On April 29, 1986, Boston Red Sox Roger Clemens became the first pitcher in history to strike out 20 batters in a nine-inning major league game…..in a game against the Seattle Mariners at Fenway Park….as in the history of major league baseball….other than Clemens….only Cubs Kerry Wood and Tigers Max Scherzer have matched the total….as Mariners Randy Johnson fanned 20 batters in nine innings on May 8, 2001….however, as the game went into extra innings….it is not categorized as occurring in a nine-inning game. Tom Cheney holds the record for any game with 21 strikeouts in 16 innings. Clemens attributes his switch from what he calls a “thrower” to a “pitcher” to the partial season Hall of Fame pitcher Tom Seaver spent with the Red Sox in 1986.
Roger Clemens was drafted 19th overall by the Boston Red Sox in 1983….and quickly rose through the minor league system by making his major league debut on May 15, 1984. An undiagnosed torn labrum threatened to end his career early….as he would successfully undergo arthroscopic surgery at the hands of the then relatively unknown Dr. James Andrews.
Clemens’ 24 wins in 1986 helped guide the Red Sox to a World Series berth….earning Clemens the American League MVP award for the regular season. Clemens started in the All-Star Game and was named the Most Valuable Player for throwing three perfect innings and striking out two. He also won the first of his seven Cy Young Awards….and when Hall of Fame legend Hank Aaron said that pitchers should not be eligible for the MVP because they only played every 4 or 5 days….Clemens responded saysing….“I wish he were still playing (talking about Hammerin’ Hank)….cuz I’d probably crack his head open to show him how valuable I was.”….as Clemens was the only starting pitcher since Oakland A’s Vida Blue in 1971 to win a league MVP award until Detroit Tigers Justin Verlander won the award in 2011.
At the end of the day….this two part video collection of that historic day in April 1986 will forever stand as a truly historic game in which the future 3rd place all time strikeout leaders with 4,672 K’s was at his best while mowing down 20 Mariners in a 9 inning game….makes these must see TV for any baseball fan.