Has The Rocket’s Trenton Appearance Been Cheapened?

Roger Clemens / Photo by Mike Ashmore

May 23rd, 2007 is a day that I’ll never forget, and the same can be said for anyone who was associated with Roger Clemens rehab appearance in Trenton that day.  At the time, fans paid up to $800 for four tickets on eBay, thinking they’d be getting a once in a lifetime opportunity to see a first ballot Hall of Famer in the intimate setting of Waterfront Park.

Instead, they might have purchased a front row seat to see the pitcher who might be more synonymous with the steroid era than even Barry Bonds.

The anticipation for this game was unlike any other game in the 14 seasons of Thunder baseball, with the first game at Waterfront Park being a possible exception.  Not even the championship series, which Trenton won this season, came close to generating the kind of excitement that this did.

9,134 fans packed the house to see Clemens throw 102 pitches during his next to last stop in a minor league rehab tour that included Tampa and Scranton.  Media relations director Bill Cook told me during the game that approximately 125 media credentials were issued for the game, which is quite an increase over the six or eight members of the media that usually make a temporary home in the press box on game days.

As soon as Clemens left the game, so did the fans.  But the media left the press box soon afterwards, and waited upwards of an hour for the Rocket to finally surface for his press conference.  ESPNEWS and other outlets carried the news conference live, and no less than 14 cameras were filming in the cramped confines of the third clubhouse, which was jam-packed with both local and national media.

When he did return to the Bronx, he couldn’t quite match the hype that was generated by his dramatic comeback announcement at Yankee Stadium, and his career appeared to be over. 

But Clemens would always be remembered, and always be remembered for positive reasons up until December 13th, when the Mitchell Report came out.

As Clemens has said numerous times, there’s no real way he can prove that he didn’t do steroids, and it’s just as hard for anyone to prove that he did.  But in the ever popular court of public opinion, Clemens has been declared guilty by more than a few, and perhaps some of a few of those people paid hundreds of dollars to see the seven-time Cy Young winner in Trenton.

And you have to wonder about two things…do those people feel cheated?  Should they?  They may never know, the truth may never come out about what really did or didn’t happen with this Clemens saga.

Clemens rehab appearance will certainly rank high on the Top 20 Trenton Thunder moments for 2007, but where will it end up?  Stay tuned, as #19 is unveiled tomorrow.

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com


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