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Sunday, May 28, 2006

Roberto Clemente Walker

Eligible in 1978.

John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: May 28, 2006 at 06:51 PM | 152 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   1. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: May 28, 2006 at 07:19 PM (#2041262)
Yeah, he's overrated, but he'll be a HoMer shortly.
   2. OCF Posted: May 28, 2006 at 11:18 PM (#2041690)
What John just said. He's not what myth and popular opinion have made him out to be. He wouldn't have belonged on the "All-Century Team." But by our established standards for corner outfielders - see Wheat, Goslin, Flick, Slaughter - there's no doubt that he belongs.

He did make an impression on me at the very first major league game I ever attended - August 5, 1960. While on family vacation - really, a family reunion in central Pennsylvania - we (our family and lots of uncles and cousins) drove to Pittsburgh to see a game. Giants at Pirates, in the eyes of a 7-year old boy.

From retrosheet:

GIANTS 7TH: Mays made an out to right; Cepeda grounded out
(shortstop to first); Davenport made an out to right; 0 R, 0 H,
0 E, 0 LOB. Giants 0, Pirates 0.

PIRATES 7TH: ... 0 R, 1 H, 0 E, 1 LOB.
Giants 0, Pirates 0.

GIANTS 8TH: CIMOLI REPLACED CLEMENTE (PLAYING RF); ....


We were sitting on the first base side and from where we were sitting, we couldn't see into the right field corner. The way I remember it: Davenport's fly goes into the corner, into our blind spot. Clemente runs into the corner. Several men carry a stretcher into the corner and come out with Clemente. But the batter was out.
   3. OCF Posted: May 28, 2006 at 11:39 PM (#2041707)
Ah, Retrosheet proves my memory wrong. The last play in the Giants' 8th:

Rodgersdoubled to center [Rodgers out at third (center to third)]; 0 R,
1 H, 0 E, 0 LOB. Giants 0, Pirates 0.


In my memory banks, it was Mays that hit that ball, not Rodgers. Oh, well. On the other hand: as I remember it, the ball hit the wall in left center field on the fly (in Forbes Field!), and Virdon plucked the ball off the wall without letting it hit the ground, and made a perfect throw. If the ball really did travel that far, Mays would probably have beaten the throw.
   4. DavidFoss Posted: May 29, 2006 at 12:59 AM (#2041762)
Clemente simply was not a very good hitter at all for his first 2500 PA.

1955-59: 89 OPS+
1960-72:144 OPS+

For a guy who started young, he peaked quite late (age 32-35).
   5. Mike Emeigh Posted: May 29, 2006 at 01:11 AM (#2041773)
Both the AP and UPI articles on the play OCF referenced in #2 says that it occurred on Mays's ball, not Davenport's. Clemente received five stitches for a chin cut.

-- MWE
   6. Buzzards Bay Posted: May 29, 2006 at 01:32 AM (#2041786)
for my money what he did as a man and as a ballplayer at that time dwarfs any neo- analysis to the contrary
i know the numbers and i see the target the numbers present you
   7. Mike Emeigh Posted: May 29, 2006 at 01:59 AM (#2041808)
As far as Clemente being overrated: Clemente played the game as it had to be played in Forbes Field. Right-handed hitters weren't going to hit many home runs in that ball park - so Clemente used the whole park, hit doubles and triples and delivered double-digits in HRs. When he was asked to go for more power by Harry Walker in 1966, he went deep 29 times - a figure which was surpassed by a right-handed hitter only once in the history of Forbes Field when the park was playing at its full depth - still hit .317 with 202 hits, 105 runs scored, and 119 RBI - and won an MVP.

I think that applying today's standards to yesterday's players - without considering how the context of the game as it was played then might have affected the performance numbers of those players - can lead to a distorted view of a player's value *at the time he played*. Contemporary opinion should be a factor in evaluating players; it's not always right, but it's not always wrong, either.

-- MWE
   8. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: May 29, 2006 at 02:28 AM (#2041835)
As far as Clemente being overrated: Clemente played the game as it had to be played in Forbes Field. Right-handed hitters weren't going to hit many home runs in that ball park - so Clemente used the whole park, hit doubles and triples and delivered double-digits in HRs. When he was asked to go for more power by Harry Walker in 1966, he went deep 29 times - a figure which was surpassed by a right-handed hitter only once in the history of Forbes Field when the park was playing at its full depth - still hit .317 with 202 hits, 105 runs scored, and 119 RBI - and won an MVP.

I don't think many people would argue against that. The problem for him, in retrospect, was his hacking ways. His OBP was good, but not outstanding.

Contemporary opinion should be a factor in evaluating players; it's not always right, but it's not always wrong, either.

But it's really only useful to fill in the gaps. Just because they ignored walks means that we have to, Mike.

Of course, this discussion is moot since he'll be flying in in '78. The combination of his offense and defense will be more than enough for the electorate (including me) to vote him in easily.
   9. Mike Emeigh Posted: May 29, 2006 at 02:46 AM (#2041853)
Contemporary opinion should be a factor in evaluating players; it's not always right, but it's not always wrong, either.

But it's really only useful to fill in the gaps. Just because they ignored walks means that we have to, Mike.


No, but you need to consider how valuable they were to major league teams within the context of the game as it was played then - not within the context of the game as it was played later. If walks weren't considered a valuable commodity by major league teams then, it makes more sense to investigate "why" they were considered to be less valuable, rather than working from the 2004 assumption of value (or even the 1980s assumption). I don't start with the assumption that major league teams ignore or downplay something like walks because they don't know how valuable they are.

-- MWE
   10. Brandon in MO (Yunitility Infielder) Posted: May 29, 2006 at 03:50 AM (#2041913)
Random batting split

Clemente at Wrigley Field: 137 games, 177 for 531, 24 doubles, 6 triples, 25 homers, 101 RBI, .333/.391/.542

Although he also had 22 HR in 463 AB and 115 games at Crosley.
   11. OCF Posted: May 29, 2006 at 06:02 AM (#2042032)
Both the AP and UPI articles on the play OCF referenced in #2 says that it occurred on Mays's ball, not Davenport's. Clemente received five stitches for a chin cut.

Which might have something to do with me wrongly associating Mays with Virdon's play and throw the next inning. I was taking my cue from the Retrosheet summary, which put Cimoli entering the game in the next inning. I would have thought that Clemente left the game immediately. It could be that the game log is just a little slow recording the substitution.

