I was taking a class at Boston University the night of April 29, 1985, and today I can’t recall the teacher, the class, or the course itself. What I can remember was the deafening roar that pierced the night air. The sound came in waves every few minutes. Clearly, something extraordinary was happening a mile away at Fenway Park. I knew the Red Sox were in town, (I couldn’t find a parking spot.) but it was April, and who could get that excited about the lowly Seattle Mariners?
When I got home that night, I learned that Roger Clemens had made history. He had become the first pitcher to ever strike out 20 batters in one game. He had become “the Rocket” of baseball.
A quarter century later and Roger now finds himself indicted for lying to Congress about his long-rumored use of steroids. Those who have followed his case closely are completely and utterly dumfounded. “How could Clemens have been so dumb?” they ask. His closest friends and associates had told the truth about his steroid use, a painful truth which the Rocket had continued to vigorously deny to reporters. But in going before a Congressional panel, surely he would flinch. Surely he would understand that it was time to tell the truth.
But he didn’t. He looked straight into all those faces and all those cameras and denied any wrongdoing.
Today when I shake my head and ask myself how anyone could think he’d possibly get away with lying on this most public stage, all I have to do is remember that night in April from a quarter century ago, a night when the crowds were wild, the spring was young , and the Rocket was above it all.