Clemens family welcomed at Alumni Game

Daniela Perez

Legends from Texas baseball’s past returned to UFCU Disch-Falk Field on Saturday afternoon for the annual Alumni Game. Notable alumni included Mark Payton of Oakland Athletics, Travis Jones of the Kansas City Royals and, of course, the legendary Clemens Family.

Roger “Rocket” Clemens was joined by sons Kacy and Kody on the alumni squad for the three-inning match up. Fans cheered as the three posed for a picture on the mound before the game. It was a moment seasoned fans will cherish for years to come thanks to the indisputable legacy Roger Clemens left at Texas.

“I thought it was really cool to see all three of them on the field at one time. It was special for them and the fans absolutely loved it,” head coach David Pierce said in a postgame interview.  

Roger Clemens, whose tenure with the Longhorns lasted from 1982 to 1983, is a legend among pitchers. At Texas, he helped lead the Longhorns to their 4th national championship victory in 1983. In the Major Leagues, he racked up 4,300 strikeouts and 320 wins while winning an MLB record seven Cy Young Awards for the league’s best pitcher.

Kody, who was drafted in 2018 by the Detroit Tigers, was eager to play alongside his father.

“I won’t be surprised if he hits 86 [mph], he’ll lock in just like he did when he was in his prime,” Kody said. “Obviously, it's going to be fun to play behind him.”

He wasn’t too far off. The 56-year-old’s first pitch came in at around 83 mph according to the radar gun at the stadium. Clemens only pitched one inning and allowed three runs on two walks and two hits, but did record a strikeout in the process.

It was also a quiet afternoon for the Clemens brothers, as they were only able to reach base one time in four combined plate appearances. Both were unable to accomplish much against junior pitcher Blair Henley. Judging by reactions of the fans, it would have been hard to tell that the Clemens family had underwhelming performances.

Alumnus Mark Payton, best known for his NCAA record of reaching base safely in 101 straight games in his career, returned to Disch and did what he‘s accustomed to, by reaching base on a walk.

The current Texas squad had an overall successful game against the Longhorn legends. Freshman outfielder Eric Kennedy had a stellar game at the plate, going 2-for-2 with a solo home run in the third inning off of Kansas City Royals pitcher Connor Mayes.

“Eric is just powerful,” Pierce said. “He can run, and he’s got some power in the bat and he has ability to get on base in other ways. He’s a guy who’s working his way up the lineup for sure.”

Zach Zubia also found success at the plate. He started off the scoring with an RBI walk in the first inning and later stacked two doubles.

In all, the Disch saw nine innings of play Saturday afternoon. The alumni game consisted of three innings which was won 4-2 by the white squad, made up of current Texas players. The next six innings turned into a scrimmage pinning the white squad against the orange, which was made up of the remaining current Longhorns. The white squad won once again, 3-2.

The Longhorns start their season on Feb. 15 on the road against the University of Louisiana.