Roger Clemens continues to climb toward induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame, getting named by 54.1 percent of voters this year, his fifth on the ballot, en route to the 75 percent he needs.
But the seven-time Cy Young Award winner believes the “luster would not be the same” after being made to wait this long as a cloud of suspicion hangs over his career because of alleged use of performance-enhancing drugs.
In fact, Clemens came close to saying he would not even want to go in if elected before being talked out of that position by Joe Buck during a nearly hour-long chat for Buck’s interview show, “Undeniable.”
“I can’t control it one bit,” Clemens said when asked if being kept out of the Hall this long bothers him. “I have zero control over that . . . I didn’t play the game of baseball to make the Hall of Fame. The Hall of Fame’s not going to define my career. I love it that the guys go in and they’re a fraternity and whatever. But that’s what I did, it’s not who I am.
“That guy out there [on the mound], that was my job. I worked extremely hard at it. I took pride in it. I did it the right way. I respected it.”
Clemens appears on the third-season finale of Buck’s show, which premieres at 8 p.m. Wednesday on AT&T Audience Network on DirecTV and U-Verse.
Buck suggested to Clemens that as a practical matter, given the uncertainty over which players did or did not use PEDs, perhaps every deserving player from that era should be allowed into the Hall or no one from that era should be taken.
“I agree,” Clemens said. “I think if you’re a Hall of Famer, you go in on the first ballot and it’s all good. You’re either a Hall of Famer or you’re not. You’re not going to win any more games and you’re not going to hit any more home runs. But like I said, I’m to the point right now where — I mean, I say it, I probably don’t mean it — but . . . the joy of it’s gone.”
Buck then said, “Don’t say you don’t want to go in. Don’t.”
Said Clemens, “I’m not going to say that, but I’m just going to tell you, the luster will — I’m not worried about it — but the luster would not be the same. It’s like you’re doing me a favor all of a sudden. Don’t do me any favors, really. If you feel like it, do it, but don’t do me any favors.”
Earlier in the interview, Clemens called the actions of George Mitchell, who was behind the Mitchell Report that examined PED use in baseball, “shameful” and refused to utter the name of his former trainer — and accuser — Brian McNamee.
“I don’t even want to mention his name because it makes me sick to my stomach,” he said.
Later, he added, “What I know now is I should have set my wallet on the table, because that’s all it was, was about money.”