And were there places in the Forbes Field stands from which you couldn't see into the right field corner? Or was it just me being to little to see over the other fans?

Even if we see him as a Wheat/Medwick/Flick/Slaughter/Magee/Simmons and not as an Ott/Robinson/Aaron, there's no danger of us not electing him.

And as for the 1960 Pirates - just how good was that defense, anyway? We're talking about Mazeroski on another thread. Virdon was awfully good, wasn't he? I suppose Clemente could have played center but they didn't need him to.
   12. Steve Treder Posted: May 29, 2006 at 06:24 AM (#2042043)
Clemente played the game as it had to be played in Forbes Field. Right-handed hitters weren't going to hit many home runs in that ball park - so Clemente used the whole park, hit doubles and triples and delivered double-digits in HRs. When he was asked to go for more power by Harry Walker in 1966, he went deep 29 times - a figure which was surpassed by a right-handed hitter only once in the history of Forbes Field when the park was playing at its full depth

Sorry, Mike, but I'm just not buying this line of argument.

First of all: actually that figure of 29 homers was surpassed by a RHB twice in the deep-left Forbes configuration, by Frank Thomas (35 in 1958) and Dick Stuart (35 in 1961). And Stuart hit 27 in 397 at-bats in 1959, and in the very season of 1966, Donn Clendenon hit 28. Yes, 29 HRs by a RHB in that Forbes configuration was quite impressiuve, but it isn't as though it was all that stupendous.

And second of all: what, did Walker tell Clemente to stop hitting for power following '66? Because he only reached 20 HRs one more time, and then with just 23. Clemente just wasn't a great home run hitter; of course Forbes hurt him in this regard, but his career split was 101-139. It wasn't all that severe. The notion that he could have been a big slugger and just chose not to be is simply not supported by the evidence.

No, but you need to consider how valuable they were to major league teams within the context of the game as it was played then - not within the context of the game as it was played later. If walks weren't considered a valuable commodity by major league teams then, it makes more sense to investigate "why" they were considered to be less valuable, rather than working from the 2004 assumption of value (or even the 1980s assumption). I don't start with the assumption that major league teams ignore or downplay something like walks because they don't know how valuable they are.

Where do we get the idea that walks "weren't considered a valuable commodity by major league teams then"? Lots of Clemente's contemporaries, from Mantle to Mathews to Gilliam to Santo to Wynn to Yastrzemski to Killebrew, and on and on, walked tons more than Clemente did, and that value was hardly unknown or unvalued by their teams. The notion that not only did walks somehow have less value in Clemente's time than before or since, and that people didn't comprehend their actual value, is just reaching for something that isn't there.

Clemente was a tremendous player. He completely belongs in the HOF, and he should sweep into the HOM with ease. But he needn't be made to be something better than what he was, and twisting oneself into logical knots in attempting to rationalize his limitations isn't the way to assess him.
   13. Joey Numbaz (Scruff) Posted: May 29, 2006 at 09:37 AM (#2042088)
While, I generally agree with Steve T.'s rebuttal regarding Clemente, I would say that in the 1960s walks were less valuable relatively speaking then they are today.

In lower run environments, walks aren't as valuable as they are in higher run environments. Keeping the chain going isn't nearly as important, becuase it's awfully hard to put together a sequential offense anyway, when the league is hitting .240. Power and speed go up in value in this kind of environment. Walks and singles go down.
   14. sunnyday2 Posted: May 29, 2006 at 11:21 AM (#2042100)
I have no idea if walks were/are as valuable in the '60s/low run environment. Certainly walks did not have the aura that they have today. And yet it is true that there were guys even then who walked a lot.

Clemente was not inner circle. The idea that he shoulda been on the all-century team is laughable. I am inclined to rate him behind Wilhelm, though I haven't figured that out yet for sure. But certainly Wilhelm was better (more uniquely skilled and valuable) at what he did than Clemente was at what he did.

But even a small BBWAA-sized Hall would have Clemente in it.
   15. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: May 29, 2006 at 11:29 AM (#2042103)
While, I generally agree with Steve T.'s rebuttal regarding Clemente, I would say that in the 1960s walks were less valuable relatively speaking then they are today.

True, but we are not talking about the Deadball Era here either. Besides, his OBP is not that impressive regardless.

Even if we see him as a Wheat/Medwick/Flick/Slaughter/Magee/Simmons and not as an Ott/Robinson/Aaron, there's no danger of us not electing him.

He should be in the 90th percentile easily.

If walks weren't considered a valuable commodity by major league teams then, it makes more sense to investigate "why" they were considered to be less valuable, rather than working from the 2004 assumption of value (or even the 1980s assumption). I don't start with the assumption that major league teams ignore or downplay something like walks because they don't know how valuable they are.

But we're trying to figure out how a player helped his team (or how much merit he achieved). To me, it's irrelevant (in this regard only) what contemporaries thought but what Clemente's actions did to win ball games. Of course, Win Shares or WARP doesn't tell the whole story, so looking what players and management thought about his clutch hitting and defense makes sense.

BTW Mike, I know how you feel. If someone was downgrading Tom Seaver as a pitcher, I would have a hard time taking it lying down. ;-)

Clemente just wasn't a great home run hitter; of course Forbes hurt him in this regard, but his career split was 101-139.

Yup, I just checked the Home Run Encyclopedia this morning. Stargell he wasn't as a slugger.
   16. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: May 29, 2006 at 11:32 AM (#2042107)
But certainly Wilhelm was better (more uniquely skilled and valuable) at what he did than Clemente was at what he did.

I'm leaning toward Wilhelm myself, Marc, but that shouldn't be taken as a slap in the face to the great Clemente.
   17. rawagman Posted: May 29, 2006 at 11:36 AM (#2042109)
Clemente is an interesting case.
In some lights, he is very much like a Minnie Minoso. In other respects, he looks like Banks/Sisler.
I won't start researchnig this weeks candidates in depth until Wednesday, probably, so I'll know more then.
   18. sunnyday2 Posted: May 29, 2006 at 11:37 AM (#2042110)
I recently looked at the players becoming eligible through 1990. This is pretty blunt, fine-tuning to come, but:

1.-10. Mays, Aaron, F. Robby, Morgan, Wilhelm, Bench, Yaz, Gibson, Kaline, Santo
11-20. McCovey, G. Perry, Allen, Killebrew, Banks, Palmer, Clemente, Stargell, Fergie, B. Robby
21-30. R. Smith, B. Williams, Torre, Freehan, Cepeda, Bunning, Marichal, F. Howard, Cash, Wynn
31-40. Bonds, Bando, Tiant, Pinson, Campy, Fregosi, Aparicio, Kaat, W. Davis, Singleton

Lots of great names, I mean, Dick Allen 13th, Bill Williams 22nd, Marichal 27th (!). So no offense to your favorite player. But being realistic, there are a few guys who are a bit overrated and Banks, Clemente and B. Williams would be on that list.

