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

4.13  ·  Rating details ·  4,654 ratings  ·  226 reviews
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 Las ...more
Hardcover, 401 pages
Published April 25th 2006 by Simon & Schuster
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Average rating 4.13  · 
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 ·  4,654 ratings  ·  226 reviews

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Mar 29, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Happy Birthday, Roberto Clemente. Today you would have been 86. Baseball still misses you!

We are in the midst of a global health crisis and told to stay home. Every place I would normally go is closed from the car wash to my most important errand of the weekend: the library. I look forward to my trips to the library all week but for the time being, borrowing books is not an option, so I am using this quality time to read the neglected books on my home shelves. During this pandemic, we have been
Jun 25, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: baseball
Clemente by David Maraniss

This biography was written by the Pulitzer acclaimed author David Maraniss. I previously read his biographies on Vince Lombardi and Bill Clinton. Both were 5 star material and I consider them amongst my favorites.

In this book on Clemente we learn early on about the racism that fueled Clemente beginning in the 1950’s in Puerto Rico and escalating in the Jim Crow era minor leagues in Florida. We hear of the rocket caliber arm in the outfield that brought him to Branch Ric
Barnabas Piper
Dec 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Beautiful story of a remarkable man

I knew little of Clemente the man before reading this book and only a bit more about him as a ball player - amazing throwing arm, great bad ball hitter, etc. But this book opened my eye to his depth and quality as a man and the lengths he went to to care for his home nation. Not only that, Maraniss wrote it brilliantly. It's one of the best biographies I've read.
Doreen Petersen
Dec 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: sports
A book that just blew me away about a life and talent that was cut far too short.
Clark Hallman
Sep 02, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: baseball, biography
Clemente, by David Maraniss, is an excellent biography of Roberto Clemente. I have admired Roberto Clemente since I was a child and I still believe he was one of the greatest baseball players of all time. I was a hugh baseball fan (Pirates fan) from about age 8 through my 20s. I was lucky enough to see Clemente play at Forbes Field a few times when my boys baseball program in Hollidaysburg, PA provided bus "field trips" to a game in Pittsburgh each summer. Later, during the first few years I was ...more
Harold Kasselman
David Maraniss wrote a well written, concise, and straight forward account of Latin America's first super star baseball player Roberto Clemente. Frankly, I knew quite a bit about Clement because that was part of the golden era of baseball, a time that I grew my sprouts. What I liked most was the honesty of the portrayal. Clearly Clement was not without personality flaws. He was, as Maranis concedes, moody, menacingly aloof at times in his younger professional days,a hypochondriac, obsessively co ...more
Kevin Halloran
Apr 26, 2019 added it
Shelves: 2019
A great, well-written biography on a fascinating player. A very personal look at the passions and character of a player under-appreciated in his time but honored in his legacy. I found it eerily strange there were many ‘predictors’ (or at least coincidental moments) of the untimely death of Clemente—his own strange remarks, dreams of others, even a song stuck in his mother’s head.
May 31, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2018-non-fiction
It's a joy to pick up a baseball book at the start of the new season. Last year I adopted the Pittsburgh Pirates as my favorite team and I decided to learn more about their history. After browsing a few titles I landed on this biography of Roberto Clemente, Pittsburgh's most legendary player, and was off to the ballpark.

I realized quickly that I didn't know much about Clemente, other than that he was a magnificent hitter, a strong-armed right fielder and that he died in a plane crash (sorry for
Nov 16, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: biography, sports
There were parts of this book that didn't interest me and I found myself easily laying it down and reading something else. It took me over 2 weeks to finish because until the last third I didn't have that urge to know what happened next. I found the baseball part a little boring and enjoyed the personal stuff. Those who know me will be shocked to know I found anything about baseball boring. Perhaps it was because he played for the Pirates which is one of my least favorite team or perhaps it was ...more
Jul 19, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Roberto Clemente played professional baseball as well or better than many of his contemporaries who are today considered to be legends of the game. Many of those other legends were better known by the public at- large back then, partly because Clemente played for an underachieving team from the other, blue collar, Pennsylvania city with a pro ball club. For this reason, he never enjoyed the personal stardom or higher pay players were making in other markets. Nevertheless, as David Maraniss write ...more
Anup Sinha
Nov 18, 2018 rated it really liked it
It’s one of those books you know is going to have a horribly depressing ending but you read it anyway because you want to understand the man and what happened. Remarkable that Roberto Clemente lived barely 38 years and still made such an impact on his sport and on his society. Maraniss does a fine job humanizing someone whose image is that of a saintly freak athlete. The book is both well-researched and well-written.

