Elder Clemens still tough to take out of the ballpark
Posted: Friday, July 2, 2010 5:55 am
By JAIME ARON
AP Sports Writer
MIDLAND, Texas (AP) — Roger Clemens fired a pitch low and away, then watched it go flying down the right-field line.
It twisted foul — and he couldn’t have been more disappointed.
The ball was hit by his son, Koby, on his first swing in the Texas League Home Run Derby. It turned out to be as close as the kid came to taking his old man deep.
Koby was part of the majority in that respect. Five of the other seven hitters also took 0-fers, mainly because of a stiff wind blowing straight in from left field. The Rocket did his part to help, keeping his heater in the lukewarm range of 60 to 65 mph and trying to put the ball wherever batters wanted.
“They asked for them outside,” Roger Clemens said. “That’s the only thing I gave them. It’s a little more difficult than it looks.”
Matt Clark of the San Antonio Missions got to the finals by hitting just one homer. He won the event with three more. Clemens said his aim might’ve been off because he was pitching from the front of the mound.
“I think if they’d let me scoot back to 60 feet, I’d have been a little better,” he said. “I think the guys had fun. I didn’t throw too many cutters on ’em. It was fun for me to be out here. Of course, it’s a double bonus for me being a dad and seeing Koby out here.”
Koby is a 23-year-old first baseman for the Corpus Christi Hooks, who made the All-Star game by being second in homers and RBIs. When it seemed likely that he would be part of this event, his dad volunteered to take part — even though he also was playing in a charity golf tournament at Pebble Beach.
Roger played his round Wednesday morning, then flew in for the afternoon event. He planned to fly back right after the game.
Roger showed up on the field in a white, No. 21 South All-Star uniform, just like Koby’s. The entire North squad stood in front of the dugout watching his every move.
When Koby and several other Derby hitters went to greet Roger at home plate, he smiled wide at his son. Then they went through what looked like a practiced routine: fake handshake, fake fist bump, then a dismissive wave.
Koby went back into the dugout while Roger threw to his catcher. Just before the first hitter stepped in, Koby popped onto the field and seemed to try psyching himself up.
Speaking, he said: “Just one. That’s all I need to do — one! No shutout. Gotta get it out. Might have to go opposite field, but I’ve gotta do what I’ve gotta do.”
Batters were out after six non-homer swings. It took 10 swings before there was a homer. The last 25 swings all produced outs.
Koby took almost as many pitches as he hit. Two of his hits went up the middle, forcing Roger to duck. The last swing was high and deep, and both turned to watch. The wind made sure it didn’t get out.
“I probably kept it too low,” Roger said.
Koby is the youngest of four boys — all their names start with K, as in the scorer’s code for strikeout — and the others were here, too, along with their mom, several aunts and uncles and a grandmother.
Published in The Messenger 7.1.10