Mention the name Roger Clemens in a discussion amongst baseball fans and you're sure to get a colorful response of opinions and memories. The Rocket was one of the finest hurlers in the game when I was growing up and he was almost certainly destined for great things.....
Which he did achieve for the most part, albeit under a now ever-darkening cloud of PED suspicion and the embarrassing legal circus that culminated in congressional hearings. In light of recent events regarding a [former] Patriots tight end....seems kind of silly. But let's stick to good stuff!
Good stuff included my discovery of special cards called "relics" as I waded my way back into the hobby two years ago. Jersey swatches and bat pieces were brand new to me and I was simply AMAZED that I could own a piece of the game with so much ease and, sometime, such little cost!?
The dust has settled as my modern collecting education continued and I now have a better grasp on the relic cards that are quite pervasive in the hobby today. I still like relics from players or teams that I collect, but the luster of a plain old gray/white piece of fabric for random players has worn off a bit.
Before my initial fascination wore off, I found this jersey swatch card of Clemens at a great price and snatched it up:
Pretty slick, right? The Donruss design is a little flashy but I think it works pretty well, almost giving the sense of impending speed from Roger's fastball. The jersey swatch is there on the lower left. At the time, I just thought the card was cool and I wanted to add another Yankee 'relic' to my fledgling collection, especially a Clemens.
But after the past couple years of 'education', I now know that the "3-tone" swatch is fairly rare; often accompanied by adjective/nouns like: mojo, sick, nasty, etc. Those descriptions make me laugh and shake my head. This card however? Makes me happy!
Here's the back:
Yeah, the whole 'serial numbered' aspect of cards was a new concept to me as well when I started back up in 2011. Didn't even register with me when I snagged the card! 15/125? Not too shabby, I guess. You even get a mug shot of Clemens. Anything beyond the standard COA and "Congratulations!" message is pretty rare these days for relic cards. So I'll take the bonus pic! Also, this card is really, REALLY thick.
I like that the COA statement confirms that the jersey from which the swatch was cut was worn in an official MLB game. Since this card is from '04, I like to pretend that this is a piece of the "Away Gray" jersey Rocket sported into Fenway Park on October 11, 2003. It was the infamous Game 3 of the ALCS that showcased a historic rivals' pitching duel between Pedro Martinez and Clemens, who as we all know began his famous career as a Red Sox. Clemens won the game, supposedly his last for the series (though he and Pedro would have a rematch in the eventual Game 7). The game was enhanced/scarred by a brawl between the two teams after a high and tight Clemens fastball hurt the feeling of one, Manny Ramirez.
The benches cleared but before order was restored, Don Zimmer famously charged Pedro Martinez - who threw the old man to the ground - but clearly held his own.
Anyways, OBVIOUSLY - this is a piece of the jersey Clemens was wearing that day.
I can dream!
Thanks for reading!