There were quite a few factors that led to Roger Clemens' signing with the Sugar Land Skeeters, and his eventual arrival in York.
Before news broke of the signing, the Skeeters had to figure out when Clemens would make his first start for the club. Once that was put in place, Sugar Land had to bring extra personnel on board to deal with the media onslaught that comes with signing a seven-time Cy Young Award winner.
All the while, Skeeters' president Matt O'Brien said everyone involved kept one more thing in mind.
"We thought it'd be great to have him join the club somewhere else," said O'Brien, who held a similar position with York before joining Sugar Land. "We thought it would send a really nice message. And
Thus, Roger Clemens arrived in York on Monday. And after a few days of hype, the reality of him tossing a bullpen session before Tuesday's game came to fruition.
Clemens came out to the field at Sovereign Bank Stadium around 4:40 p.m. and warmed up in the outfield before strolling onto the baseball diamond at 5:03 p.m. to take the mound for what turned out to be an 18-minute, 47-pitch session in front of roughly 1,000 fans. The 50-year-old right-hander topped out at 84 mph on his final pitch to one of his four sons, Koby, who was behind the dish for the session. Clemens stayed around for another 15 minutes to sign autographs for fans. An announced attendance of 3,394 fans showed up for the game.
Koby: The 25-year-old Koby Clemens recently finished playing for the Toronto Blue Jays' Class AA affiliate New Hampshire and was in town to spend the night with his dad.
While Koby's appearance may have appeared insignificant, his dad may not have come to the Atlantic League if wasn't for him.
"As I was texting Koby it crossed my mind," Skeeters' skipper Gary Gaetti said of a text message he sent in February when he was interested in signing Koby. "I'm just gonna go ahead and say to Roger, 'I'm offering you a contract right now. No kidding.'"
Clemens: Clemens entertained a group of sponsors, Opening Day Partners' officials and Skeeters' officials at a luncheon Tuesday before holding a 22-minute news conference with the media.
One of the Skeeters' officials present was the club's senior adviser, Tal Smith, who said he thinks Clemens has what it takes to make it back to the majors.
"If he (Clemens) continues to pitch the way he has been, I wouldn't be surprised if he was signed," Smith said. "He's got a good splitter and a good slider. What really makes him successful is his command and baseball acumen."
However, Clemens downplayed any chance of a return to the big leagues -- either this season or next -- during the news conference at the White Rose Hall inside the stadium.
"It's been mentioned and I've heard people mention it but I'm nowhere close to being ready to pitch in a major league game," Clemens said.
Ownership, HOF: Clemens also touched on many other topics, including his chances of being inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame. He'll be on the ballot for the first time in December.
"I'm not going to go around shaking guys hands and tell them I'm a Hall of Famer," he said. "My numbers are my numbers. If they (Hall of Fame voters) feel I'm deserving or not I don't really have any control over it."
He also said he'd be interested in possibly owning an Atlantic League club in the near future while chatting with local newspaper reporters in Gaetti's office before he left for his throwing session.
"I've got ownership in two minor league teams already. I enjoy doing that," he said. "I like the way clubs are run. Sugar Land, in the short period of time I've been around, they run it as well as any minor league team that I've seen. So, if it's somewhere around home that I can be accessible to, I sure would (think about it)."
In addition, the Houston native shared his thoughts on how the last several months have been on him, dealing with the trial of charges he lied to Congress when he denied using performance-enhancing drugs. Clemens was acquitted in June.
"It was great. We finally got in a fair setting," Clemens said. "We don't have time now to write a book on our lives. But we'll write about it and tell it how it is and tell some really interesting things that people never picked up on."
For now, though, Clemens is just focusing on his next scheduled start on Friday in Sugar Land against the Long Island Ducks. He'll try to improve on his last outing Aug. 25, when he held Bridgeport scoreless in 31/3 innings of work.
-- Reach John Walk at firstname.lastname@example.org.