BOSTON (CBS) –Roger Clemens says that during his 24-year career in Major League Baseball, he was never focused on getting into the Hall of Fame.
With 354 career wins and over 4,600 strikeouts, Clemens certainly has the resume of a first-ballot Hall of Famer, someone you wouldn’t think twice about checking off on a ballot. But enshrinement into Cooperstown has eluded the seven-time Cy Young winner for the last five years due to a tainted history with performance enhancing drugs. Voters have started to sway towards Clemens over the past few years, as he was on 53.8 percent of ballots in 2017, up from the 44.3 percent of votes he received in 2016 (75 percent of the votes is required for enshrinement).
Clemens was back in the Boston area over the weekend, tossing batting practice at Fenway Park on Saturday for some lucky raffle winners. He was honored at The Willowbend Country Club in Mashpee on Friday night for his work both on and off the diamond, and sat down with WBZ-TV’s Steve Burton in an interview that aired on Sunday night’s Sports Final OT.
Clemens said that he’s happy to be inching closer to enshrinement, but a spot in Cooperstown is not something that weighs on his mind very much these days.
“It’s not going to change me as a person either way; I could care less either way. It would be awesome and I’d have a lot of people to thank, but it’s not going to change me as a person,” Clemens told Burton. “I didn’t play the game that I loved to play to make the Hall of Fame. I never had my eyes set on that prize. To me, it’s a selfish place. There’s a lot of chest-beating.
“I have zero control over the Hall; all I could do was go out and have the best career I could have, and I went out and did that,” he added.
Clemens said when he first got drafted, his goal was to establish himself and get paid in order to set up his family. He recalls his mother working three jobs to support them, and helping her stock freezers so he could get the best glove and cleats.
“When the Red Sox came calling and drafted me, it was more money than we’d ever seen,” Clemens said of the $140,000 he received for his first MLB contract. “The first couple of years, that’s what I played for, to make a great living and set my family up for life. When I became established and knew I had staying power, it became about winning championships. That was the most important thing.”
Clemens said that he’s visited the Hall of Fame a number of times with his family and the staff has been wonderful to them every time they’ve gone. He’s also grateful to those who have voted for him over the last five years.
“I appreciate it and appreciate them looking at facts, if that’s what it is and they’re not holding a grudge,” he said.
Clemens, who was 45 years old when he retired, also discussed Tom Brady’s desire to play into his mid 40s:
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