Chron: Like father, like son

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  1. Rockets34Legend

    Rockets34Legend Contributing Member

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    http://www.chron.com/cs/CDA/ssistory.mpl/sports/3011498

    Roger, Koby Clemens have chance to share baseball spotlight

    By JOSE DE JESUS ORTIZ
    Copyright 2005 Houston Chronicle

    The similarities between Roger and Koby Clemens are almost impossible to miss. Big, broad shoulders. Rugged. And like his father before him, the son is headed to the University of Texas to play baseball.

    However, if you hang around Koby Clemens for a while, it's clear he isn't living in his father's shadow. He embraces and derives great pride in his father's success, but Roger and Debbie Clemens have taught him to be his own man.

    "The biggest compliment I get about the boys is that if you didn't know they were my kids, you wouldn't know it," said Roger Clemens, proud owner of seven Cy Young Awards and even prouder father of Koby, 18, Kory, Kacy and Kody. "They carry and handle themselves very well.

    "They see the work that I do. They're starting to push me around a little bit. To have him honored is going to be a treat for me."

    It's commonplace for Clemens to be honored at baseball banquets this time of year, and he will hit the circuit again tonight when he receives the Astros' 2004 Pitcher of the Year Award from the Houston chapter of the Baseball Writers Association of America during the 20th annual Houston Baseball Dinner.

    Koby Clemens also will attend as one of Greater Houston's top 16 high school seniors to be honored at the Hilton Americas Hotel ballroom.

    For the first time anybody can remember, an Astros player and his son will be honored separately at the Houston Baseball Dinner.

    "I'm just honored to be honored with these other 15 guys," said Koby, a third baseman who hit .413 with 23 RBIs and four home runs for Memorial High School last year. "It's pretty special."

    Perhaps nobody will be prouder tonight than Debbie Clemens, who was the steady presence in the Clemens household while her husband collected 310 of his 328 career victories through stops in Boston, Toronto and New York before playing his first season at home last year with the Astros.

    "My mom's been there for all 18 years of my life," Koby said. "She's been to every one of my games."

    Debbie Clemens, her mother Jan Wild, and brother Craig Godfrey have attended most of the Clemens children's baseball games.

    Wanting to catch the final two seasons of Koby's high school career, Roger planned to retire after the 2003 season. Astros owner Drayton McLane kept him out of retirement last year and again this year, but Clemens was allowed to stay at home to watch his kids play on days the team was out of town and he wasn't in line to pitch.

    Because of that arrangement, the future Hall of Famer saw what is currently Koby's most memorable moment as a player.

    With men on second and third in what would be a rain-shortened contest, Koby stepped to the plate against District 21-5A power Stratford. Memorial was charging back from a 6-1 deficit, and Koby's single drove in two runs to put the Mustangs ahead 7-6 en route to a 13-6 win. Koby recounts the story with the coolness of any veteran, but the boy in him comes out quickly when he describes what mattered most for him.

    "My dad was there wearing his big burnt orange pullover sweatshirt," Koby said. "Last year was awesome because he was home so much. It was almost like he was never out of town."

    Roger had been on a trip with the Astros, and he barely made it back in time to watch his son help hand Stratford its only district loss at home.

    "I landed, jumped in my car, sprinted to Stratford, got there," Clemens said. "He was at the plate. Of course, Deb was telling me that on the phone.

    "He got a game-winning hit, and he thought I was there the whole time. He pumped his fist at Dad, and I was able to pump it back. That makes my day complete. You talk about balancing it — that's balancing it."

    Debbie has carried the weight of balancing things for the family while Roger made his mark as arguably the greatest pitcher of his time. More than anybody, she knows what Koby and Roger have in common.

    "I think that Koby is extremely determined like his father, and he has a good work ethic," she said. "I think he got that driven determination from his father. He got from me his kindness. He's very caring. He always seems to do the right thing. He got his speed from his mama."

    Koby also is a better hitter than his father, though he would love to have hid dad's 1.000 batting average with the bases loaded (3-for-3).

    "For me, (being Roger Clemens' son) is really not that hard because nobody treats me as Roger Clemens," he said. "They treat me as Koby Clemens. They know me for my game on the field. They know me for hitting the ball more than for my dad."

    BEST OF HOUSTON BASEBALL

    • Astros Most Valuable Player: Lance Berkman, also won the award after the 2001 and 2002 seasons.

    • Astros Pitcher of the Year: Roger Clemens, who won his seventh Cy Young Award.

    • Darryl Kile Award: Morgan Ensberg, award given to player who reflects the qualities of the former Astros pitcher.

    • Astros Rookie of the Year: Chad Qualls, who played a key roll in the bullpen after getting called up in mid-August.

    • Greater Houston Major League Player of the Year: Carl Crawford, former Davis star hit .296 for Tampa Bay last season.

    • Allen Russell Distinguished Achievement Award: Phil Garner

    • Fred Hartman Award: Gerry Hunsicker
     
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