Underrated: Kaline, R. Smith, Freehan, F. Howard, Fregosi....
   19. rawagman Posted: May 29, 2006 at 11:44 AM (#2042116)
who underrated Al Kaline?
   20. Mark Shirk (jsch) Posted: May 29, 2006 at 12:56 PM (#2042143)
Twins fans, that's who....
   21. Howie Menckel Posted: May 29, 2006 at 01:11 PM (#2042150)
MWE,
You won't find much support here, I don't think, for the "when so and so was asked to ratchet up his [hrs, ks, sbs, etc], he did it" case.
Reminds me too much of the people who think that Jeter hits for a higher average in the playoffs, because the games are more important. Not true in the former, and first thing I'd do if the latter were true would be to try to convince him to pay more attention to ALL the games, lol. If Clemente could have hit more HRs while becoming more valuable overall, he should have.

As for the value of walks, that case could better be made for a fringe-HOM 1960s player being compared to a fringe-1990s player in a 2005 election, for instance.
Meanwhile, as Murphy notes, we are trying to assess the value of what Clemente actually did. A player who hits lots of doubles and triples has tremendous value to us, maybe even more than a guy who hits a lot of HRS and singles.

I am old enough to remember having seen Clemente play. Some of the contemporary opinion of him is based on his extraordinary grace. For those who remember only as far back as Dawson, picture an even more elegant outfielder. As for his scrambling on the basepaths, Jackie Robinson comes to mind. He was just a wonderful player to watch.
Clemente was an extraordinary baseball player in 1961 and from 1963-72. That will deservedly get him in the HOM.
But others, like Mel Ott, were that talented offensively for twice as long, basically. Even with park adjustments, fielding bonuses, maybe a one-year 'early-death' bonus, etc, Clemente just isn't going to get to that super-rarified air.

Actually, the comparison with Clemente to Wilhelm is extraordinarily difficult, I think. Both late bloomers, little else in common.


P.S.
It pains me to see my 1968 and 1969 baseball cards of this man, as he is called "Bob Clemente" on each card. Yeesh.
   22. sunnyday2 Posted: May 29, 2006 at 01:16 PM (#2042152)
As for Kaline, 95-99 percent of fans today would take it as an article of faith that of course Clemente was better than Kaline, and probably by a wide margin.

This amounts to underrating Kaline, who was in fact better than Clemente.
   23. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: May 29, 2006 at 01:46 PM (#2042171)
As for Kaline, 95-99 percent of fans today would take it as an article of faith that of course Clemente was better than Kaline, and probably by a wide margin.

This amounts to underrating Kaline, who was in fact better than Clemente.


Kaline's perception (unfairly, IMO) is also hurt by his age-20 season, which he never really progressed from.

He did kick butt in his only WS appearance, but does the average person even know about that? When I think of the '68 Tigers, McLain, Lolich, hell, even Mickey Stanley at short comes to mind before Mr. Tiger, which is sad indeed.
   24. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: May 29, 2006 at 01:51 PM (#2042177)
BTW, I remember "Bob" (ugh!) as an active player and when he died, but I never saw him play except on ESPN Classic (which, of course, is just as valid as anyone who watched him on TV back then).

I remember that there was a story in my elementary school reader by the mid-Seventies (same also goes for Gil Hodges), so I just assumed that he was in the same circle as Ruth, Johnson, and Mays as a player. I can't see it now.
   25. rawagman Posted: May 29, 2006 at 01:52 PM (#2042179)
sunny - your list is subjective by any means. Having Clemente rated ahead of Kaline does not mean that Clemente is overrated or that Kaline is underrated. It simply means that that guy likes Clemente's package better than Kaline's. Clemente was a pretty good player
   26. Steve Treder Posted: May 29, 2006 at 03:03 PM (#2042217)
I am old enough to remember having seen Clemente play. Some of the contemporary opinion of him is based on his extraordinary grace. For those who remember only as far back as Dawson, picture an even more elegant outfielder. As for his scrambling on the basepaths, Jackie Robinson comes to mind. He was just a wonderful player to watch.

He sure was. Entertaining as all hell; poetry in motion one moment, funky crankiness the next. Man he was fun.

I loved to watch Clemente, but my favorite image of him is probably an at-bat I saw him take on TV in 1970. The pitch is about six or seven yards low and outside: in other words, right in Clemente's wheelhouse. He reaches out and just nails the ball on a blistering line into the right field corner. Then he's off like a dog chasing a squirrel, toes outward, elbows churning in that hell-for-leather sprinting mode of his, and he flies all the way into third with a stand-up triple. And as soon as he reaches third, he arches his back and grimaces horribly, a picture of pain and agony.

There was simply no one else quite like him.
   27. Steve Treder Posted: May 29, 2006 at 03:36 PM (#2042230)
Keeping the chain going isn't nearly as important, becuase it's awfully hard to put together a sequential offense anyway, when the league is hitting .240. Power and speed go up in value in this kind of environment. Walks and singles go down.

Sure, but as Grandma says, this really overstates just how low-scoring conditions were in the 1963-68 period, especially in the NL. The league batting averages in Forbes Field for those years were: .255, .263, .259, .265, .259, and .251. It never got anywhere close to .240. NL scoring overall in 1964, 1965, and 1966 was higher than in the following seasons since: 1971, 1972, 1976, 1978, 1981, 1988, 1989, and 1992.

Obviously the conditions of every era are unique, and must be brought into consideration. But they must be done so properly. To assume that the scoring environment of Forbes Field in the mid-1960s was exceptionally low is to bring an assumption to bear that isn't justified by the facts.
   28. Paul Wendt Posted: May 29, 2006 at 04:00 PM (#2042250)
Overrated?
only because he is rated so highly (thanks to Lewis Carroll)

When Life magazine put him on the cover, he was underrated, maybe the most underrated player in baseball. I don't recall whether Life said it in those words but that is the message I recall.

