boston.com Sports Sportsin partnership with NESN your connection to The Boston Globe

Clemens tossed at son's game

Pitcher accused of seed-spitting

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 yesterday.

Even so, the umpire said the seed hit his pants cuff and 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.

"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.

Triple Crown national baseball director Sean Hardy said umpires from all over the region worked the 140-team tournament, but would not identify the ump who ejected Clemens.

"I think we'll pass on that," he said.

The episode began with Clemens 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," his 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 seed toward him.

"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 a 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 all the commotion.

"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 tonight when the Astros host Atlanta.

SEARCH THE ARCHIVES
 
Today (free)
Yesterday (free)
Past 30 days
Last 12 months
 Advanced search / Historic Archives