Baseball Hall of Fame voters will soon decide whether Roger Clemens is worthy of a first ballot induction, but according to the former pitcher’s lawyer, the seven-time Cy Young award isn’t spending too much time worrying about it.
“Those of us around Roger the last almost five years feel much more strongly about it, quite frankly than he does,” Clemens’ lawyer Rusty Hardin told the Jeff Blair Show on Sportsnet 590 The Fan Wednesday. “I’ve never heard him talk one single time about how important it was to him.”
Members of the Baseball Writers Association of America will cast their votes before the end of the year and the results will be announced in January.
Clemens was prosecuted for perjury in 2010 after a grand jury indicted him on charges of making false statements to Congress about his alleged use of performance-enhancing drugs.
Although Clemens never failed a drug test throughout his 24-year career, it left doubts in the minds of many about his past. Hardin explained that it is far more important for Clemens to get his reputation back.
“He’s not driven by the Hall of Fame,” he explained. “What really drove him was to be considered the best. And it wasn’t therefore to then have that confirmed by the Hall of Fame. … If Roger’s not voted in, he’ll shake his head and say ‘that’s the way it goes.’”
The 50-year-old Clemens pitched for the Boston Red Sox, Toronto Blue Jays, New York Yankees and Houston Astros and retired with a record of 354-184, an ERA of 3.12 and two World Series titles.
“He would have made it if he had never had come to Toronto, if he’d have quite when he left Boston,” Hardin said of the Hall of Fame. “If you look at those numbers, there’s no way he wouldn’t have gotten into the Hall of Fame then. Same things after he leaves Toronto. Two Cy Youngs in Toronto, triple crown, and unbelievable performance when he’s there. Then he goes to the Yankees, retires in ’03, comes back in ’04 and wins the Cy Young Award in ’04.”
Hardin said that Clemens’ phenomenal pitching fundamentals and incredible work ethic led to his success and added that steroids and human growth hormones don’t improve technique.
“What he had was consistency and if (Hall of Fame) voters would go back and review some of the testimony, if you look at that, you go, ‘there’s no way this guy doesn’t deserve to be in the Hall of Fame.’”
There was talk earlier this year that Clemens, who hadn’t pitched professionally since 2007, was planning a return to the majors, but Hardin never believed it would happen.
“What happened was he was interested in doing it for the Astros toward the end of the season as he did in the minor league thing (Clemens pitched a couple games for the Sugar Land Skeeters of the Atlantic League of Professional Baseball in the summer) just to get fans in the stands and to have some fun. That’s why he did the minor league things; he did it as a favour to that team’s manager who had been a coach for the Astros and he did it and filled up the ballpark.
“What ended up happening is Roger doesn’t want to embarrass himself. He didn’t think he was in the kind of shape to do it, to operate at the level he would be comfortable with.”
Hardin added Clemens believes taking steroids is akin to cheating.
“Roger Clemens was prosecuted because he refused to take the fifth (amendment). He knew he could have taken the fifth before congress and none of this would happen, but his whole point was ‘if I do that then everybody will believe I did it and I can’t let my four boys think I cheated.’
“That’s what steroids is, it’s cheating. He’s never denied it’s a wrong thing. … We prosecuted a guy for denying he committed a crime and that’s just unheard of.”