Clemente is on the city maps, and in the school curriculum if that's true, as a national and ethnic figure, not only a great baseball player. That's easy to understand.
I suppose that Frank Robinson is not in the curriculum and I guess that he rarely recommended as the subject for a school paper during black history month. If I'm right, I guess it's because baseball is for boys. By the time, if ever, that the field of segregation and integration includes management, control, power, baseball isn't important enough to carry the illustration. We have the Supreme Court for that.

--
One SABR-L regular from the older generation represented here, probably Dick Adams, has called him "Bobby Clemente" and remarked that hearing or reading "Roberto" feels strange.
   29. Paul Wendt Posted: May 29, 2006 at 04:04 PM (#2042253)
We have the Supreme Court for that.

I'm not sure there is a valid point in this paragraph. The Supreme Court certainly doesn't make the point. It has enough symbolic value to get Thurgood Marshall into elementary school with Roberto Clemente.
   30. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: May 29, 2006 at 04:11 PM (#2042256)
Clemente is on the city maps, and in the school curriculum if that's true, as a national and ethnic figure, not only a great baseball player. That's easy to understand.

Of course, Paul. But getting back to that story when I was a child, they did overstate his playing credentials, so the focus wasn't solely on the humanitarian Clemente.
   31. DavidFoss Posted: May 29, 2006 at 04:59 PM (#2042286)
Clemente vs Kaline is a nice side-debate.

Clemente has almost zero chance of finishing lower than second in next 'years' HOM election, but like Koufax before him, HOM-lurkers may be surprised at the lack of unanimity of his vote. His slow career start keeps him out of the inner circle and voters here are getting more conservative with new candidates to prevent 'surprise' first ballot inductions. Clemente surely wouldn't be a surprise, but that effect 'trickles up' to remove unamity. I just want to calm lurkers concerns about our voting patterns.
   32. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: May 29, 2006 at 05:13 PM (#2042298)
Clemente has almost zero chance of finishing lower than second in next 'years' HOM election

I'll state unequivocally that he will show up no lower than second. I would even bet money on it.
   33. Brandon in MO (Yunitility Infielder) Posted: May 29, 2006 at 05:43 PM (#2042347)
Ya know, the following might be more useful in another place, but it sorta came to me.

Why don't fielding stats include the following 'breakdowns'?

a) showing if someone completed a putout on their own, or if they put out somebody with an assist from someone else.

b) showing what role someone had on a double play (such as making the first out, or the second out, or starting the process).

c) showing which base an 'assist' went to (for outfielders). For example, did the right fielder get the guy at third, or home?

Advances are being made, but it's still sorta like painting with crayons when it comes to beauty and accuracy.

It would be interesting to see how many "baserunner kills" Clemente had. And maybe there is some use for breaking it down by which base the 'kill' occured at, or which out the 'kill' was.

There's not much doubt about Clemente, his fielding, and his arm, but i'm sure we can get a better picture of all these things.
   34. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: May 29, 2006 at 05:48 PM (#2042353)
Brandon:

I agree with all of your points.
   35. Mark Shirk (jsch) Posted: May 29, 2006 at 05:50 PM (#2042355)
I have always likened Clemente (whom I never saw, in fact I was -10 when he died) and Vlad Guerrero. Sure Vlad has more power and Roberto was a better fielder but they were both such physical specimens that you really didnt' know what they might do next.
   36. Brandon in MO (Yunitility Infielder) Posted: May 29, 2006 at 06:28 PM (#2042426)
I'm seeing a weird connection between Beltran and Clemente. Although, it should be noted that probably half of the promising outfielders from that area get compared to Clemente at one point or another.
   37. AJMcCringleberry Posted: May 29, 2006 at 06:29 PM (#2042429)
I have always likened Clemente (whom I never saw, in fact I was -10 when he died) and Vlad Guerrero.

Ha, I was just gonna post the same thing (I also was -10). Vlad had more power and better control of the strikezone, but both are strong armed right fielders who hit for a high average and didn't walk a lot.
   38. AJMcCringleberry Posted: May 29, 2006 at 06:32 PM (#2042437)
How was Clemente's range? I always hear people talk about his D, but all they ever say is that he had a strong arm.
   39. sunnyday2 Posted: May 29, 2006 at 06:52 PM (#2042466)
>sunny - your list is subjective by any means.

Well, it's my list.
   40. jingoist Posted: May 29, 2006 at 11:16 PM (#2042718)
I can perhaps shed a bit of light on the "Bobby" Clemente issue. I was 10 when Clemente broke into the Bucco lineup in 1955. One of the few times Pittsburgh has used the rule V draft to their benefit, by the way.

Pittsburgh was primarily settled by poor western, middle and eastern European immigrants. Laborers who worked the mills and coal mines in the area.
When baseball began to integrate, the great majority of Pittsburghers had never laid eyes on a latin american.
In an effort to "americanize" Roberto the Pirates's pr department began referring to Clemente as Bobby; this was exacerbated by Bob Prince, the voice of the Pirates on KDKA, who also began referring to Clemente as Bobby; he would call him that name whenever he interviewed Clemente before/after ballgames. As night follows day,the shortend name, Bob, was soon to follow.
I dont believe Bob or Bobby was ever much appreciated by Clemente himself.

Pirate fans were slow to warm to Clemente.
He was truly foreign to them: a very dark latin american who spoke almost no english when he arrived in '55.
Secondly, the fans thought he was a malingerer because his neck and back gave him problems for most all of his playing years in Pittsburgh and he missed many games when he didn't feel 100%.
His pride ( he was avery prideful man) kept him from playing when he couldn't give 100%. Fans thought he just didn't want to paly hurt; not "take one for the team". It took Pirate fans many many years to get over that impression of Clemente.

I've seen some discussion about a comparison of Clemente to Kaline, which player was better.

Kaline got off to a much faster start as a world-class outfielder and slugger than Roberto.
Fact is, he was a more powerful slugger that Roberto but he lacked Roberto's speed.
Roberto ranks 27th all-time in triples; only Musial has more 3Bs among Roberto's contemporaries; Mays was 25 behind him.

Clemente struggled to hit 240 HRs; Kaline hit 400 HRs and 500 2B's, 60 more than Roberto.
Could Clemente "caught up to" Kaline in the counting stats column.
Perhaps in doubles but never in HRs.

Was he a better fielder than Kaline?
Not early on but Clemente got very good at learning where to play opposing batters as his career progressed and he had an absolute rifle for an arm; 266 OF assists attest to his ability to throw out guys trying to stretch singles into doubles and go from 1st to third on a single into RF.
By the mid-60's most opposing players had learned not to stretch too many hits sent toward Clemente.

