Texas high school group to meet Tuesday regarding Clemens' planned speech

Updated: December 18, 2007, 10:06 AM ET
ESPN.com news services

Roger Clemens' inclusion in the Mitchell report sent shock waves through Major League Baseball, and the pitcher's popularity in his home state of Texas might be taking a hit.

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The Houston Chronicle erroneously reported on its Web site Monday that the Texas High School Baseball Coaches Association had removed Clemens as its keynote speaker at its state convention next month.

Instead, Jim Long, president of the THSBCA, said his group plans on holding an executive meeting Tuesday to decide if Clemens will remain as one of the presenters at the meeting in Waco.

"Nothing is final, but we will be meeting in regards to the issue," Long said, according to the Chronicle. "We would like to talk with Roger, and then decide on a course of action from there."

Long said the organization has not made any decisions about whether Clemens will speak at the 37th annual convention. But Clemens' name does not appear on the convention's agenda on the group's Web site.

The association is hoping to speak with Clemens for a few minutes on Tuesday during its executive meeting, Long said. The group plans to make a decision by 3 p.m. that day.

Clemens, who pitched for the University of Texas and came out of retirement after the 2003 season to pitch the next three seasons for the Houston Astros, is slated to be the convention's keynote speaker on Jan. 12, with the topic being "my vigorous workout, how I played so long [in professional baseball]," according to the Chronicle.

The right-hander, who pitched for the New York Yankees last season, was the biggest name linked by former Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell to illegal use of steroids and other performance-enhancing drugs. Mitchell's report was released Thursday.

"A dark cloud has been put over Roger's head and 99.9 percent of the media says he's guilty even though he says he's innocent," said Long, the coach at Brenham High School, located about 70 miles northwest of Houston. "That presents a problem for our association. It has to come first over a player or coach."

On Monday, Clemens, when approached by reporters staking out his son's elementary school in the Houston area, declined to talk about the Mitchell report.

"I'm not talking to y'all about it," he said , according to the New York Daily News. "We'll handle this our way."

Asked how he was doing, Clemens said, "I feel great." But as he walked to his car, he added "I would appreciate you not being here," the Daily News reported.

Clemens, long thought to be the greatest pitcher of his era, is a winner of seven Cy Young Awards, eighth all-time in victories and a former MVP who has been considered a lock for the Hall of Fame. Since Thursday, whether he is deserving of the Hall of Fame has generated passionate debate.

Clemens' agent, Randy Hendricks, did not immediately return a telephone call Monday from The Associated Press seeking comment.

At 45, Clemens has not said whether he hopes to pitch next season. Through his attorney, Rusty Hardin, Clemens denied he used performance-enhancing drugs.

" ... I respectfully suggest it is very unfair to include Roger's name in this report," Hardin said last week in a statement. "He is left with no meaningful way to combat what he strongly contends are totally false allegations. He has not been charged with anything, he will not be charged with anything and yet he is being tried in the court of public opinion with no recourse. That is totally wrong."

Long, referencing the three former Duke lacrosse players who were charged with rape but later cleared of all charges, was adamant that the association was not jumping to conclusions or was being pressured to retract its invitation to Clemens.

"We're not saying anything negative about Clemens," he said. "He's been a great supporter of our association."

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.