I saw it noted on Twitter this afternoon that today is the 10th anniversary of one of the more memorable games I covered during my years on the beat. On June 13, 2003, Roger Clemens joined two very elite clubs by recording his 300th win and 4000th strikeout in the big leagues.
It was part of a very memorable trip to Boston and New York, actually. Also on that same trip, Tino Martinez made his first return to the Bronx since leaving the Yankees. Scott Rolen made a tumbling slide at Fenway that caused him some pain (he later came to call it his “scorpion slide). Matt Morris started a hometown game but left after a first-inning rain delay. There was a lot of stuff going on. Then again, there was a lot of stuff going on every week in 2003, it seemed.
But easily, the memory I’ll always have from that weekend in the Bronx has to do with Edgar Renteria. Renteria was one of my favorite guys to cover. He’s smart and funny, and although he was always uncomfortable with his English, that doesn’t mean he doesn’t/didn’t speak it well. Edgar was definitely fun to cover, and was of course beloved by his teammates. And if he didn’t like talking to TV cameras, hey, that just meant he was more available to the writers.
So anyway. Renteria was Clemens’ 4000th strikeout victim, so he was one of the people we obviously sought out in the clubhouse after the game. And he swore he had no idea he’d entered the history books. He knew Clemens was going for No. 300, but he didn’t know that he was No. 4,000.
This despite the fact that the old ballpark in the Bronx was absolutely shaking with every strike against him. This despite all the attention. Edgar told the scrum of reporters that, hey, he tipped his cap to Clemens for the accomplishment, but he really couldn’t tell us much about what the experience was like — because in the moment, he didn’t know.
Skeptical, I pulled him aside the next day and asked again. “C’mon Edgar… were you just pulling our legs? Did you really not know?”
He swore he had no idea. I asked him, didn’t it seem unusual that the place was rocking on every pitch like it was the last out of a no-hitter?
The response from the man who’d never played in the Bronx before was perfect: “They were cheering every at-bat.
“But I thought it was always like that (at Yankee Stadium).”