Both wonderful players, both were the most important players on their respective teams for many years.
I like to think they were of equal value to their ballclubs.
   41. DCW3 Posted: May 29, 2006 at 11:26 PM (#2042733)
Is "clemero" the most valuable Lahman database ID shared by more than one player?
   42. Howie Menckel Posted: May 29, 2006 at 11:35 PM (#2042745)
Has anyone read the new Clemente book? Or is it even out yet?
   43. Brandon in MO (Yunitility Infielder) Posted: May 30, 2006 at 12:45 AM (#2042963)
jingoist,

wouldn't you ssay that a right-handed hitter would have better numbers if they played half of their games in Tiger Stadium instead of in Forbes Field? Sure, Kaline had more power, but he was aided by his home park.
   44. Steve Treder Posted: May 30, 2006 at 01:21 AM (#2043020)
Has anyone read the new Clemente book? Or is it even out yet?

Here's my assessment of it.
   45. Steve Treder Posted: May 30, 2006 at 01:25 AM (#2043025)
wouldn't you ssay that a right-handed hitter would have better numbers if they played half of their games in Tiger Stadium instead of in Forbes Field? Sure, Kaline had more power, but he was aided by his home park.

Of course, every player's stats are shaped by his home park (and the generalized league conditions). Clemente's triples stats are greatly aided by his playing his home games in the best triples environment in the modern major leagues.

Stats such as OPS+ do a pretty good job of accounting for home park. Kaline's lifetime OPS+ was 134 to Clemente's 130.
   46. OCF Posted: May 30, 2006 at 02:19 AM (#2043225)
Re comments about Vlad Guerrero: For 30 years, every Latino outfielder with speed or any kind of throwing arm has been the "next Clemente." Sometimes you wind up with Sammy Sosa. Sometimes you wind up with Raul Mondesi.

I'm left with the impression that from where he started, Clemente could easily have been Mondesi - the fact that he became so much more says a lot about him.

On the other hand, I wish the comparisons would go away. Or for once, a white or Japanese guy described as a "Clemente-type."
   47. Steve Treder Posted: May 30, 2006 at 02:26 AM (#2043249)
I'm left with the impression that from where he started, Clemente could easily have been Mondesi - the fact that he became so much more says a lot about him.

I agree with this. A lot of the oohing and aahing over Clemente seems to marvel at his physical tools, but my take on him is that his physical tools (except his arm) weren't particularly special. What made him great was his competitive will, his persistence, his focus and conditioning (especially in the face of chronic injuries), and his intelligence: all of which allowed him to continually develop and improve well into his 30s. Clemente made himself a great player. Most others with his raw ability wouldn't be particularly well-remembered today.
   48. AJMcCringleberry Posted: May 30, 2006 at 02:33 AM (#2043279)
On the other hand, I wish the comparisons would go away. Or for once, a white or Japanese guy described as a "Clemente-type."

I see what you are saying, but I didn't make the comparison because they are both latino. I could have gone with Ichiro but he's more of a slap hitter (and a lefty).
   49. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: May 30, 2006 at 02:54 AM (#2043352)
One thing that stands out to me about Clemente was the great shape he was in at the time of his death. He was pushing forty, but he didn't look it. How many players back then (or even now, for that matter) could you say that about?
   50. Mark Shirk (jsch) Posted: May 30, 2006 at 03:13 AM (#2043397)
"On the other hand, I wish the comparisons would go away. Or for once, a white or Japanese guy described as a "Clemente-type." "

Jeff Francouer?
   51. John Lowenstein Apathy Club Posted: May 30, 2006 at 03:19 AM (#2043422)
For 30 years, every Latino outfielder with speed or any kind of throwing arm has been the "next Clemente."

Alex Rios has been getting those comments for three years now in Toronto, the funny thing that this year he's actually doing it!
   52. Steve Treder Posted: May 30, 2006 at 03:48 AM (#2043545)
First of all, I do think that's a big split. Maybe it doesn't appear huge in the aggregate, but he hit 38% more HR on the road than at home. Add in the slight advantage most players have at home, and I do think Forbes could be considered a "severe" drain on his HR totals.

Well, perhaps. But let's keep this in perspective: the most HRs Clemente ever hit on the road in any season is 14. Give him every conceivable benefit of the doubt, and there still just isn't any way you can make his HR power to be anything other than pretty good.

That's what it was. He was 5'11" and 175 pounds, wiry strong, but hardly any kind of a big guy who could have been reasonably expected to hit a lot of home runs under any circumstances. He was a tremendous line drive hitter to all fields, but there's just no valid way to twirl the evidence we have into him being a slugger.
   53. DCW3 Posted: May 30, 2006 at 05:35 AM (#2043626)
On the other hand, I wish the comparisons would go away. Or for once, a white or Japanese guy described as a "Clemente-type."

Well, Johnny Damon was Clemente's most similar player at age 26 and 28, and he's both white and...well, not Japanese, but Asian.

Of course, they're really not all that similar...
   54. yest Posted: May 30, 2006 at 10:30 AM (#2043666)
Walks and singles go down.
I agree with you on walks but singles advance the runners
   55. Howie Menckel Posted: May 30, 2006 at 01:30 PM (#2043720)
I would be wary of reading into things that aren't necessarily there, a la comparing players of similar racial backgrounds.

A lot of current Dominican players, for instance, are more similar to each other than to other players - the old "You can't walk off the island, you have to hit your way off" and such.

It IS tiresome to hear about scrappy white-guy overachievers and not hear as many such credits for players of other ethnic groups. But I also would find it silly to have to worry about making comparisons about players who happen to share both a skillset and an ethnic background.

Yogi Berra and Clemente, on the other hand, both seem to have been bad-ball hitters. The reason they are less likely to be compared may simply be because the next part of it - baserunning after hitting that ball into the gap - is SO different.
   56. dlf Posted: May 30, 2006 at 02:09 PM (#2043743)
That's what it was. He was 5'11" and 175 pounds, wiry strong, but hardly any kind of a big guy who could have been reasonably expected to hit a lot of home runs under any circumstances.

