Roger Clemens went out in style in 2003. After announcing that he would be retiring earlier in the year, Clemens went out and earned both his 300th career win and 4,000th career strikeout. His farewell tour also included warm receptions from rival crowds, including the faithful at Fenway Park. Clemens even got to make his final start in the World Series, notch a strikeout in his final at-bat, and receive a standing ovation from the Marlins’ crowd as he walked off.
Everyone wants to leave on a high note, but that’s easier said than done. In 2004, Clemens inked a one-year deal to join up with the Astros. In 2005, Clemens once again toyed with the idea of retirement, but was coerced to return to Houston with a one-year, $18MM deal. After yet another World Series appearance, that was believed to be the end of the road for Clemens.
On this date in 2006, Clemens signed a deal to pitch for the Astros for the remainder of the season. The pact was technically a record-setting one-year, $22MM deal, but because it was a prorated contract, Clemens received a little over half of that. Even in his age 43 season, Clemens showed that he had plenty in the tank. In 19 starts, the veteran pitched to a 2.30 ERA with 8.1 K/9 and 2.3 BB/9. Had he pitched that way starting in April, there’s little doubt that the right-hander would have earned his fourth consecutive All-Star appearance.
Of course, this wasn’t Clemens’ final comeback. In 2007, the Rocket showed up in George Steinbrenner’s box at Yankee Stadium to let everyone know that he’d be joining the Bombers. “Thank y’all,” Clemens said to the Bronx crowd. “Well they came and got me out of Texas, and I can tell you its a privilege to be back. I’ll be talkin’ to y’all soon.” Clemens would reemerge with the Sugar Land Skeeters in 2012, but the ’07 season would mark his last in Major League Baseball.