Bess Clemens once told her son that if she could drive two and a half hours to see him play at the University of Texas she could certainly drive two and a half hours to see him play in Houston.
It seemed only death could shake her dedication to her son’s work. Sadly, it did.
Early Wednesday morning Bess Clemens lost her strenuous battle with emphysema in Georgetown, Texas. She was only 75.
“I get my determination from her,” said Roger Clemens, pitcher for the Houston Astros. She told me to go to work.”
The Rocket carried out his mother’s dying wish that evening, giving a stellar performance against the Florida Marlins Wednesday night.
With a heavy heart, Clemens struggled early in the first inning surrendering two-four pitch walks, including one to leadoff hitter Luis Castillo who would later score on a grounder by Miguel Cabrera.
“As soon as I climbed on the mound, I was lost a bit,” Clemens said.
“I knew I had to gather it up pretty quick and get through that.”
He did just that. The Marlins failed to score against Clemens as he retired 17 of 19 batters, allowing only a pair of singles before Damion Easley and Juan Pierre hit consecutive one-out singles in the top of the seventh.
Clemens (12-7) finished with 6 and 1/3 innings pitched, 1 earned run and 4 strikeouts. The seven-time Cy Young Award winner also lowered his league leading ERA (Earned Run Average) to 1.77. With the 10-2 victory, the Astros are back in the playoff hunt sitting only a game behind the NL Wild Card leading Marlins.
Last year upon contemplating retirement Roger Clemens said he didn’t want to deliver a speech in Cooperstown with two empty chairs beside him.
“I wanted her to hang on so I could thank her properly at the Hall of Fame,” said the Ohio native.
With the death of his step-father early in his life and now the passing of his beloved mother, Clemens, who is 43, is now faced with the inevitability of delivering an induction speech without the presence of either of his parents.
Clemens, who spent his mother’s final night with her, said she behaved in typical fashion displaying no fear of dying.
Despite her ongoing battle with emphysema, Ms. Clemens was determined to support her little boy. After surviving a fight with pneumonia and equipped with a breathing tube around her face, Bess Clemens attended Yankee Stadium in her son’s attempt to capture his 300th career win against division rivals Boston Red Sox.
However, Clemens’ mother never saw the feat materialize as she unable to attend his 300th career victory against St. Louis 2 weeks later.
Following the conclusion of the Astros-Marlins game, Clemens received a standing ovation as images of him and his dear mother flooded the giant video screen.
Tearfully watching in the clubhouse, Clemens said, “It was great to see her look so pretty like I remember. She just loved the game of baseball.”
It is perhaps the hardest accomplishment to perform at a high level, even in the wake of death.
The realization of never feeling one more hug, kiss, or smile from your adored hero would consume our very thoughts.
Surely Roger Clemens would have wanted to say a million things before his mother passed. He would have wanted to tell her he loved her one more time. But he didn’t have to.
His pitching spoke volumes. Wednesday night, as Clemens stood upon that mound he was saying “This one’s for you mom. This one’s for you.”
The Associated Press contributed to this article.