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Pulitzer Prize winner David Maraniss’s brilliant rendering of the life of one of baseball’s most iconic figures captures both myth and man in daunting sweep and meticulous detail.

On New Year’s Eve 1972, beloved Pittsburgh Pirate Roberto Clemente died a hero’s death, killed in a plane crash while attempting to deliver food and medical supplies to Nicaragua after a devastating earthquake. His career ended with four batting titles, two World Series championships, and three thousand hits; he and the immortal Lou Gehrig are the only players in history to have the five-year waiting period waived so they could be enshrined in the Hall of Fame immediately after their deaths.

But Clemente was also that rare athlete who rose above sports to become a symbol of larger themes. Born at a time when there were no players of color in American baseball, Clemente went on to become the greatest Latino player in the major leagues. With determination, grace, and dignity, he paved the way and set the highest standard for his peers both on and off the field: his famous motto was “If you have a chance to help others and fail to do so, you are wasting your time on this earth.” The end of the book reveals the corruption and negligence that led Clemente toward his untimely death as an uninspected, overloaded plane plunged into the sea.

Topics: Baseball

Published: Simon & Schuster on Mar 26, 2013
ISBN: 9781476748016
List price: $13.99
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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.read more
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
The writing is stodgy and I don't think he made you feel the excitement. Clemente was a nut & there are too many details of his nuttiness. It got interesting at the end -- the '71 series, the earthquake, the plane, the death. And last hero? What about David Ortiz? Or Ichiro?read more
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
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.read more
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
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.read more
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
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.read more
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
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.read more
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
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.read more
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
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.read more
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
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I 5
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
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.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
The writing is stodgy and I don't think he made you feel the excitement. Clemente was a nut & there are too many details of his nuttiness. It got interesting at the end -- the '71 series, the earthquake, the plane, the death. And last hero? What about David Ortiz? Or Ichiro?
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
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.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
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.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
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.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
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.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
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.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
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.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
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