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Big League Stew

Actor Jon Hamm recalls playing ball with Roger Clemens at Texas: Is it true?

Big League Stew

So actor Jon Hamm of "Mad Men" appeared on "Late Night with David Letterman" on Thursday, and he told a story about playing baseball with the legendary Roger Clemens at the University of Texas. One problem: Hamm and Clemens didn't attend school at the same time. Hamm, who turns 41 soon, was at Austin starting in 1989. By that time, Clemens — who turns 50 (!) in August — was in his sixth season pitching for the Boston Red Sox.

So, has Hamm gone ... mad?

A quick look around the Internet, and you'll see blogs lambasting Hamm ("Hammbasting," if you will) for telling a tall tale — as if he were his Don Draper advertising executive character making up his own past. Deadspin, notably, called the story something like "baloney." Where I first saw the note at CBS in Chicago, it said Hamm had been "busted" for telling a "lie."

Update: Hamm responded to Deadspin, saying he didn't mean to say that Clemens, himself, was at Texas when he was there. But the sentiment of the story? He stands by. As do we. So THERE! Draper wins again!

Check out the interview and then we'll reconvene:

In case your Internet VCR is busted, here's the relevant part of the interview, in which Hamm says he was a "B-" grade catcher who "had way more brains than talent." (This is a humblebrag for the ages):

"I played through high school and was very good in high school and I ended up going to the University of Texas and thought, 'OK, I'm just gonna walk on. I'm gonna see how good these guys are.'

"They had a guy by the name of Roger Clemens there when I went to school."

Letterman interjects, asking: "You were a freshman, he was a senior?"

Hamm, shaking his head as if to say, "Something like that," blurts out: "Yeah. ... I was like, 'OK. No. Not gonna happen.' And I don't know if you've ever seen a ball travel that fast, but you don't really see it. It just appears in your mitt. And then it hurts. A lot."

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Jon Hamm is becoming a regular at the All-Star Game's celebrity softball event. (AP)

Here's how I interpret Hamm's anecdote: He tried out for the Texas team as a walk-on and happened to play catch with a guy — maybe it was Clemens, maybe it wasn't — who threw really hard.

It could have been Clemens, though, because he loves returning to Austin for functions; to help the team, to be seen and admired, whatever. In Hamm's story, perhaps Clemens simply was helping out the program, testing out some of the new recruits.

Sounds perfectly plausible, right?

Hamm also mentioned that he plays in a baseball league now, and he is becoming a regular at Major League Baseball's All-Star Game celebrity softball event. If we still had MTV Rock 'n' Jock, he'd probably play that, too. He just wants to be one of the guys, you know?

OK, I admit it. Even though Hamm's Don Draper character is a deeply flawed man who cheats on his wife and lies for a living, I root for him anyway. OK? OK?! I want to believe Hamm played catch with Roger Clemens, and/or is just a tad mixed up about when Clemens attended Texas.

Or maybe Hamm played catch with Shane Reynolds instead. That's possible, isn't it? That would be cool. Just not as cool as Clemens.

Man, if Roger Sterling or Betty find out about this, he's gonna get it.

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