving drugs and,