BOSTON — Roger Clemens of the Boston Red Sox is well aware of the hardships that have befallen previous American League Cy Young Award winners. He said Wednesday he will work extra hard to avoid a similar fate.
The previous seven AL Cy Young Award winners suffered disappointing seasons the following year, and three of them--Steve Stone, Pete Vuckovich and Bret Saberhagen--suffered serious arm injuries.
"That gives me something to shoot for, to try and knock off those gremlins," Clemens said via a telephone conference call from his home in Katy, Tex. "Past Cy Young winners have had tough years, and it will be tough to win it back-to-back. Cy Young is an award for the best pitcher, and I will rank up there with my heroes."
The 24-year-old received all the first-place votes cast by the 28 voting members of the Baseball Writers Assn. of America--two from each AL city--to become only the third unanimous winner in AL history. Denny McLain of the Detroit Tigers in 1968 and Ron Guidry of the New York Yankees in 1978 also won unanimously.
Ted Higuera of the Milwaukee Brewers finished second with 42 points, and Mike Witt of the California Angels was third with 35 points. Each voter was asked to name three pitchers in order of preference, with points awarded on a 5-3-1 basis for votes from first through third.
Others receiving votes were Dave Righetti of the Yankees (20 points), Jack Morris of the Tigers (13) and rookie Mark Eichhorn of the Toronto Blue Jays (2).
Clemens is only the second Boston pitcher ever to win the Cy Young Award. The first one was Jim Lonborg in 1967, and Lonborg, too, suffered a serious injury the following winter when he tore up his knee skiing at Lake Tahoe. After posting a 22-9 record in 1967, he fell to 6-10 in 1968 and did not win in double figures again until 1971.
Clemens said his contract will prevent him from repeating Lonborg's fate.
"My contract says I can't go skiing," Clemens said. "The contract also says I can't do jujitsu, play basketball, water ski, sky dive, hang-glide, parachute, ride motorcycles or go roller skating."
Clemens said one thing he can do is run, so he plans to enter the Houston Marathon, scheduled for late January.
The right-hander, who compiled the major leagues' best record of 24-4, is remaining at his home because his wife, Debbie, expects to give birth to their first child during the next 10 to 14 days.
"These honors are great, but in a heartbeat I would trade them all to be wearing that world championship ring," said Clemens, whose Red Sox were beaten by the New York Mets after coming within one strike of winning the World Series.
In his first full season with the Red Sox, Clemens set a major league record by striking out 20 batters in a 3-1 victory over Seattle last April 29. He won 14 games before absorbing his first loss in a 4-2 defeat by Toronto on July 2. He beat every team in the league at least once while leading the AL with a 2.48 earned-run average and finishing second to Seattle's Mark Langston in strikeouts, 245 to 238.