August 3, 2004
Roger Clemens Ejected From Son’s Game
By BEN WALKER
(AP) -- Roger Clemens got tossed for a spitter. Ejected from a youth league game after his 10-year-old son was called out in a close play, Clemens was banished to the parking lot after an umpire said the Rocket spit a sunflower seed at him.It happened Saturday in rural Craig, Colo., during a 10-and-under Triple Crown Sports tournament. The future Hall of Famer was away from the Houston Astros, as his team allows him to be when he's not pitching.
"It wasn't like he was shouting or came storming on the field, like a Mike Piazza moment," Ron Stapp, whose son made the phantom tag on Kacy Clemens on a steal attempt, said Monday.
Even so, Clemens wound up watching the rest of game from his car, peering over a fence as Kacy and the Katy (Texas) Cowboys lost to the Bakersfield (Calif.) Curve 11-5.
"I supported the umpire's decision and he respectfully left," field supervisor Jim Carpenter said.
A call to the Triple Crown coordinator for comment was not returned. Organizers did not identify the umpire.
"Roger told me he was signing autographs when the disputed call happened and didn't even see the play," said one of his agents, Randy Hendricks. "To his knowledge, no one ever asked him to leave.
"In his mind, it's a nonevent," Hendricks said.
Clemens was sitting in his own chair, behind a fence near the first base dugout, when Kacy was called out at second base in the middle innings.
Stapp's son Ryan made the tag - "my son admitted he missed him," the dad said - the Cowboys and their fans complained.
"But Roger never said a word," Katy manager Doug Hanson said. "He was holding his camcorder and never stood up. He didn't do anything wrong."
Hanson said the umpire, whom he described as being about 20 years old, walked over toward the bench.
"All of a sudden, I hear him say, 'He's outta here!'" Hanson said. "I asked him who because I thought it was one of my coaches. And then he says, 'Roger.'
"I couldn't believe it. I said to him, 'You just ejected Roger Clemens?' and he said, 'Yeah.'"
Hanson said the umpire told him that although Clemens didn't say anything, the pitcher spit a sunflower that hit the ump's pants cuff.
"There was a pile of 250 to 300 sunflower seeds there, I don't know how the umpire knew that was the one," Hanson said.
Carpenter was then summoned from an adjacent field and said it was time for Clemens to leave the premises. At that point, Clemens simply got up and left the Loudy-Simpson complex without an argument.
"He told me it wasn't worth it, that he didn't want to be distraction and to let the boys play ball," Hanson said.
Bakersfield manager Travis Sterling said he wasn't aware that Clemens had been ejected.
"I thought Roger had just gone over to the bleachers to sign more autographs. He signed a lot of them," Sterling said.
In fact, young Ryan Stapp approached Clemens shortly after his missed tag set off the episode.
"He signed my son's ball. He was real respectful and nice," Ron Stapp said.
Bakersfield won two more games and left town with the championship and several Clemens autographs.
Clemens was in northwest Colorado because his deal with the Astros gives him personal time to watch his four boys play sports. He pitched Houston past Arizona last Wednesday, and is scheduled to start Tuesday night when the Astros host Atlanta.
Clemens is 12-3 with a 2.77 ERA while pitching for his hometown team. When he's not playing, he's often at the fields with his sons.
"He knows more about baseball in his little finger than I'll ever know, but he's been great to have around this year," Hanson said. "He doesn't ask for any special treatment because of who he is."
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