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Clemente: The Passion and Grace of Baseball's Last Hero

Clemente: The Passion and Grace of Baseball's Last Hero

Written by David Maraniss

Narrated by David Maraniss


Clemente: The Passion and Grace of Baseball's Last Hero

Written by David Maraniss

Narrated by David Maraniss

ratings:
4/5 (9 ratings)
Length:
5 hours
Released:
Apr 25, 2006
ISBN:
9780743554145
Format:
Audiobook

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Also available as bookBook

Also available as...

Also available as bookBook

Description

On New Year's Eve 1972, following eighteen magnificent seasons in the major leagues, Roberto Clemente died a hero's death, killed in a plane crash as he attempted to deliver food and medical supplies to Nicaragua after a devastating earthquake. David Maraniss now brings the great baseball player brilliantly back to life in Clemente: The Passion and Grace of Baseball's Last Hero.

Maraniss offers thrilling accounts of Clemente's underdog Pirates' two World Series victories, but Clemente is for more than just another baseball book. Roberto Clemente was a work of art in a game too often defined by statistics. He was also that rare athlete who rose above sports to become a symbol of larger themes, the Jackie Robinson of the Spanish-speaking world, who paved the way for waves of Latino players who followed in later generations.

The Clemente that Maraniss evokes was a ballplayer of determination, grace, and dignity who insisted that his responsibilities extended beyond the playing field. With narrative sweep and meticulous detail, Clemente captures the myth and the real man, and retraces his final days, using newly uncovered documents to reveal the corruption and negligence that led the unwitting hero on a mission of mercy toward his untimely death.
Released:
Apr 25, 2006
ISBN:
9780743554145
Format:
Audiobook

Also available as...

Also available as bookBook

About the author

David Maraniss is an associate editor at The Washington Post and a distinguished visiting professor at Vanderbilt University. He has won two Pulitzer Prizes for journalism and was a finalist three other times. Among his bestselling books are biographies of Bill Clinton, Barack Obama, Roberto Clemente, and Vince Lombardi, and a trilogy about the 1960s—Rome 1960; Once in a Great City (winner of the RFK Book Prize); and They Marched into Sunlight (winner of the J. Anthony Lucas Prize and Pulitzer Finalist in History). A Good American Family is his twelfth book.


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What people think about Clemente

