Saturday, June 03, 2006

CLEMENTE by David Maraniss

Kam McHugh reviews CLEMENTE: The Passion and Grace of Baseball's Last Hero by David Maraniss (Simon & Schuster, 2006).

Roberto Clemente’s name has always been associated with pride, dignity, and excellence on and off the field. David Maraniss’ new biography furthers this conception of Clemente. The book not only chronicles his life – focusing mostly on his baseball years – but it also looks at the times and the man that lived in them. Maraniss does a good job of looking at the social conditions from the eyes of a black Latin baseball player in the 50s and 60s. Particularily interesting are his contrasts between racial conditions in Puerto Rico, Pittsburgh, and Fort Meyers, FL (Pirates’ Spring Training facility).

The author doesn’t paint Clemente as a saint – he is given to moodiness and a quick temper. But he does a good job of portraying the ballplayer’s side of the argument – which was often overlooked by the primarily non-Spanish speaking, white media of the 50s and 60s.

Clemente will be enjoyed by baseball fans, humanitarians and those who love an underdog story.

Kam McHugh, Randolph Branch Library


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