With Roger Clemens coming to PNC Field tonight …
In 2012, Roger Clemens pitched an inning of the University of Texas alumni game.
Batting third for the Longhorns that day: Mark Payton.
Payton, the RailRiders outfielder, paid attention to the first two hitters. Once Clemens jumped ahead, he brought out the splitter that helped him notch 4,672 strikeouts in the big leagues. He struck out those first two Texas kids.
Payton wasn’t about to suffer the same fate.
“I’m like, ‘I want no part of that. I’m going to try to hit the first fastball I see,’” Payton said.
“I got one pitch off him. One pitch, one flyout to center.”
Payton played with Clemens’ son Kacy at Texas. He said the team even went for dinner at the Clemens household after a game in Houston.
“He was always around,” Payton said. “He’s one of the nicer guys I’ve ever met. … Really couldn’t ask for a better person, so I’m excited to see him tonight.”
Clemens would walk among the Longhorns fans and be personable with them, Payton said. When he’d throw batting practice to Kacy, he’d ask if other players wanted to jump in, too.
“He throws a great batting practice,” Payton said. “He’s one of those pitchers in batting practice — you know, most pitchers that throw batting practice, don’t like getting hit hard. But he doesn’t care. He just goes out there and serves it up down the middle and just lets you hit him.
“He’s probably the best competitor of all time, and I’ll respect him always for that and I’m going to respect him as a person. As a baseball player, you can’t really ask for anything more other than a guy that goes outs there and competes every day.”