Tournament organizer apologizes to Clemens

Friday, August 6, 2004

By Ben Walker ~ The Associated Press

Roger Clemens was given an emphatic apology Thursday for "unjustly" being ejected from his 10-year-old son's baseball game last weekend in Colorado.

David King, president of tournament organizer Triple Crown Sports, said "Mr. Clemens was a non-aggressor and a victim of mistaken identity and confusion" by an upset umpire.

Clemens was asked to leave son Kacy's game Saturday in Craig, Colo., when a 22-year-old ump said the Houston Astros pitcher spit a sunflower seed at him. Moments earlier, Kacy was called out on a stolen base attempt -- the fielder later admitted he missed the tag -- and the Rocket watched the rest of the contest from a parking lot.

"Mr. Clemens never raised his voice, never physically confronted our official, nor was he ever on the field of play," King said in a written statement, underlining those words.

"Mr. Clemens was unjustly asked to leave the field of play," King said. "For all of this, we apologize to Mr. Clemens."

King spoke to the future Hall of Famer by telephone to apologize personally.

"I'm pleased with their statement," Clemens said through agent Alan Hendricks before Houston played Atlanta.

Earlier this week, Clemens became upset when discussing the episode, saying, "This is a shame and it's not even an issue."

Clemens was away from the Astros, as his deal with the team allows when he's not pitching, to watch his son play for the Katy (Texas) Cowboys in a 10-and-under tournament.

Clemens was sitting on a bucket, behind a fence near the first base dugout, when Kacy was called out at second base in the middle innings of a game the Bakersfield (Calif.) Curve won 11-5.

The Katy coaches and fans complained about the call, but witnesses said Clemens never said a word. The umpire came over to quiet the ruckus, and said he was hit in the pants cuff by a sunflower seed spit by Clemens.

Clemens left without an argument and said "he didn't want to be distraction and to let the boys play ball," Katy manager Doug Hanson said.

King said the Katy coaches were contesting the call and "our official was upset and angered and approached the area to remove someone. In our official's judgment, a seed had come from the area during the coaches' arguments.

"After reviewing the situation, including the location of the official, it is impossible to believe that a seed was spit at our official by Roger Clemens or anyone."

King also praised Clemens for talking to the young players, parents and coaches and signing lots of autographs.

"I have nothing but good things to say about Roger Clemens," King said later.

King did not identify the young umpire, but said he was a schoolteacher and in his seventh year of calling games.

"With all the complaining the Katy coaches were doing, one of them probably deserved to be gone," King said. "But the vision and the reality, it took it in a direction that didn't happen."

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