The Rocket That Fell to Earth: Roger Clemens and the Rage for Baseball Immortality
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A fearless, hard-nosed Texan with a 98-mph fastball and a propensity to throw at the heads of opposing hitters, Roger “the Rocket” Clemens won 354 games, an unprecedented seven Cy Young Awards, and two World Series trophies over the course of twenty-four seasons. But the statistics and hoopla obscured a far darker story—one of playoff chokes, womanizing (including a long-term affair with a teenage country singer), violent explosions, steroid and human growth hormone use...and an especially dark secret that Clemens spent a lifetime trying to hide: a family tragedy involving drugs and, ultimately, death.
In The Rocket That Fell to Earth, New York Times bestselling author Jeff Pearlman reconstructs the pitcher's life—from his Ohio childhood to the mounds of Fenway Park and Yankee Stadium—to reveal a flawed and troubled man whose rage for baseball immortality took him to superhuman heights before he crashed down to earth.
on 60 Minutes with Mike Wallace, who did little to hide his unabashed love of the Rocket. Despite the fact that Wallace tossed out repeated softballs, Clemens came off as confused, ornery, awkward, simple—and deceitful. “If I have these needles and these steroids and all these drugs, where did I get them?” he said in one of many non sequiturs. “Where is the person out there [who] gave them to me? Please come forward…. Why didn’t I keep doing it if it was so good for me? Why didn’t I break down?
spots peeking through. A rectangular pool surrounded by garage sale–quality furniture. Above each apartment door was an old plastic light emitting a glow that had the brownish tint of a smoker’s front teeth. When no one answered, the reporter knocked again, a bit louder. This time, the door opened. There, at long last, stood the ghost. He was approximately 5-foot-10 and 180 pounds. He had a blue tattoo on one of his wrists, and his skin was badly weathered, much like that of an old seaman. He
there.” To no one’s surprise, Clemens was pounded for four runs in two-thirds of an inning. The Cougars won, 4-3. “Coach probably thought Roger at 82 mph was better than most people at 92 mph,” says another Longhorn. “But it wasn’t right. Roger wasn’t one to take it easy or to ask out of a situation. He tried his best, but he really could have done damage to himself. It was bullshit.” Teammates never forgot Clemens’ effort that day. It was, in many ways, the personification of Randy’s lifelong
hit a roller toward first baseman Bill Buckner, who fielded the ball cleanly and tossed it to Clemens. Though not especially swift, Baines nearly outpaced Clemens to the bag. Nearly. The video replay showed Clemens’ foot beating Baines. The reaction of Boston players showed Clemens’ foot beating Baines. But Greg Kosc, the first-base umpire, ruled that Clemens had missed the bag. Instead of the Red Sox recording the third out, Chicago’s John Cangelosi scored the go-ahead run. Over the next six
donned a Toronto uniform and threw to Blaine Fortin, a minor league catcher who had flown the two and a half hours from his home in Lundar, Manitoba. “That’s probably the highlight of my career,” says Fortin, who never played beyond Double A. “Early the next morning I was getting phone calls in my hotel room from radio stations. They couldn’t find him, so I was next in line.” Upon reporting early for spring training at the Blue Jays’ complex in Dunedin, Florida, Clemens felt as if he had entered