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There’s certainly no denying that Roger Clemens was one of the greatest Major League Baseball pitchers of all time. Over the course of 24 seasons with the Boston Red Sox, Toronto Blue Jays, New York Yankees, and Houston Astros, Clemens won seven Cy Young Awards, two World Series titles, was an 11-time All-Star and struck out 4,672 batters, the third-most in history.

Now, whether he had help from performance-enhancing drugs during his career is still up for debate but that’s not what we’re doing here today. No, today we’ll be looking back on Clemens’ alleged affair with late country star Mindy McCready, who died by suicide in 2013 at the young age of 37, and how that’s often been overlooked as one of the reasons he may not be in the Hall of Fame. Character plays a part in the voting and Clemens’ has been questioned often.

If you’re not familiar with the story, don’t worry, you’re not alone. The Roger Clemens-Mindy McCready “relationship,” which apparently began when she was just 16 years old, didn’t get nearly as much attention as his alleged steroid use, which is unfortunate in itself, as is the way she was treated in the media when news of the alleged affair broke, which first happened in 2008.

Roger Clemens and Mindy McCready first met when she was a teenager

In 2008, the New York Daily News reported that Roger Clemens and Mindy McCready, who shot to stardom in 1996 (the year she turned 21) with the release of her debut album, Ten Thousand Angels, had carried on a 10-year relationship that began when McCready was 15 and Clemens was a 28-year-old father of two and still with the Boston Red Sox. McCready later said that the two met when she was 16, not 15 as the initial report stated.

Sources claimed that Clemens and some of his teammates were in a karaoke bar in Fort Myers, Florida, which is McCready’s hometown, where the teenaged aspiring singer was performing and that it was “love at first sight” for Clemens, who allegedly threw a shirt onstage with his signature on it, which led to an introduction.

The report went on to say that McCready was unaware that Clemens was married when they first met until she and her brothers attended a game in which Clemens was participating and read it in the program, although sources said she was too young to truly be upset about it.

Over the years, it was said that the two would often take lavish trips together and that McCready and her brothers would use Clemens’ private plane even if he wasn’t with them. It was said that there were breaks in the relationship when McCready became involved with other men, which included an engagement to actor Dean Cain.

Mindy McCready said she couldn’t ‘refute anything in the story’

Not long after the initial report came out, Mindy McCready told the New York Daily News that she couldn’t “refute anything in the story” but did clarify that her relationship with Roger Clemens didn’t turn intimate until after she’d moved to Nashville and become a star.

Clemens’ lawyer at the time, Rusty Hardin, confirmed that there was a relationship between the two but that it was not sexual in nature and that McCready was simply “a longtime friend of Clemens and his family.” However, other sources claimed that McCready had never met Clemens’ wife, Debbie, to whom McCready offered an apology during an appearance on Inside Edition in November 2008 in which she provided more details on the relationship (h/t The Hollywood Reporter).

“We never had a meeting in secret. We went on vacations together: We went to Palm Springs; we went to Las Vegas, New York City. I wanted him to do right by me … and when he wouldn’t, I broke it off.

“I have nothing but remorse and nothing but sympathy for what she’s [Debbie Clemens] had to go through with this situation, and she has my utmost apology.”

Mindy McCready

Roger Clemens personally denied the relationship soon after the initial report was released but did say this:

“I have made mistakes in my personal life for which I am sorry.”

Roger Clemens

Less than a month after Mindy McCready’s appearance on Inside Edition, paramedics were called to her home after she apparently attempted suicide, as reported by Us Weekly.

Mindy McCready was vilified in the media and died by suicide in 2013

Once these reports came out, it was Mindy McCready who ultimately became the villain in the media, not Roger Clemens. Instead of focusing on the fact that Clemens may have taken advantage of a teenager, which even if nothing happened until McCready was of consensual age is still disgustingly wrong and inappropriate, it was McCready that took the majority of the hits.

She was accused of fabricating the relationship to boost her career, which, in 2008, was in trouble. Yes, McCready had struggled with drugs and alcohol but she’d also been in an abusive relationship with the father of her first child, who was actually charged with attempted murder for beating her in 2005, the same year in which she twice attempted suicide. And those things became the focus, not Roger Clemens. McCready was a troubled individual but that doesn’t mean that the things that she said weren’t true. It was the classic “he said, she said” tale in which the man, the star athlete, was essentially given the benefit of the doubt.

As time went on, Mindy McCready continued to struggle, and on February 27, 2013, she died by suicide from a self-inflicted gunshot to the head, as reported by the New York Daily News, in the same spot that the father of her second child had died from an apparent suicide just one month earlier. She was just 37 years old at the time of her death.

Roger Clemens’ statement on the matter is exactly why he shouldn’t be in the Hall of Fame

Roger Clemens Mindy McCready
(L-R) Roger Clemens; Mindy McCready | Marcel Thomas/FilmMagic; Randi Radcliff/Getty Images

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When the news broke of Mindy McCready’s death, Roger Clemens essentially refused to speak on the matter, instead opting to issue a prepared statement.

“Yes, that is sad news. I had heard over time that she was trying to get peace and direction in her life.

“The few times that I had met her and her manager/agent they were extremely nice.”

Roger Clemens on the death of Mindy McCready

Wow. Seeing as Clemens’ own attorney even said that the two were close friends, the “Rocket” didn’t seem to be too broken up about it, did he? And if the two had only met a few times, why even issue a statement in the first place? Nobody’s buying it, Roger, just as Hall of Fame voters…well, some of them anyway…aren’t buying his steroid use denials either, which is the main reason why he’s in his ninth year on the ballot and still hasn’t been voted in despite his accomplishments on the field.

It’s all about character with Roger Clemens. Sure, he was a great pitcher but he was a prima donna and a diva, especially in the later years of his career. Character is actually supposed to play a part in the Hall of Fame vote, as the “character clause” clearly states, which says “voting shall be based upon the player’s record, playing ability, integrity, sportsmanship, character, and contributions to the team(s) on which the player played.”

Sorry, Roger Clemens doesn’t fit that description and hasn’t for quite some time.

How to get help: In the U.S., call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. Or text HOME to 741-741 to connect with a trained crisis counselor at the free Crisis Text Line.