It was 36 years ago this past Friday that Roger Clemens made his major league debut, starting against the Cleveland Indians at Municipal Stadium.
For some ardent fans who studied such things, the arrival of Clemens -- just 11 months after he had been drafted in the first round out of the University of Texas -- was A Big Deal. Clemens came with some advance notice, having dominated in college but in that era, the pre-internet age, he was largely anonymous.
Baseball America was still in its infancy. It wasn't until 1982 that ESPN began televising the College World Series and even then, few households had access to cable.
"Outside of the people who knew him and saw him in college,'' said former Red Sox catcher Rich Gedman, now the hitting coach at Triple-A Pawtucket, "no one knew who he was.''
Within the organization, there was significant anticipation. Most players on the major league roster knew of him and his potential. But the advance hype surrounding Clemens' major league debut failed to inspire a rush on the Municipal Stadium ticket window: a crowd of 4,004 was on hand that night.
Still, even then, the players could tell.
"We had heard so much about him coming up,'' recalled former Red Sox infielder Jerry Remy, then in his second-to-last season in the majors. "We were all kind of eager to see him pitch. You could tell right away that this guy was someone special. Now, you had no idea at that time that he was going to turn into what he was going to turn into. But he was different than everybody else -- he was big, he was strong, strong legs and he had a nice delivery. You could see all of this.''
Remy wasn't in the starting lineup that night, but pinch-hit and got into the game later. But he watched from the dugout and made sure to pay attention to the then-21-year-old rookie on the mound.