4.2
9 ratings / 8 Reviews
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  • (4/5)
    I became a Pirates fan when I moved from Canada to Pittsburgh in 1971 as a small boy with my family. I don’t remember much of Roberto Clemente, but I remember how huge he was in the city. Willie Stargell was my favorite Pirate. Still, I remember when Clemente died on New Year’s Eve, 1972, and what a shock it was to the world, to the baseball community, and to Pittsburgh, and what a sense of loss it brought.Maraniss writes a pretty good book about Clemente. It’s not perfect, but the highlights are well written and one learns a lot about the man. Coming from Puerto Rico up to Montreal, in the minors, around 1954 was a huge shock for him, and then when the Pirates drafted him from the minors in 1955, it continued to be a culture shock for him, not only as a Latino player, but as a black Latino player. Since Spring Training was in Florida, Clemente was exposed first hand to Jim Crowe laws and couldn’t stay with the team, eat with the team, do anything but stay in the “colored” sections of towns and play ball. He wasn’t an immediate star, but he was obviously talented. He had a rocket for an arm and played a mean right field. He could hit fairly well, and with some power. He was primed for stardom.By the time 1960 rolled around, the Pirates had risen from mediocre to National League champs, but they had to play the dreaded Yankees (with Mantle and Maris) in the World Series. And NY bombed Pittsburgh in three games by huge margins. Nonetheless, Pittsburgh won three games too, setting up a seventh and deciding game. The game was tied going into the ninth inning. Finally, at the end of the ninth inning, Bill Mazeroski hit a home run out of the park in one of the most famous moments in Pittsburgh sports history, winning the Series for the Pirates. It was the “shot heard round the world,” and to this day, is probably the most readily remembered World Series home run. For the Series, Clemente hit safely in every game.Now my complaint with the author comes into play. He basically skips entire seasons after that Series. The 1967 season isn’t even mentioned, and Clemente was the 1966 National League MVP. You’d think Maraniss would want to follow up on that. Also, while we learn about Clemente’s tempestuous relationship with the press, who really never truly understood him, we don’t get as much on his relationship with the team, such as his manager Danny Murtaugh. It would have been nice to read more about their interactions. Finally, we come to another good chapter – the one on the 1971 World Series against Baltimore, a team with four 20 game winning pitchers. By this time, Clemente was the old man on the team, but he hit safely in all seven games of this Series too, and was named Series MVP as Pittsburgh won another World Series.In all, Clemente finished his career with a .317 batting average, 3000 hits, four N.L. batting titles, 12 Gold Gloves, the 1966 National League MVP, the 1971 World Series MVP, and was the first Latino elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame.At the end of 1972, there was a devastating earthquake in Nicaragua, a country where Clemente had just managed the Puerto Rican national team in a playoffs. He was determined to help the people and helped gather over $100,000 and hundreds of tons of supplies to take to Nicaragua for disaster relief. Unfortunately, he put his trust in a shady character who had a plane he contracted out. This guy had 66 FAA violations and couldn’t even fly the plane, even though he was the co-pilot. The pilot had 12 violations and was exhausted from a trip he had just taken. Additionally, the plane was in bad shape and had been wrecked just two weeks before. Finally, it was overloaded by something like 4,500 pounds. It could barely lift off the ground. Nonetheless, Clemente said goodbye to his wife and three boys, took off, and never made it, as the planed crashed into the ocean shortly after takeoff, smashing everything to smithereens. His body was never found.Roberto Clemente was the pride of the Latino world, could have ruled Puerto Rico, was much loved by kids around the world, who he related to quite well, and had millions of fans everywhere. While he didn’t always get along with the press, they decided to do something that had only been done once before – bypass the five year minimum requirement of being away from baseball for election into the Baseball Hall of Fame (the other player was Lou Gehrig), and he was elected 11 weeks after his death.It’s a good book, even though it does leave details out. (Why did Clemente give one of his Silver Slugger awards to announcer Bob Prince?) It’s well researched and documented and it sheds light on one of the greatest athletes of our time. Clemente will never be forgotten, and I certainly recommend this book.
  • (4/5)
    I wasn't sure I would finish this biography after the first chapter or two, it seemed fairly standard fair, but the book deepend and matured as it followed the great outfielder's life. I was profoundly moved by the last half of the book.
  • (4/5)
    It's hard to believe that it will be 39 years this New Year's Eve since an overloaded plane carrying Roberto Clemente fell into the ocean off the coast of his native Puerto Rico, the athlete's body lost to the sea. This biography of the baseball great is not perfect. It's a little too long, and a little too heavy on the hero worship -- though the title gives fair warning of that perspective. The reality is that despite Clemente's flaws -- and the author does admit that there were some -- it's hard not to lapse into some hero worship regarding Clemente. The baseball stats alone are enough to dazzle -- 12 consecutive Golden Glove awards, 3000 base hits, .317 lifetime batting average. His untimely death at age 38 in a plane crash while personally escorting relief supplies to earthquake victims in Nicaragua -- well, that says a lot about the humanitarian aspect of the man, and why he is so admired.Author David Maraniss does a good job helping to explain Clemente's life and character in the context of the times in which he lived. He gives insights into the factors which influenced Clemente's actions on and off the field, and those factors which influenced the perceptions of him by the the American media of his time. He reminds us of the impact of the language barrier and racial prejudice, especially in the earlier years of Clemente's career.Maraniss also gives a fascinating account of the circumstances which led to the plane crash -- again, placing the tragedy solidly in the context of other events which were taking place at the time.The book could have used some editing, but overall it was a satisfying read.
  • (2/5)
