NEW YORK (AP) — 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 soon.”
With his brief address, shown on the right-center field videoboard to 52,553 fans and many more watching on television, the Rocket rejoined the Yankees in most dramatic fashion.
He agreed to a $28 million, one-year contract 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 world championship.”
Clemens helped the Yankees win World Series titles in 1998 and 1999, 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. The Yankees, according to Hendricks, said: “We’d like you yesterday.”