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

Written by:
David Maraniss
Narrated by:
David Maraniss

Abridged Audiobook

Release Date
April 2006
5 hours 45 minutes
Discover the remarkable life of Roberto Clemente—one of the most accomplished—and beloved—baseball heroes of his generation from Pulitzer Prize winner David Maraniss.

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, a book destined to become a modern classic. Much like his acclaimed biography of Vince Lombardi, When Pride Still Mattered, Maraniss uses his narrative sweep and meticulous detail to capture the myth and a real man.

Anyone who saw Clemente, as he played with a beautiful fury, will never forget him. He was a work of art in a game too often defined by statistics. During his career with the Pittsburgh Pirates, he won four batting titles and led his team to championships in 1960 and 1971, getting a hit in all fourteen World Series games in which he played. His career ended with three-thousand hits, the magical three-thousandth coming in his final at-bat, and he and the immortal Lou Gehrig are the only players to have the five-year waiting period waived so they could be enshrined in the Hall of Fame immediately after their deaths.

There is delightful baseball here, including thrilling accounts of the two World Series victories of Clemente’s underdog Pittsburgh Pirates, but this is far more than just another baseball book. Roberto Clemente was that rare athlete who rose above sports to become a symbol of larger themes. Born near the canebrakes of rural Carolina, Puerto Rico, on August 18, 1934, at a time when there were no blacks or Puerto Ricans playing organized ball in the United States, Clemente went on to become the greatest Latino player in the major leagues. He was, in a sense, the Jackie Robinson of the Spanish-speaking world, a ballplayer of determination, grace, and dignity who paved the way and set the highest standard for waves of Latino players who followed in later generations and who now dominate the game.

The Clemente that Maraniss evokes was an idiosyncratic character who, unlike so many modern athletes, insisted that his responsibilities extended beyond the playing field. In his final years, his motto was that if you have a chance to help others and fail to do so, you are wasting your time on this earth. Here, in the final chapters, after capturing Clemente’s life and times, Maraniss retraces his final days, from the earthquake to the accident, using newly uncovered documents to reveal the corruption and negligence that led the unwitting hero on a mission of mercy toward his untimely death as an uninspected, overloaded plane plunged into the sea.
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Crompton B.

Never a particular fan of authors reading their own work, (exception Ken Dryden on hockey), found that eventually the narration delivered on the promise of the title. I was fortunate to see Clemente play in person at Crosley Field in Cincinnati, even his warm up throws in right were on a line and no lollipops! The level of detail was impressive and the story that most captured his magic for me was not a home run or dart from the corner to nail a runner. His description of laying off a low and away pitch and "saving it for later" when he needed it in the 1971 Series really captured his HOF level of play.

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I learned a lot about an important figure before my time.

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Having grown up in Pittsburgh and seeing Roberto Clemente play- I was amazed at the memories the author was able to stir up as the book unfolded. Names, places and events. It was like a trip back in time. I thought he did a great job of keeping things factual yet interesting enough that you wanted to see what was next. It is a sad story in many ways. The author does a very nice job of bringing out information that was new informtion for me. It is a great personal story even if you were not a Pirate's fan.

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Great insight to both Clemente and the era he lived in. Definitely a historical account and not an edge of your seat story. I felt the narrator was a little dry.

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