Baseball: 'Superman' Clemens secures 300th win

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The Independent Online

Roger Clemens looked around his cluttered locker, stuffed with balls and jerseys and trinkets from an historic night. There were messages to return and souvenirs to sign. At least it seemed that way. "It's all still coming in," he said at the weekend, sounding overwhelmed.

Clemens earned his 300th career win and recorded his 4,000th strike-out on Friday night when pitching the New York Yankees past St Louis 5-2, then celebrated with his family and friends late into the evening.

Clemens' win kept the Yankees in first place in the American League East. He is the 21st pitcher to reach 300 victories, reaching the milestone in his fourth try with a team that has been struggling.

"It's nice to get it over with," said the Yankees manager Joe Torre, "even though I still don't feel it had anything to do with us not playing well."

Clemens wore nine different uniforms on his big night, switching in the clubhouse each inning. Four of them will go to his sons, another to the Yankees and certainly another to the Hall of Fame.

"I felt like Superman changing in a phone booth," he said.

Clemens still intends to retire after this season and insists he will have a Yankees cap on his Hall of Fame plaque. This is his fifth year with the Yankees after 13 with Boston and two with Toronto, and the folks in Cooperstown [home of the Hall of Fame] make the final call.

"They're not going to tell me what hat I'm wearing," Clemens said. "I became a Hall of Famer here."

While Clemens has reached all the big numbers he can envisage, there is some urgency. Having lost his father as a boy, he wants his mother to attend his Hall induction, which would come in the summer of 2009 if he does not play beyond this year.

His mother, Bess, suffers from emphysema and was unable to attend the historic game as she was also recovering from a recent bout of pneumonia. "I don't want that seat to be empty," Clemens said.

Clemens also does not want to leave empty-handed in his final season. His 10 strikeouts on Friday gave him 97, which leads the America League, and he remains one of baseball's best power pitchers.

Yet he has got his eye on one final, bigger prize - a third World Series ring. "I still have unfinished business. My work's not done," he added. "As far as going out on top - to go out as a champion, that would be the top."