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Pioneer League baseball: Roger Clemens to throw out first pitch at Orem Owlz's home opener

Former Houston Astros pitcher and current special assistant to the general manager, Roger Clemens, attends the Astros' spring training baseball workout, Saturday, Feb. 21, 2015, in Kissimmee, Fla. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
Former Houston Astros pitcher and current special assistant to the general manager, Roger Clemens, attends the Astros' spring training baseball workout, Saturday, Feb. 21, 2015, in Kissimmee, Fla. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
David Goldman, AP

OREM — The "Rocket” is coming to Utah County.

Roger Clemens, one of the most dominating pitchers in Major League Baseball history, will stage a pitching clinic and throw out the first pitch at the Orem Owlz's home opener against the Ogden Raptors on Saturday at Brent Brown Ballpark.

Clemens, who piled up 354 victories and won a record seven Cy Young Awards during his stellar 24-year MLB career, will stage a pitching clinic at 3:30 p.m., then throw out the ceremonial first pitch at 7 p.m.

He will not, however, be available for autographs. Instead, a pair of memorabilia offers are available to those in attendance at Saturday's game.

For $25, fans will get a ticket to the game and a bobblehead doll of Clemens, wearing an Owlz jersey with a "Rocket" for a right arm, that's been pre-signed by the 11-time All-Star.

And for $400, fans will receive admission to the game, a stars-and-stripes jersey signed by Clemens and an opportunity to meet-and-greet the legendary right-hander and have their photo taken with him.

In addition, all fans in attendance will receive a ticket giving them an opportunity to win one of 500 unsigned Clemens bobbleheads which will be given away in a drawing during the game.

Clemens' appearance in Orem's home opener was fostered by his close friendship with Owlz owner Jeff Katofsky.

The intense pitcher, who ranks third all-time in career strikeouts (4,672) and helped the New York Yankees win a pair of World Series championships, was an often polarizing player whose career was tarnished by allegations of steroids use.

"Either you love him or you hate him," said Owlz assistant general manager Julie Hatch, "but he's Roger freaking Clemens."

Proceeds from Saturday's events will be donated to Clemens' charity for children in Houston.

Gates will open at 3 p.m. and remain open during batting practice while a live cello band, Synergy, will be playing for fans' enjoyment.

While Clemens is the biggest celebrity to attend an Owlz game since the "Soup Nazi" of "Seinfeld" fame a few years ago, Hatch said Saturday's special appearance by the legendary pitcher is one of many promotional events planned by the Orem franchise this season.

"Our theme this year is 38 games, 38 parties. We have a lot of fun things planned for this season," she said. "Every game we're gonna have a party and make sure the fans are having a good experience.

"That's the beauty of minor league baseball. There's things you can do in minor league baseball that you don't see in the majors. The fan participation, we have some good theme nights coming up, and we're gonna focus on the community this year.

"We'll do a whole 'Faith and Family Week' and embrace the fact that we're probably what, 90 percent Mormon here in Utah County," Hatch said. "It's the first time we've ever started a homestand on a Sunday, so we're gonna start off with Fast Sunday. And Monday night, we're gonna have Family Night — five tickets, five hot dogs and five drinks for $45. We're also gonna have Enrichment Night, Mutual Night and Institute Night that week."

In addition to Saturday's event, the Owlz will have five other bobblehead nights this season offering momentos of former Owlz players C.J. Cron, Kole Calhoun, Erick Aybar and Garrett Richards along with "Charlie," the former Provo Angels' mascot. They'll also have a Provo retro night in which the Owlz players will wear retro Provo Angels jerseys.

Up north in Ogden, the Pioneer League's other Beehive State team, the Raptors, also has added some new wrinkles to the promotional mix.

"We're going to do something we've never done before,” said Raptors team president Dave Baggott. "We're going to have a day of the week that will be a consistent promotion every night of the week for the entire season."

Thus, each Monday home game will be Family Night at Lindquist Field, where fans will be able to get four box seats and four hot dogs for $20. That will be followed by T-shirt Tuesday, when fans can purchase a box seat and a T-shirt for $10. Then comes Weiner Wednesday, when $1 hot dogs will be for sale all night long. That's followed by Thirsty Thursday, with half-price beer and fountain drinks offered all night long.

Then comes Fireworks Friday, when the Raptors will stage postgame fireworks after all Friday night home games. Then it's Date Night Saturday, when fans can bring a date to the ballpark, buy a ticket and the Raptors will give their date a free ticket. And finally, there's Hawaiian Shirt Sunday, when fans are encouraged to wear their favorite Hawaiian shirt to the game, and the Raptors' players will be wearing theirs on the field as well.

"The emphasis is on entertainment and having a good time,” Baggott said, "because God knows the rest of our lives are stressful. The least you can do is go to a ballpark, crack open a bag of peanuts, have a cold one or a Pepsi or a hot dog or whatever, and sit down and forget about your mortgages for three hours."

EMAIL: rhollis@desnews.com