Roger Clemens will always be remembered as a dynamic pitcher. His permanent record is now tarnished thanks to his alleged use PED's during his career, but there is a healthy debate as to whether or not this abuse made him better, last longer or....somewhere in between. Regardless of the things we will never know, I will always say that many or most of the PED-using stars from that era were still very, very talented baseball players. And when it comes to pitching talents, there were very few who were hurling as fiercely as the Rocket during his prime.
I picked up my first Clemens rookie card during my quest (still on-going!) to build the 1985 Topps set. It is one of those cards that have become a standard for those of that recall the 80's with hobby fondness. It led to the junk wax era, but these were the days that formed our love of the hobby - so it can't be all that bad!
Clemens' 1984 Fleer Update card is the rarest d most expensive rookie card of the bunch, but I always wanted a copy of his Donruss version. I was finally able to scoop this card up for about $4:
It's not perfect, but it has pretty good centering - a feat for '85 Donruss based on a lot of the examples that I've seen. The edges are also pretty solid, a challenge for sets with mostly solid-black borders. I'm looking at you, 1971 Topps!
Unlike its Topps brother, this Clemens card has a great action shot of the Rocket about to deliver a sizzling fastball. The color scheme of the red and black across uniform, card and Red Sox logo works REALLY well, too! Even if it is the Red Sox logo.....
Here's the back:
Pretty standard Donruss for back in the day - uninspiring. But, wait. What's that? Guess what I just noticed? The "Contract Status" information line! What a FANTASTIC addition to a baseball card. Has this piece of information appeared on any other brands? Very interesting, and it definitely peaks my interest that Clemens' contract was only through the '85 season, the year of this card.
I also like the statistic regarding Clemens' feat of 15 K's against the Royals on August 21st of the previous year. It states that this was the most by a Red Sox pitcher since 1961.
Okay, challenge accepted!
In 1961, on May 12th, 17 batters for the Washington Senators were struck out by Red Sox hurler, Bill Monbouquette?
I fully admit that I knew nothing about Bill before conducting this '85 Donruss Clemens-inspired research. I'm not a red Sox fan, but you can now call me a fan of Mr. Monbouquette. He was a four time All Star and hurled a no-hitter in 1962 against the Chicago White Sox. He played most if his ten years in Boston but also took the mound for the Tigers, Yankees (whew!) and Giants as he finished up his career.
Hey, how fitting is it that Clemens is connected to Monbouquette via the single-game strikeout record AND they both played as Sox and Yanks? Magical, right there.
One more thing - "Monbo" had a great Eastwood-esque facial expression that resulted in some of the finest baseball card pictures I've ever seen. Check these out!
I love it. Is it just me, or does Mr. Monbouquette also look like Virgil Trucks? I will definitely be on the lookout for some Monbouquette cards to add to my collection, Boston or no Boston :)
Yes, back to Clemens.....
Love having this card in my collection even more now! My second Clemens rookie.
Thanks for reading and keep collecting!