NEW YORK -- The seventh-inning stretch was ending when the
low, familiar voice of public-address announcer Bob Sheppard told
fans at Yankee Stadium to direct their attention to the owner's box
behind home plate.
Standing there, microphone in hand, was Roger Clemens to
personally announce his return to New York.
"Well, they came and got me out of Texas, and I can tell you
it's a privilege to be back," he said. "I'll be talking to y'all
With his brief address, shown on the right-center field
videoboard to 52,553 fans and many more watching on television, the
Rocket re-joined the Yankees in most dramatic fashion.
He agreed to a one-year contract for $28,000,022 -- the last two
digits matching his uniform number -- that will start
when he is added to the major league roster for his first start,
most likely in three to four weeks. Clemens will earn about $18.5
million under the deal, which will cost the Yankees approximately
$7.4 million in additional luxury tax, meaning they are investing
about $26 million in a seven-time Cy Young Award winner who will
turn 45 in August.
"Roger Clemens is a winner and a champion, and he is someone
who can be counted on to help make this season one that all Yankees
fans can be proud of," owner George Steinbrenner said in a
statement. "The sole mission of this organization is to win a
Clemens helped the Yankees win World Series titles in 1999 and
2000, then left after the 2003 season intending to retire. But when
Andy Pettitte signed with the Houston Astros, Clemens also joined
their hometown team.
The Rocket retired again after the 2004 and 2005 seasons, only
to re-sign with the Astros both times. Pettitte changed the dynamic when
he rejoined New York this season.
Clemens had limited his field to the Yankees, Astros and Boston Red Sox, his original team. But when Clemens' agent, Randy
Hendricks, spoke to the Astros and Red Sox in recent days, they
said they'd prefer he join up with them in late June or early July.
According to Hendricks, the Yankees said: "We'd like you
"Make no mistake about it, I've come back to do what they only
know how to do here with the Yankees, and that's win a
championship," Clemens said. "Anything else is a failure, and I
Yankees manager Joe Torre had known for a couple of days that a
deal was in the works. Talks intensified Thursday, with general
manager Brian Cashman negotiating by BlackBerry with Hendricks, who
was at Fenway Park. Hendricks called Clemens on Friday, when the
pitcher was in Austin, Texas, and a deal was approved by New York
during a Friday late-afternoon conference call with Steinbrenner,
Cashman, team president Randy Levine and Steinbrenner's two sons.
The Red Sox issued a statement regarding their pursuit of Clemens.
"We met with Randy Hendricks earlier this week and, at Randy's request, made an offer to Roger Clemens," the statement read. "We offered a substantial salary and suggested, for health purposes, that Clemens return on approximately the same timetable as last year. Today we learned from Randy that Clemens has signed elsewhere."
On Sunday, Clemens got up in Houston at 5:30 a.m. and flew up to
New York. He arrived at LaGuardia Airport at about 1 p.m., changed
at a Manhattan hotel and arrived at the ballpark in the sixth
inning. He wore a Yankees cap and one of his Yankees World Series
rings during a postgame news conference, but he wasn't sure which one.
"It's nice to have a choice," he said.
After Clemens addressed the crowd, fans started chanting his
name in waves as more and more realized he had returned.
"It feels like coming back home," Clemens said. "You feel
like you're welcomed and you know what it's all about."
He begins with a minor league contract and will start his
workouts in Lexington, Ky., where his son Koby is playing in the Astros' farm system. He hopes to start pitching in minor
league games in about two weeks.
Clemens didn't even have a chance to tell Pettitte or other
friends about the deal in advance.
"I'm not looking forward to the phone call or seeing Andy here
shortly. He's going to be mad at me," Clemens said.
Clemens is eighth on the career wins list with 348 and second in
strikeouts with 4,604. He was 7-6 with a 2.30 ERA last season for
"The only time I'll be disappointed is if my body breaks down,
and I'm going to put the work and the time in to hopefully not
allow that to happen," he said. "I expect to perform like I was
25; that's my expectations. Anything short of that would be a
The Yankees, 14-15 and 5½ games behind AL East-leading Boston,
have seen so many pitchers get hurt that on Monday, they are set to become the first team in major league history to use 10 starters in
its first 30 games. The Yankees tried to persuade Clemens to join
them when he visited their spring training camp March 7.
"Make no mistake about it, the Yankees were in both of my ears
the whole time," Clemens said. "And that was well before they
even had the problems that they've had on the mound."
Clemens will have the same travel privileges he had with Houston
last year, when he sometimes skipped road trips if he wasn't
scheduled to pitch, spending time at home with his family and
working with Astros minor leaguers. Torre discussed the arrangement
with his veteran players before the Yankees agreed.
"If he'd like, I'd carry his bags out to the car," Jason Giambi joked.
Red Sox players were saddened to lose out on Clemens, but being
in first place cushioned the blow.
"It would have been nice to have him, but we didn't need him,"
Curt Schilling said. "I feel like we were a legitimate World
Series contender without him."
Houston catcher Brad Ausmus was disappointed.
"I would much rather have Andy Pettitte and Roger Clemens on
this team with us," he said. "They're big-game winning pitchers.
I loved playing with them."
Clemens, despite annual retirement announcements, shows few
signs of slowing down. He joked when a question was asked about the
length of the contract.
"That's what I'd like to know," he said. "I think I can go
right into senior softball."
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.