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Clemens gets his sixth Cy Young

The Yankee is the third-oldest winner and the first to win it with three teams.

© St. Petersburg Times,
published November 16, 2001

The first four were for his children: Koby, Kory, Kacy and Kody.

The fifth, upon their urging, was for himself.

But when Roger Clemens won his sixth Cy Young Award on Thursday, two more than anybody in history, he knew who deserved it most.

His mother.

"She's got one of those Cys now," Clemens said of his mother, Bess, who has emphysema. "My mother has been a big part of my life. She was extremely excited when I called her (Thursday)." Clemens, who went 20-3 with a 3.51 ERA during the regular season, received 21 of 28 first-place votes cast by members of the Baseball Writers Association of America.

Oakland's Mark Mulder was second, and Seattle's Freddy Garcia finished third.

"To me, it was just like hearing it for the first time," Clemens said. "My first one was really new to me. This one I take some of the memories and some of the history along with it." In addition to becoming the first player to win the Cy Young with three teams -- Boston 1986-87 and '91 and Toronto '97-98 -- Clemens, at 39 years, 3 months, also is the third-oldest to win. Early Wynn was 39 years, 10 months when he won in 1959 with the White Sox. Gaylord Perry was 40 years, 2 months when he won with the Padres in 1978.

"It's hard to believe I'm coming up on 40," said Clemens, who was 1-1 with a 2.36 ERA in five postseason starts.

"If you had asked me 10 years ago, I don't think I would have known I'd be able to be a power pitcher this deep in my career other than the fact that I've put the time in to do it."

Red Sox fans can either delight or commiserate over Clemens' third Cy Young since Boston general manager Dan Duquette allowed him to sign with Toronto after the 1996 season because he believed Clemens was "in the twilight of his career" after 13 seasons with the Red Sox.

"Everybody's gotten their mileage out of that comment," Clemens said. "I'm just happy that I was able to win one in the pinstripes."

Clemens, who moved to third on the all-time strikeout list with 213 last season, is a seventh 20-win season away from 300 victories.

He said reaching that mark would all but convince him to enter the Hall of Fame as a Yankee. "I'm still leaning on wearing the Yankee cap in," he said. "I'll end up sitting down with a lot of people after the fact and talking about it. There isn't a time that goes by when I see Reggie (Jackson) that Reggie puts his comment in. I hear quite a bit from him.

"Right now, obviously, if I can get 300 in a Yankee uniform ... the opportunity that (Yankees owner George) Steinbrenner gave me to come in and pitch in some awfully fun and exciting games has been a treat."

The Rays will figure prominently in Clemens' memories of a season in which he became the first pitcher to start a year 20-1.

Tampa Bay handed him two of his three losses, both in the final week of the regular season.

The Rays' second win, on Oct. 5, occurred in the first game at Yankee Stadium since the terrorist attacks Sept. 11.

That also was the night dozens of firefighters and police greeted Clemens outside the Yankees locker room before the game.

"I ran into all these officers, and they just embraced me and put their hands out," he said. "You looked into their eyes. It just kind of overwhelmed me right before that game at home. I had done everything to prepare myself for what might happen out on the field, but I wasn't prepared for that.

"I'll remember their comments and the way they looked at me in my uniform and how tightly they shook my hand or gave me a hug. That game was real special. I'll remember that week or 10 days the most."

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