On the night before the Yankees opened their Division Series against the Minnesota Twins, Clemens took Pettitte to dinner. Pettitte admitted that the uncertainty of free agency nagged at him. "You've got the rest of the winter for that," Clemens said. "It's not about you now. It's about the team."
Pettitte pitched brilliantly in the postseason. He won three games, all after New York had lost Game 1. The New York press hailed him as a worthy successor to Whitey Ford. Indeed, Clemens had been telling him throughout the season, "Stick around and you've got a chance to run down Whitey's record [for wins by a Yankee (236)]." As Pettitte was beating the Florida Marlins 6-1 in Game 2 of the World Series, Alan Hendricks turned to Laura in the stands and said, "You know he's coming back here, don't you?"
"Yes," replied Laura, a Texan as well. "I know. I've followed him this long. I'll continue to follow him."
Three nights later Clemens made what he had intended to be the last of his 632 major league starts. He gave up three quick runs in the first inning on five straight two-out hits but mustered six scoreless innings thereafter. At the age of 41, on a sweltering night in Miami and working in his 235th inning of the year, Clemens blew in his final eight pitches to Marlins second baseman Luis Castillo at 94, 93, 92, 91, 94, 95, 94 and 93 mph, the last of which Castillo looked at for strike three. In other words Clemens went out in a puff of serious smoke, the kind pitchers half his age only dream about.
Clemens's nine-year-old son, Kacy, ended his father's farewell press conference by thanking the assembled media for watching over his dad for 20 years. "We'll take it from here," the boy said. Golf, maybe some TV work for the Yankees, the requisite Yankees legend coaching gig in spring training and being a stay-at-home dad—mostly the dad part—awaited Clemens.
Pettitte, outdueled by Josh Beckett, lost the sixth and final game of the Series, 2-0. Explaining what happened between Pettitte and the Yankees after that is like asking the two parties in a fender bender to describe the accident. The Yankees' version is that Pettitte wanted to go home, and they abided by his agents' request for deliberate negotiations. "I started hearing from writers during the season that he didn't want to come back," Cashman says. "Clearly Andy wanted to go home. He's as culpable as we are."
"Not true," Pettitte says. "I got seven offers, and the Yankees' was the worst. What does that tell you? But you know what? I feel like God has a plan and all of this worked out for a reason."
On Dec. 10 Pettitte made his decision to pitch for Houston while he was attending Josh's football banquet. Andy leaned over to Laura and said, "Let me have the cellphone. I'm going to call Alan and Randy."
"My heart fell into my stomach," Laura says. "It was so exciting. I had to ask myself, 'Is this really happening?' "
The Astros had a three-year, $31.5 million offer on the table. The Yankees' last proposal did not include a fully guaranteed third year. Randy Hendricks immediately called Cashman and said they would give the Yankees one last shot: $52 million over four years. Cashman asked if that offer would get Pettitte. The agent told him it would "get his attention." Cashman passed.