Tuesday, January 1, 2013

"...a ballplayer who gave all he had to give."

One of the great things about classic broadcasts surviving is that it allows our minds to be adjusted properly to the actuality of how history unfolded.  For all the times someone from an earlier generation says, "no one could hit 'em like the Mick" or "hitters were afraid of Hoot", the footage speaks for itself.  The deification of players long gone must face the eye test.

That is in respect to their accomplishments in the game.  For some men, their legend grows not just because of how they played the game but rather how they lived their lives.  In that respect, Roberto Clemente deserves every bit of praise he has heaped on him.

While he spent much of his career lambasted as a 'whiner' about physical ailments, Clemente as the player was as great as they come.  Hidden in baseball siberia, the Pirates OF'er was a four time batting champion and NL MVP.  He twice won the World Series and was such a superb defensive OF'er that he won the Gold Glove every year from 1961 until his death.   There is no questioning Clemente's talent.

His legacy as a man is far greater.  Clemente tragically died 40 years ago this past New Year's Eve in an overloaded supply plane headed for Nicaragua that crashed shortly after take-off.  A national hero in Puerto Rico, Clemente was often long winded and full of fire when talking about a whole variety of things related to the game of baseball.  As proud as a man humbled by God could be, Clemente was a ballplayer who embraced his adopted city of Pittsburgh so much so that according to Myron Cope's 1966 Sports Illustrated feature, he pushed his teammates to play better because he felt "we owe these people another pennant."

Clemente truly was a one of a kind player and his baseball legacy, as well as that of a good man, deserves to live on.

Listed below are the known (mostly) complete games of Clemente's career:

  • 1960 World Series Game 7 (Bing Crosby kinescope) - MLB Productions DVD
  • 1965 All-Star Game (AFN kinescope) - MLB Network broadcast
  • September 2, 1970: Pirates vs Expos (CBC kinescope) - MLB Network broadcast
  • 1971 All-Star Game (color) - available in trading community
  • 1971 World Series Games 1-7 (color) - Game 7 available on iTunes

There are some other partials out there, such as Opening Day 1972 between Pirates and Mets, but this is the whole of what I can remember is out there for The Great One.  As I've documented here before, we have the July 2nd and July 3rd, 1971 vs the Cubs color clips from a WGN broadcast.

If you have any others, please feel free to share.

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