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Facing Clemens: Hitters on Confronting Baseball's Most Intimidating Pitcher Paperback – March 4, 2008

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From the Back Cover

 As the most feared pitcher of all time, Roger Clemens has won more than 350 games in his 20-year baseball career, struck out more than 4,500 batters (the second highest total in the history of the game), and earned a record seven Cy Young awards. Along the way, he’s hit 150 batters, knocked down hundreds more, and stared down every batter who tried to dig in against him.
Facing Clemens explores what it’s really like to face the Rocket Man. Author Jonathan Mayo has interviewed scores of players, including Ken Griffey Jr., Chipper Jones, Luis Gonzalez, Torii Hunter, Cal Ripken Jr., and even Clemens’s own son, Koby Clemens, for a batter’s box view of the Rocket bearing down from the mound.

About the Author

Jonathan Mayo is a Senior Writer for, the official Web site of Major League Baseball.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Lyons Press (March 4, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1599211629
  • ISBN-13: 978-1599211626
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 6.2 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,911,377 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Aaron Israel on March 19, 2008
Format: Paperback
Jonathan Mayo's analysis of Clemens would be a remarkable achievement in its own right, generously offering up honest analysis and insights into some the most intriguing personalities in Baseball. On its own right, Mayo's interviews reveal a side of these stars that most sports journalists either gloss over or miss altogether. All of this is true in its own right, but when you consider that Mayo wrote this book months before the whole story on Clemens broke out, then one can really see that this book is destined for history. Going forward, any other author will forever be tainted by the "scandal" side of Clemens and all the spurious conjecture and speculation. Lost forever is the opportunity to objectively view Clemens through the untainted lense that he will forever be viewed by history, whether he is proven innocent or not.

As such, baseball fans and in particular, Yankees fans, owe a debt of gratitude to Mayo for serving up what future baseball historians will no doubt recall as the last authoritative look at Roger Clemens the athlete, both for physical prowess, as much as if not more so for the terrific mental focus and awareness that he was able to bring to his game.

Mayo's intimate portrayal of Clemens is a masterful display of writing for his ability to draw us sympathetically towards the story without cheapening the experience by trying to convert that moment into sympathy for Clemens himself which has been so frequently done by lesser authors.

I would have liked to see some photos of Clemens particularly with his son as that story was the one that really stood out from the others. I can't recall another interview where Clemens revealed as much about this intimate side of his family.

Food for thought for the second printing...
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Jonathan Mayo's book, Facing Clemens, uses a deceptively simple but effective technique in discussing the pitching of Roger Clemens. He talks to the hitters who faced him and has them discuss the pitches he threw them, how effective the pitches were, and what they tried to do to get quality at bats against Clemens.

The book is especially pertinent because of the many false stories about Clemens invented and passed around in the years of the charges against him for enhancing his pitching by allegedly taking anabolic steroids and Human Growth Hormone. Those charges collapsed in a heap last year when he was acquitted for perjury in federal district court in Washington, D.C. Important factors in that acquittal were the testimony of his former catcher in Toronto, Charlie O'Brien, who testified under oath that Clemens was so honest that he would not even use scuffed baseballs, and of his manager in Houston, Phil Gardner, who explained Clemens's complex arsenal of pitches, including his deadly split finger fastball, developed in Toronto in 1997.

This testimony was in stark contrast to the myth that Roger Clemens was a power pitcher, a fastball or nothing guy, who declined by 1996 in Boston and was revived only by taking anabolic steroids in Toronto and New York between 1998 and 2001. In fact, Roger Clemens was a control pitcher from his earliest days, a kid with perfect command of the plate. He had no legitimate fastball until a defect in his pitching motion was discovered at San Jacinto Junior College and had no curve ball to speak of until a pitching coach at the University of Texas realized he did not hold the ball correctly.

Many baseball authorities consider Clemens the greatest pitcher in the 142 year history of the game.
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From reading the description, I expected this book to be focused heavily on insight from the hitters' perspectives regarding what it's like to step into the batter's box to face Roger Clemens. While there certainly was some of that, it seemed to focus much more on the opposing hitter and what sort of results he was able to achieve (or could not achieve) against Roger Clemens. Buy a cheaper used copy of this book and it will be worth your money.
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Baseball just isn't the same without a
great book to read concerning baseball's
all-time greats. Roger Clemens is cetainly
one of baseball's greatest pitchers no
matter which baseball ERA you speak about.
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