Roger Clemens got fewer votes and a lower percentage in his second year on the Baseball Hall of Fame ballot as suspicions of the use of performance-enhancing drugs hover over his candidacy.
Despite 354 victories, 4,672 strikeouts and seven Cy Young Awards earned while playing with the Red Sox, Blue Jays, Yankees and Astros, Clemens was named on just 202 of 571 ballots in voting by the Baseball Writers' Association of America released Wednesday and didn't come close to the 429 needed for induction.
Only 35.4 percent of the voters checked Clemens' name. Eight other players got more votes, and only three -- Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and Frank Thomas -- cleared the 75 percent mark required for admission.
Clemens did better in his first year on the ballot, getting 214 votes and 37.6 percent. He finished eighth a year ago, when no candidate got enough votes for admission to the Hall of Fame.
Clemens did not comment on Wednesday, but in previous interviews, he said he'd done all he could for his candidacy in his performance on the field. He has steadfastly denied using performance-enhancing drugs despite being named in the 2007 Mitchell Report on baseball and PEDs.
After pitching a few games for an independent league team in 2012 and flirting with the idea of making a few starts for the Astros, Clemens seems to have moved once and for all into the next chapter of his life. He keeps a much lower profile than he once did, but certainly is not in hiding. He works for the Astros as an adviser and instructor, attends an assortment of celebrity golf tournaments and has a long list of charitable interests.
Once upon a time, being inducted into the Hall of Fame seemed critically important to Clemens. He understood he was one of the best ever and enjoyed the comparisons to other all-time greats.
Clemens has a resume that may never be matched. Beyond the numbers, he was also one of the game's great competitors, and at least in the second half of his career, was both a great teammate and a terrific ambassador for the sport.
Everything changed after the Mitchell Report. Still, Clemens established himself as one of the best ever during a 24-year career. He's ninth all-time with the 354 victories and third with those 4,672 strikeouts. Clemens' name is all over the leader boards in virtually every pitching category, from winning percentage (18th at .658) to shutouts (26th with 46) to starts (seventh with 707).
Besides the seven Cy Young Awards, a record, Clemens finished second once and third twice. He won the American League Most Valuable Player Award in 1986 and finished among the top 10 in the balloting five other times. Clemens led his league in victories four times, in ERA seven times and in strikeouts five times. He pitched more than 200 innings 15 times.
There are different chapters of Clemens' 24 seasons, but they're almost all astonishingly good. For instance, in his first seven full seasons with the Red Sox, he averaged 19 victories, 34 starts, 257 innings and 239 strikeouts. In Clemens' final nine full seasons, he averaged 17 victories, 214 innings and 212 strikeouts. Those who played with him say he worked harder and competed more fiercely than almost anyone. However, a majority of Hall of Fame voters have declined to vote for anyone connected to performance-enhancing drugs.
"The Hall of Fame is great," Clemens told CBS News in 2012. "I've got a lot of great buddies there. The guys that are there paved the way for me to do what I love to do and make a lot of money doing it, take care of my family."
To deny someone who won more games than Tom Seaver and had more strikeouts than Walter Johnson is not easy to swallow for many. Clemens also helped teams get to the postseason 12 times, and in eight World Series starts, he was 3-0 with a 2.37 ERA.
Clemens made his Major League debut at 21 in 1984 and pitched his final game 23 years later at 45. With or without the Hall of Fame, he had an amazing run.
Richard Justice is a columnist for MLB.com. Read his blog, Justice4U. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less