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The Clemens tragedy

Culture | Upon news of a six-count indictment arising from a controversy over steroids, a remembrance of a legendary pitcher who once seemed serious in yearning for Christ

When a federal grand jury today indicted seven-time Cy Young Award winner Roger Clemens for allegedly lying to Congress about using steroids and human growth hormone, my thoughts returned to an interview I did with him for WORLD in spring training, 1994.

He said, "My father passed away when I was 9. When I was young going to church was like the sun coming up. You could count on it, Wednesdays and Sundays. Then when he passed away, my mom took on three jobs, raised six of us. She was the force behind us all, she still is, but that church consistency was hard. . . . I've never really had it since then."

The father Clemens referred to was his step-father, Woody Booher; Clemens's parents separated when he was a baby. Booher died when Clemens was 9. Clemens has said that the only time he envied other players is when he saw them in the clubhouse with their dads.

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Clemens faces charges of obstruction of Congress, making false statements, and perjury. The six-count grand jury indictment said that Clemens obstructed a congressional inquiry with 15 statements that he made under oath, including denials that he had ever used steroids or human growth hormone. The indictment alleged that he lied and committed perjury regarding the same matters.

Clemens' steroid use apparently began in the late 1990s. Back in 1994 he told me, "I know that once you commit yourself really to Christ, you never drift away. I know that's the basis for why I'm here, why I'm able to succeed. I know there's a better life for me regardless of what I do here. I know that my father's always watching over me . . . but there's so much media and off-the-field stuff. . . ."

So much stuff. I don't know whether Clemens was playing me in 1994, but he seemed serious in his yearning. If the charges are true, how the mighty have fallen. So much stuff.

Marvin Olasky
Marvin Olasky

Marvin is editor in chief of WORLD News Group and the author of more than 20 books, including The Tragedy of American Compassion. Follow Marvin on Twitter @MarvinOlasky.

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