I am particularly enlightened and disturbed of the events surrounding Clemente’s
Liz De Coster
May 22, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: biography, sports
Maraniss is a sensitive writer, capable of creating a nuanced portrait of an icon. The book is a slightly uneasy blend of history and journalism, and each part brought strengths and also challenges to the overall work.
He uses the Pittsburgh Courier to discuss the importance of black newspapers in covering black sports and athletes, contrasting the coverage of Clemente and other black and/or Latin players in that and other Pittsburgh papers serving the white communities; however, there are years
Jashvina Shah
Jul 30, 2019 rated it liked it
The subject material is great. The presentation of said material, however, not so much.

This is a classic example of how one does and extensive amount of research... and then puts everything learned into the book. You’re not supposed to do that. Context is important, but the context here became tangents and diatribes on occurrences that aren’t important. If I wanted to read a book about the Pirates, I would pick up a book about the Pirates. This results in a bogged down and disjointed narrative.
Kurt Larson
Apr 10, 2020 rated it it was amazing
6 stars out of 5. Amazing story of an amazing man and baseball player. Maraniss did his homework and it shows.
Scott Holstad
Oct 20, 2013 rated it really liked it
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 ar
Aaron Million
This was an uneven flowing book. Maraniss skips certain time periods without any explanation. Example: the 1967 season is not even mentioned. Yet, Clemente had won the 1966 NL MVP. I would like to know why 1967 did not even get a nod from Maraniss. The time from when Clemente was a young boy up to when he went to Montreal to play minor league baseball for the Dodgers is not really discussed. What went on then?

Maraniss does not delve into Clemente's relationships with most of the people in his l
Cheryl Gatling
I wanted to read about Roberto Clemente after he was mentioned in a Freakonomics episode about how we speak of the dead. Clemente was used an example of a man who may have been complicated in life, but became sanctified in memory because of his death in the service of humanity. Freakonomics suggested that perhaps Clemente was not really such a great baseball player, or perhaps great at times, but not putting in 100% all the time. The Clemente of Maraniss's book was a great ball player all the ti ...more
Nov 27, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: baseball, biography
This story is true to the book's subtitle "The Passion and Grace of Baseball's Last Hero." It is well researched and the portrait it paints shows he lived as a devoted family man, world class athlete and a compassionate humanitarian, but was a proud man who found it difficult to suffer criticism. Clemente was a man who maximized his potential in all of it's many facets.

He made a deep impression on his teammates. Steve Blass said, "The rest of us were just players. Clemente was a prince." (pg. 25
Kev Willoughby
Mar 10, 2020 rated it really liked it
"The thirteenth of October was another dreamy day in western Pennsylvania, with a summery haze and temperatures in the low seventies. It was a weekday in Pittsburgh, a Thursday, yet the city had the feel of an August vacation weekend. Thousands of children stayed home from school to watch the final game of the World Series on television." - David Maraniss

It was 1960, and the Pirates were on the cusp of their first World Series Championship since the days of Pie Traynor in 1925. Throughout most o
David Corleto-Bales
Sep 29, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Poignant, sad, moving story of the greatest right fielder of his generation, Roberto Clemente, Puerto Rican national hero and star player of the Pittsburgh Pirates from 1955 to 1972. Clemente struggled with being overlooked by the national media due to his small-market team and the assumption that Latin players were gold-bricks. Typically they quoted him in broken English or called him "dramatic" or "emotional". Great descriptions of the 1960 and 1971 World Series', which the Pirates won, (Cleme ...more
Oct 24, 2012 rated it really liked it
I personally thought that this book was amazing. It showed the struggles of a puerto rican baseball player trying to make it to the major leagues of baseball. I recommend this book to anyone that wishes to become a MLB player. Just to have a taste of how hard it was to become one back in the day. The author paints a picture in your mind by giving so many details and it just feels as if you were siting in front of "Clemente" (the main character) during this story. ...more
Robert Vincent
Mar 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This account of the life and accomplishments of the beloved hall of fame baseball hero brought me back to my youth as a fan of the game. Clemente, himself was one of my favorite stars of the game and the author of this book gave me so much to enhance my appreciation of the player, and so much more of the character of the man. Clemente indeed had his rough points and flaws which were reported in the pages of the book. However, the true heart of Roberto Clemente was shown to overshadow those idios ...more
Bryton Jackson
Feb 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing
this was a great book the story of roberto clemente is one of the best about a baseball players, he was a great baseball player and an even greater man outside of baseball towards people and his community, it goes to show by the way he passed away in that plane crash, he was going to the islands to help people and on his way back from helping them to get more supplies to help them more he unfortunately passed away on the crash along with the other people on the plane, his legacy of greatness on ...more
Apr 01, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
I read David Maraniss' Clemente: The Passion and Grace of Baseball's Last Hero, which I liked quite a bit. Clemente was larger than life even while alive.

