NEW YORK - The seventh-inning stretch was ending when the voice of public-address announcer Bob Sheppard told fans at Yankee Stadium to direct their attention to the owner's box behind home plate.
Standing there, microphone in hand, was Roger Clemens to personally announce his return to New York.
"Well, they came and got me out of Texas and I can tell you it's a privilege to be back," he said. "I'll be talking to y'all soon."
With his brief address, shown on the right-center field video board to 52,553 fans and many more watching on television, the Rocket rejoined the Yankees in most dramatic fashion.
He agreed to a $28 million, one-year contract that will start when he is added to the major-league roster for his first start, most likely in three to four weeks. Clemens will earn about $18.5 million under the deal, which will cost the Yankees about $7.4 million in additional luxury tax, meaning they are investing about $26 million in a seven-time Cy Young Award winner who will turn 45 in August.
"Roger Clemens is a winner and a champion, and he is someone who can be counted on to help make this season one that all Yankees fans can be proud of," owner George Steinbrenner said.
Clemens helped the Yankees win World Series titles in 1999 and 2000, then left after the 2003 season intending to retire. But when Andy Pettitte signed with the Houston Astros, Clemens also joined their hometown team.
The Rocket retired again after the 2004 and 2005 seasons, only to re-sign with the Astros both times. Pettitte changed the dynamic when he rejoined New York this season.
"Make no mistake about it, I've come back to do what they only know how to do here with the Yankees, and that's win a championship," Clemens said. "Anything else is a failure, and I know that."
Clemens is eighth on the career wins list with 348 and second in strikeouts with 4,604. He was 7-6 with a 2.30 ERA last season for Houston.