Hank Aaron was 6'0" and 180. Ernie Banks 6'1" 180. Willie Mays 5'11" 180. Plenty of great home run hitters have been "wiry strong, but hardly any kind of a big guy."
   57. jingoist Posted: May 30, 2006 at 02:55 PM (#2043771)
Clemente's approach to hitting worked against him ever becomming a great HR hitter.
He was Manny Sanguillen before Manny ever got to Pgh.
Clemente was a notorious bad-ball hitter, regularly hitting low and outside balls into rightfield for doubles or triples.
As disciplined as he was regarding physical fitness he never developed the discipline necessary toward his plate appearances to draw walks or swing only at pitches in his power zone.

The Great One was my favorite Pirate player to watch over the years and I saw a short piece on Jim Lehrer's News Hour last night with David Maranis who has just recently written an homage to Roberto, his favorite childhood player. I'll be asking for a copy come fathers day!
   58. Steve Treder Posted: May 30, 2006 at 03:11 PM (#2043781)
Hank Aaron was 6'0" and 180. Ernie Banks 6'1" 180. Willie Mays 5'11" 180. Plenty of great home run hitters have been "wiry strong, but hardly any kind of a big guy."

All were bigger than Clemente, particularly in the upper body. And those weights for Aaron and Mays aren't close to accurate for the final phases of either's career, while Clemente kept his slim figure to the very end.

Again, the simple point remains: there is no credible evidence that Clemente was a first-rate home run hitter, whose ability in that regard is somehow hidden from us or was intentionally suppressed. Clemente was what he was; no matter how hard one tries, there is no valid way to make him into something he wasn't.
   59. Howie Menckel Posted: May 30, 2006 at 03:11 PM (#2043783)
Wow, interesting review by Treder (see link above) of the new Clemente book.

I think some might even appreciate the review, disagree with it, and then enjoy the book anyway. But it's a fair critique, I think.
   60. DavidFoss Posted: May 30, 2006 at 03:18 PM (#2043787)
jd:Walks and singles go down.
y:I agree with you on walks but singles advance the runners


A good page for linear weights by era is here
   61. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: May 30, 2006 at 03:31 PM (#2043795)
"...while Clemente kept his slim figure to the very end."

In light of this claim, it's important to remember that Clemente was 37 when he died, while Mays and Aaron were both still playing at age 42. He might just have been slimmer anyway, but he didn't have those five years on the tail end of his career to bulk up like Mays and Aaron, and that makes a difference.
   62. Steve Treder Posted: May 30, 2006 at 03:40 PM (#2043801)
In light of this claim, it's important to remember that Clemente was 37 when he died, while Mays and Aaron were both still playing at age 42.

Actually Clemente was a few months past his 38th birthday when he died. By that age both Mays and (particularly) Aaron were bulkier than they'd been in their 20s and early 30s. Mays never really got the belly going, he just kind of got thicker all over as he aged, but Aaron kind of had the boiler action. By age 37-38, Aaron was almost certainly around 200 pounds, and by the end of his career he was more than a few pounds heavier than that.

But at every single point in their careers, from the very beginnings and at every stage following, both Mays and Aaron hit for far more home run power than Clemente. They were never comparable in that regard.
   63. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: May 30, 2006 at 04:37 PM (#2043843)
Clemente's triples stats are greatly aided by his playing his home games in the best triples environment in the modern major leagues.

I'd be willing to say the greatest consistent triples envrionment ever. Go to b-r.com, and look at the yearly pages for every NL season from the time Frobes field was completed to its demolition. The Pirates lead in triples virtually every year, and many times by a good margin---this is particularly true while the Waners were there. It was a fabulous triples park for decades.
   64. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: May 30, 2006 at 05:20 PM (#2043901)
I'd be willing to say the greatest consistent triples envrionment ever.

You probably can throw in inside-the-park homers, too.
   65. David Speed Posted: August 18, 2006 at 05:03 AM (#2145325)
REGARDING THE 5/28-30/06 ROBERTO CLEMENTE THREAD:
PART ONE - Treder / PART TWO - sunnyday 2 / PART THREE - My Two Cents</I> </I>


<U>PART ONE:</U>

First of all: actually [Clemente's total] of 29 homers [in 1966] was surpassed by a RHB <u>twice</u> in the deep-left Forbes configuration, by Frank Thomas (35 in 1958) and Dick Stuart (35 in 1961). And Stuart hit 27 in 397 at-bats in 1959, and in the very season of 1966, Donn Clendenon hit 28. Yes, 29 HRs by a RHB in that Forbes configuration was quite impressiuve, but it isn't as though it was all that stupendous...

Give him every conceivable benefit of the doubt, and there still just isn't any way you can make his HR power to be anything other than pretty good.
That's what it was. He was 5'11" and 175 pounds, wiry strong, but hardly any kind of a big guy who could have been reasonably expected to hit a lot of home runs under any circumstances. He was a tremendous line drive hitter to all fields, but there's just no valid way to twirl the evidence we have into him being a slugger. -- Steve Treder


DICK STUART:
"There must go the best 169-pound slugger in baseball." (1)
"Don't let anybody kid you he couldn't hit for distance. When he wanted to, he could power one as far as anybody in baseball. He was usually smart enough to go for line drives at Forbes Field." (2)
(1) Les Biederman, "Clemente's Clouting Keeps Corsairs Hot on Trail of Treasure," The Sporting News (May 31, 1961), p. 10
(2) Bill Christine, <u> Roberto! The Man…The Player…The Humanitarian…The Life and Times of Roberto Clemente </u> (New York, Stadia Sports Publishing, Inc. 1973), p. 103

JIMMY WYNN (Speedy, 5’ 9’’ outfielder with a lot of power spent most of his career with the Houston Astros – nicknamed “The Toy Cannon”):
“My first major league game was at Forbes Field in Pittsburgh, and Roberto Clemente almost killed me! Not many people know this, but I came up as a shortstop. Clemente hit a screaming line drive, and I got my glove up just as the ball hit the left field wall.
I was one heck of a high school shortstop, but the majors were another story. After that, I told the coaches and manager to get me out of the infield.”
- - - - Al Doyle, “, p. 10