Clemente was peevish and tended toward whiny. But that wasn't without reason because he had suffered segregation and discrimination. He didn't get endorsements the way white players did. He didn't get the same accolades (though in part that's because the Pirates were not a big market team). Even worse, and Maraniss comes back to it numerous tim
Aug 03, 2018 rated it really liked it
If the book's subtitle doesn't give it away, Maraniss is clearly a Clemente uber fan, but the portrait he paints in these 16 chapters and addenda is well-balanced and thoroughly researched. He presents the player as an athlete of unusual abilities, one who had a dominating love of the game, yes, but also as a man who could sometimes be thin-skinned, hot-headed, and petulant--often understandably because he had to deal with the injustices of Jim Crow segregation and racial quotas that were part o ...more
Shane Schirmer
Jan 13, 2021 rated it really liked it
What a wonderful biography! I thought Mr. Maraniss did a fine job of introducing the reader to Roberto Clemente the man, in addition to Roberto Clemente the baseball player. So many wonderful aspects of Clemente's life that I was unaware of. His friendships with young teenagers, and how he took these kids under his wing. His inability to sleep, and how he had to combat that on a daily basis. His never losing sight of his humanity, and that need to help others.
The only thing that kept this from b
Mar 11, 2018 rated it liked it
A reminder that good writing in any genre is worth reading and that I should add more sports books to my queue. To me, what makes good sports writing is that an author can also capture the context of the times and this author does a good job at this.
In particular, he was able to capture the rampant racism that faced Clemente and other Latin and black players during spring training and the less overt (but still there) racism that carried on into the north in the 1960s. In today's terms, it's sho
Jul 06, 2018 rated it really liked it
I knocked it a star because the author falls into the same trap that many who wrote about baseball fall into: going game-by-game in telling a narrative. For a player not really defined by World Series championships, he falls into the rut of going inning by inning of the 1960 and 1971 Series and almost forgetting Clemente. I think there are more compelling ways to set the stage while doing it from Clemente’s point of view. He also digresses later detailing notes about the Steelers and the Immacul ...more
Michael Huntone
Oct 05, 2020 rated it liked it
Listened to this on audio. Sometimes I love it when an author reads their own books... other times they really need a pro to handle it. For me, this was definitely the latter. I just had a hard time staying interested in this book, and I think some of it had to do with the narrator. It just felt dry, and I just never truly got into it, which is surprising as Clemente is one of my favorite baseball players ever. As for the writing, it was good, but definitely felt like a 400 page newspaper articl ...more
Ted Daniels
Nov 26, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: old-non-fiction
This book is more than a biography of a sports hero. Mr. Maraniss explores racism in baseball and in the deep South in the 1950's and 60's. He tracks the entrance of players from Puerto Rico and Central America into major league baseball. For Pirates fans, he provides a game by game recap of the Bucs inspiring win over the heavily favored Yankees in the 1960 World Series (Mazeroski's walk-off homer in Game 7), and also the 1971 victory over the Orioles. There are lots of behind the scenes observ ...more
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David Maraniss is an associate editor at The Washington Post and the author of four critically acclaimed and bestselling books, When Pride Still Mattered: A Life of Vince Lombardi, First in His Class: A Biography of Bill Clinton, They Marched Into Sunlight War and Peace, Vietnam and America October 1967, and Clemente The Passion and Grace of Baseballs Last Hero. He is also the author of The Clinto ...more

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