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Roger Clemens' Son: Lessons Learned from Baseball and His Dad

koby clemens.JPG
Bobbie O'Brien

Jurors will resume their deliberations over the fate of famed pitcher Roger Clemens this morning. The seven-time Cy Young Award winner  is on trial for perjury after his denials to Congress that he used steroids or human growth hormone.

Clemens’ legal saga has gone on for more than four years including one mistrial. It’s changed the public image of the veteran ball player, but it’s also drawn his family closer together. During closing arguments Tuesday, Clemens’ four sons sat behind him in the courtroom.

His oldest son - Koby Clemens - is a professional athlete currently assigned to the Toronto Blue Jays – “High A” ball club in Dunedin.

Koby Clemens is in his eighth season in the minor leagues. He was drafted at age 18 by the Houston Astros to play third base. He’s also played at first and as catcher hoping his versatility will help him make the jump to Major League Baseball where his father, Roger Clemens, spent 24 years as an ace pitcher.

“My dad taught me that nothing comes easy,” Koby said in an interview earlier this month at the Dunedin ballpark. “The biggest thing my dad has always taught me is it doesn’t matter if you want to be a professional athlete, a doctor or garbage disposer if you want to be the best at it you’ve got to work your butt off and nothing comes easy.”

And it hasn’t been easy for Koby. Instead of moving into the “Bigs,” last year the Astros released him. Koby played with the double-A Fisher Cats in New Hampshire before signing as a free agent with the single-A Dunedin Blue Jays this season.

In Dunedin, he's sharpened his catching skills under the watchful eye of manager Mike Redmond, a 13-year veteran catcher who was behind the plate just two years ago. Redmond said  Koby remains positive, is a hard worker despite being sent down and expects no special treatment despite his dad’s baseball legacy.

“I’m sure Koby would say the same thing that he wants to earn it himself,” Redmond said. “He’s a great kid . He’s working hard. He’s willing to come back here and work on his catching which shows a lot about him and his integrity.”

 It’s an attitude and approach to life that Koby learned from his dad – that and mental toughness.

But, as tough as he is, Koby softens a bit when he talks about his dad. When accusations surfaced that Roger Clemens had used performance enhancing drugs, Koby said it was difficult dealing with the relentless sports broadcasts.

“I remember I was in Salem, Virginia and I was just doing all my work and stuff and I asked the team to keep the TVs off just because I couldn’t do it,” Koby said referring to the TVs in the clubhouse.

Koby declined to talk specifically about his dad’s case. He admitted initially he was shaken up by criticism of his Dad.

“The way he’s posted up like a bad guy now, in my opinion, is so far from the truth,” Koby said. “My dad would literally give you the shirt off his back to anybody to help anybody out and that’s kind of person my dad has always been. And unfortunately, it’s kind of gotten him in this predicament a little bit.”

The only time Koby has ever seen his dad vulnerable is when Roger’s mother died in 2005.

Despite Roger Clemens' recent difficulties, Koby said his dad remains a kid at heart. After officially retiring, Roger Clemens converted an old garage into a sound studio at the family’s Houston home.

“I call it the midlife crisis room and just to give him a hard time about it,” Koby said. “It’s basically a glorified karaoke room and you know what it’s awesome. And,  he’s out there full heartedly singing it he’s just a goofball.”

That's a side of Roger Clemens that most don’t know. But his sons, Kody, Kory, Kasey and Koby do. They were with their father last week during closing arguments at his trial. One reporter described how they walked away together Roger and his four sons. One son had his arm around his dad’s shoulders.