BART RIPP (Sports editor of The Daily Iowan):
“[On Wednesday, September 13, 1972 at Wrigley Field], Clemente went three-for-three against Ferguson Jenkins, including a home run that won the game.
“The next day, the Pirates took batting practice and I saw something I shall always remember. Pittsburgh had a rookie just up from triple-A named [Jim] McKee throwing batting practice. Let’s say shooting instead of throwing. This guy was about 6' 8" and he could bring it. Stargell had trouble connecting on him. Al Oliver couldn’t get a ball out of the infield. Richie Hebner was so disgusted he slammed his bat against the supports of the batting cage.
“Clemente stepped in, practicing left-handed swings. Some of the Cubs tossing a ball came over to watch. All of the writers gathered around the cage. Even Clemente’s teammates, who see him swing every day, wanted to see if Roberto could connect on the big rookie.
“Clemente took his usual spot deep in the box, as far from the plate as possible. Standing still, Clemente heard the first pitch go by, then primly stuck his bat out over the plate at the next three. Each time, the ball hit the club, then pirouetted to the grass, just fair.
“Roberto then took three swings, but did not move his legs or hips, just the arms and wrists – he was merely getting his eye in. The result was three line drives – to left, to center, to right. All base hits in any game.
“Clemente slowly hauled out his familiar swing: the front leg lifted and cocked to the catcher, his torso leaping at the ball, the swing ending with his back foot hanging in the air.
“He proceeded to undress the rookie, smacking severe line drives all over Wrigley Field. Not paying any respect to a god, Hebner shouted, ‘Come on, one more swing.’
“Clemente motioned to the pitcher, wiping the side of his hand across the side of his uniform. McKee put it right there, right through the heart of the plate, and Clemente swung once more. The ball nearly tipped the button of McKee’s cap, then once past second began to rise on a straight line. It was still rising when it struck the bleachers just below the scoreboard, about 450 feet away.
“The people around the cage surveyed the landing site for a few seconds, then closed their mouths and looked back into the cage. It was empty, as Clemente walked back to the dugout, rolling his head about and cricking his neck.”
- - - - Bart Ripp, “Roberto Clemente: He Was a Gifted Player and an Extraordinary Man,” Baseball Digest (March 1973), p. 20

ANDRES GALLARAGA:
“[Reggie Jackson] and Roberto Clemente were the ones I paid attention to as a boy. I loved it that both of them could really drive the ball. I guess that’s what I saw myself doing some day. I loved how they’d thump the ball, how far they could hit it.”

- - - - Tim Wendel, <u>The New Face of Baseball: The One-Hundred-Year Rise and Triumph of Latinos in America's Favorite Sport</u> (New York, HarperCollins Publishers, 2003, 2004), p. 100
   66. David Speed Posted: August 18, 2006 at 05:29 AM (#2145335)
REGARDING THE 5/28-30/06 ROBERTO CLEMENTE THREAD:
PART ONE - Treder / PART TWO - sunnyday 2 / PART THREE - My Two Cents</I> </I>

What was transmitted of my first attempt was an <u>extremely</u> - and extremely oddly - truncated version. What got through were the first two and last two entries of PART ONE. I'll aim here for the remainder of PART ONE A

<U>PART ONE A :</U>


JOE BLACK (Clemente’s teammate on the Dodgers’ minor league club in Montreal. It was in fact Black, not Clemente, whom Clyde Sukeforth was sent to scout by Pirate GM Branch Rickey in 1954 {Rickey’s 1957 attempt to sell an alternate version of reality – and Maraniss’ all-too-willing purchase – notwithstanding}. As it turned out, Sukeforth never got to see Black pitch. However, despite the great lengths to which the Dodgers went in order to hide Clemente, Sukeforth saw more than enough of him to enable the Pirates to get one of the greatest bargains in the history of major league baseball.):
“I was impressed because he was 18 years old, just turning 19, but he had a lot of desire to play. The thing that amazed me is that sometimes one of his legs would be up in the air and he’d be hitting, and it’d still go out of the ballpark. He was just strong.”
- - - - Bruce Markusen, Roberto Clemente: The Great One (Champaign, Sports Publishing, Inc. 1998), p.18

BILL CHRISTINE (Les Biederman’s successor as the Pirates’ beat reporter for the Pittsburgh Press and author of <u>Roberto! The Man…The Player…The Humanitarian…The Life and Times of Roberto Clemente</u>, here recounting an early power outburst, long before Clemente'd encountered either Forbes Field's forbidding dimensions or the emphatic anti-slugging advocacy of George Sisler):
“If there was the remote possibility that Clemente could exist for a season at Montreal and go unnoticed, Roberto exploded the notion at the outset. The left-field wall at Montreal’s DeLorimier Stadium [AKA DeLorimier Downs] was as distant as the 365-foot at Pittsburgh’s Forbes Field, and the wind was usually blowing in. [Well, not exactly. The left-field line is actually the one dimension that was shorter at DeLorimier than at Forbes – 341 vs. 365 feet. However, there was a 24-foot-high fence there similar to the 25-foot-high left-field scoreboard at Forbes, and the wind blowing in may have just about made up the difference – see William Brown, <u>Baseball’s Fabulous Montreal Royals: The Minor League Team that Made Major League History</u> (Montreal, Robert Davies Publishing, 1996), p. 28]. Yet Clemente cleared the fence with a blast the first week of the season, becoming the first Montreal player to do so."
- - - - Christine, <u>Roberto! The Man…The Player…The Humanitarian…The Life and Times of Roberto Clemente</u>, p. 65

BRUCE MARKUSEN (Author of <u>Roberto Clemente: The Great One</u> offering his account of the Clemente's 1954 Monteal tape measure job):
"During the opening week of the International League season, Clemente ripped a monstrous, 400-foot home run over the left field wall at Delorimier Downs, Montreal's home ballpark. Clemente became the first player in Royals' history to clear the left field wall at such a point. It was even more noteworthy when one realized that a hearty wind was gusting straight in from left field toward home plate."
- - - - Markusen, <u>Roberto Clemente: The Great One</u>, pp. 18-19

The Montreal shot brings to mind a number of home runs Clemente would later hit deep into the rarely reached - and equally wind-shielded - left-field bleachers at San Francisco’s Candlestick Park. There were at least three that I know of: (1) May 6, 1960 off Sam Jones {and the only one of the three to be widely noted – see ARNOLD HANO and BOB STEVENS below}, (2) May 23, 1964 off Gaylord Perry – see GAYLORD PERRY below, and (3) June 11, 1968 off Ray Sadecki – see BOB STEVENS below.


==============================================================================================

THE THREE CANDLESTICK SHOTS
As I said, only the first of the three [5/6/60] has been widely recalled. I’ve seen the assertion from a number of sources that Clemente’s 5/6/60 blast was only one of four such home runs in the history of Candlestick Park – Clemente, Ernie Banks and two unnamed Giants being the respective authors. I only learned of the ones off Perry and Sadecki by way of a recent keyword search on ‘Clemente recollections’ and a survey of Inquirer coverage of Giants-Pirates games from 1958-1972, respectively.

