A family’s recollection of a baseball, and humanitarian, legend.
When Roberto Clemente (1934–1972) died in a plane crash on New Year’s Eve in 1972, he was delivering emergency supplies to Nicaragua, which had just suffered catastrophic earthquakes. Clemente was a Hall of Fame outfielder for the Pittsburgh Pirates and represented to Latin baseball players what Jackie Robinson did to African-American players. But he was also deeply committed to humanitarian causes, to which he planned to devote his post-playing life. Effectively an oral history and scrapbook, the book is unabashedly hagiographic. CBSSports.com writer Mike Freeman compiles the memories of the Clemente family, including Roberto’s sons, wife and brothers, as well as other oral testimonies and journalistic accounts of Clemente’s life and career. The book traces Clemente’s life from his roots in Puerto Rico, a territory to which he remained devoted, through his career with the Pirates, for which he earned the National League MVP in 1966. He was also a 15-time All-Star and won 12 Gold Glove awards and four batting titles. The dozens of pictures and the family reminiscences capture Clemente the player and the man. One can only wonder what Clemente could have accomplished on the field, but especially off of it, had he only survived to continue the work to which he had increasingly come to devote his life. As he remarked in 1971 after receiving the Tris Speaker Award, “If you have a chance to accomplish something that will make things better for people coming behind you, and you don’t do that, you are wasting your time on this Earth.”
This loving family biography of a husband, father, baseball player, pioneer and crusader for justice serves as a fitting tribute to a truly great man. For a fuller portrait, pair with David Maraniss’ Clemente (2006).