    Clemente was in a class by himself, no doubt. But Maraniss' inability to turn off his childhood hero worship gets in the way of the story, instead of informing it.
  • (4/5)
    Roberto Clemente (1934-1972), the first Latino superstar of professional baseball played in the United States, was elected to the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame soon after his tragic death in a dangerous and overloaded airplane on the last day of the year, en route to bringing earthquake relief supplies from Puerto Rico to Nicaragua. Clemente died as he lived, a man who passionately loved his countrymen and fellow Latinos regardless of their skin color, particularly those who didn't have the opportunities he did.He was in the twilight of his career at the end of the 1972 season, having collected his 3,000th hit on his last at bat as a Pittsburgh Pirate, an accomplishment that only 10 other men had achieved before him. He was finally at peace with himself, after suffering innumerable slights and insults throughout his career, by managers and fellow players who didn't understand or appreciate him, racial segregation and deplorable living conditions during spring training in Florida, and sportswriters who twisted and phoneticized his Spanish-flavored words in demeaning and hurtful articles. He led the Pirates to two World Series, and was respected and feared as one of the most dangerous clutch hitters in baseball, who ran as if he was being chased by demons and threw out runners regularly from his right field position due to a strong and deadly accurate arm. A complex man who wore his emotions on his sleeves, he would regularly berate and harangue reporters for seemingly innocent questions, yet he would routinely sign autographs for his fans long after his teammates had left the ballpark, and gave freely of himself to anyone he could help, including the poor of San Juan and surrounding towns in Puerto Rico and fans who he embraced and treated as if they were his own family. Clemente spent his winters playing in Puerto Rico and throughout the Caribbean and Latin America while other major leaguers were resting, to give back to those Latinos who could not see him play in Pittsburgh, and to honor the Latino players that came before him but could not display their talents in the United States, due to their skin color or language barrier. He worshiped his wife, children and parents above all else, and never forgot or forsake his roots as a kid growing up in a poor town outside of San Juan. He was beloved by fans of all races and backgrounds throughout the United States, for his skill, passion for the game, and the love he gave to every fan that supported him. (As a side note, he was one of my favorite players as a kid, along with Hank Aaron, Willie Mays and Bob Gibson, and my friends and I would routinely mimic the neck stretches he did before every at bat.)David Maraniss does an excellent job in honoring and fully describing Roberto Clemente, a complicated and imperfect man who continues to be viewed as a hero in Puerto Rico, other countries in Latin America, and the city of Pittsburgh, as a pioneer who overcome physical pain and personal strife to become one of baseball's greatest and most beloved figures. However, the book was overly repetitive and about 50-100 pages too long, which diluted its impact somewhat. Despite this, I would highly recommend this book, certainly to baseball fans but also to anyone who would enjoy a well written biography about an influential and beloved man.
  • (5/5)
    I really enjoyed this excellent biography of Roberto Clemente, who I have admired since I was a child and who I still believe was one of the greatest baseball players of all time. I was a hugh baseball fan (Pirate fan) from about age 8 through my 20s. I was lucky enough to see Clemente play at Forbes Field a few times when my little league program (technically not little league, but boys baseball program in Hollidaysburg) provided bus "field trips" to a game in Pittsuburh each summer. Later for the first few years when I was a student at Pitt (Forbes Field was on the Pitt campus) I attended many Pirate games where we sat in the bleacher seats in left field for a few dollars. In July 1970, the Pirates moved to Three Rivers Stadium and I attended a few games there although it was more expensive and not as convenient. I wore Clemente's number when I played VFW baseball as a teenager. I was still a student at Pitt in the Fall of 1971 when the Pirates won the World Series against the Baltimore Orioles on October 17th in Memorial Stadium in Baltimore and I was part of a huge celebration the filled the streets of Pittsburgh. Clemente was voted Most Valuable Player for that World Series. Unfortunately, I could not afford to attend any of those series games. This book reveals many details about Clemente's personal life as well as providing much detailed information about his eighteen seasons in the major league. Each season is covered including details about significant individual games. I particularly enjoyed the coverage of information about Clemente's relationships with other Pirate players, with Bob Prince (the voice of the Pirates), and with the sports press, who often misinterpreted his pride in himself, his race and his country. Also, it was great to read the detailed coverage of every game of the 1960 and 1971 World Series when the Pirates prevailed to become World Champions. Of course the tragic end of Clemente's life on December 31, 1972 due to the unethical and careless business practices of the air freight company and the failure of FAA safety policies and procedures brought back sad memories of Momen. However he died a hero's death in an attempt to help the people of Nicaragua after a devastating earthquake.
  • (5/5)
    Clemente was one of my heroes from childhood, a wonderful hitter and fielder, and clearly a leader to the Pirates. However, he was a mystery figure, someone I knew little about. Maraniss's portrait of Clemente creates a three dimensional image of the baseball star-a ground breaking Puerto Rican standout who bristled at his perceived mistreatment of latin and black ballplayers. Isolated by and misquoted due to his command of English, Clemente emerges as a proud player, confident in his abilities, and willing to speak his mind--sometimes without considering the consequences. A great book, almost impossible to put down.
  • (5/5)
    Another excellent biography by David Maraniss. The detail that Maraniss has in his book is exemplary. Especially of the events that lead up to the ultimate death of Clemente. The biography is easy to read and has a good flow that won't get you bogged down. The ending made it hard to put down even though you knew Clemente's ultimate fate. Maraniss is a great biographical writer and should continue writing more biography's. He is a can't miss read author.