<u>NUMBER ONE - May 6, 1960</u>:

ARNOLD HANO(Southern-California-based freelance sportswriter, biographer and novelist, writing here in 1962):
“At the plate, he is a slashing, free-swinging young man who gets tremendous mileage out of his slat-lean 5’ 11’’, 175-pound frame and who seems quite capable of literally breaking a baseball with his bat. There was that game in San Francisco, in early 1960 [May 6]. Sam Jones on the mound, and the Giants in their patented early-season rush, the rest of the league panting in their wake. Jones, and a few of his pitching buddies, had been throwing Clemente high and tight – which is a euphemism for beanballs. Finally Jones came in with a blinding fastball, the way Sad Sam used to throw ’em, and Clemente unloaded.
“The wind was blowing in from left field that day, and blowing hard. This was 1960, remember, before the fences had been moved in, and nobody was hitting home runs at Candlestick. Not Mays, not Cepeda, not anybody. [Not to left, anyway. The wind at Candlestick used to below in and across from left, often helping balls hit to right, while mercilessly knocking down fly balls to left. On the day in question, which happened to be Willie Mays’ birthday, not only did the birthday boy himself hit one out, but so did the Giants’ other Willies, McCovey and Kirkland, all to right or right-center – see BOB STEVENS below]
“Clemente’s bat hit the ball, and the result absolutely clubbed the crowd into awed silence for a long moment. Right into that wet whipping wind the ball carried. Right on through, hit 120 feet high in a long soaring majestic parabola that came down finally over 450 feet away. There is just no way of telling how far Clemente’s home run blast would have traveled had it not been for that wind. Suffice it to say partisan Giant fans suddenly broke their shell-shocked silence and let loose a gagantic roar. For two innings the stadium buzzed. For days the Giants talked about it. Even today if you slip up behind a Giant pitcher and suddenly whisper in his ear: ‘Remember the home run Clemente hit?’ he’s likely to jump as high as if he’d been caught putting spit on baseballs.”
- - - - Hano, “Roberto Clemente: ‘Arriba,’” from Baseball Stars of 1962, Ray Robinson, editor (New York, Pyramid Publications, Inc., 1962)

BOB STEVENS (Giants’ beat writer for the S F Inquirer reporting on the 5/6/60 home run):
“It was ‘shot night’ at Candlestick last night, and the popular theory that the Giants’ new park is a home run cemetery was thoroughly shaken up – if only for one game.
“Four hitters, three of them Giants, slugged baseballs over the distant fences, and every one of them was smashed with velocity comparable to the winds which whipped through the park all night.
“Easily the most satisfying homer was hit by the ‘birthday boy,’ Willie Mays, who reached the age of 29 with an off-field shot in the sixth inning off shell-shocked Pirate pitching ace, Vernon Law. The line drive just eluded the acrobatic leap of Roberto Clemente, hit the top of the right field barrier and bounced high over the fence.
“‘That was the first (censored) hit I ever got on my birthday. But that second one I hit (which Clemente caught) was the hardest one I hit. I’m a better hitter when I go to right, but I haven’t hit a good one to left center, where my real power is, since I played in this park.’
“The lost balls hit last night were belted, in order, by Willie McCovey (a 410-foot liner to right center, Willie Kirkland (a 430-foot job that bounced into the right field parking lot), Mays’ birthday hit, and then the biggest shot of them all, and that one belonged to Roberto Clemente.
“Roberto’s blow traveled 410 feet, but it was hit into the treacherous cross-wind in left center. [California-based freelance sportswriter Arnold Hano estimated it at 450 feet as did Kal Wagenheim, Clemente (New York, Praeger Publishers, 1973), p. 73. See ARNOLD HANO above. Also, see tales of the tape.] Pittsburgh manager Danny Murtaugh said afterward that he’d ‘like to see Clemente’s hit on a clear day with no wind and see how far it really would go.’”
- - - - Bob Stevens, “Mays, Kirkland, McCovey Homer,” The San Francisco Chronicle (Saturday, May 7, 1960), p. 27

<u>NUMBER TWO - May 23, 1964</u>:

GAYLORD PERRY:
“They said don’t pitch him inside. I didn’t pitch him inside for three or four years. When I did pitch him inside, he hit a home run ... the wind blowing 30 miles per hour against him. He hit it 25 rows deep.”
- - - - Heuck and Fitzpatrick, “Pittsburgh's Claim to Fame: Hall-of-Famers Tell of Times In Our City,” The Pittsburgh Quarterly (Winter 2006)

<u>NUMBER THREE - June 11, 1968</u>:

BOB STEVENS (Writing on June 11, 1968):
“The little world of southpaw Ray Sadecki spun around rather violently last night as the Pittsburgh Pirates battered him from the mound in the sixth inning and carried on to a 7-4 victory over the Giants.
“Going into the fifth, Sadecki had shut out the Pirates for 22 consecutive innings. Then agony replaced the joy.
“A walk to Donn Clendenon and successive singles by Jerry May, Bill Mazeroski and pinch-hitter Carl Taylor rent asunder the handsome string of scoreless innings Ray had compiled against the season-long-slumped Pirates.
“But Sadecki still had the lead [at] 3-2, and although there was some alarm in the bullpen, there was not yet panic. Roberto Clemente, however, changed that in a hurry when he led off the sixth with a horrible-looking drive far into the left field stands – his eighth homer of the year and one of the longest ever hit in that spot.
“It started a four-run rally and it started the stunned Sadecki toward the showers.”
- - - - Stevens, “Bucs Pound Sadecki, Giants, 7-4,” The San Francisco Chronicle (Wednesday, June 12, 1968), p. 47
   67. David Speed Posted: August 18, 2006 at 06:07 AM (#2145342)
REGARDING THE 5/28-30/06 ROBERTO CLEMENTE THREAD:
PART ONE - Treder / PART TWO - sunnyday 2 / PART THREE - My Two Cents</I> </I>


<U>PART ONE B:</U>

RON SWOBODA:
“I saw him hit line drives off the brick wall at Forbes Field. One of them was the hardest ball I ever saw hit. I saw Willie Stargell and Willie McCovey and Dick Allen hit some long balls against us, up and out, but Clemente’s was different. I just never saw a ball hit so hard.”
- - - - Jim O’Brien, Remember Roberto: Roberto Clemente Recalled by Teammates, Family, Friends and Fans (Pittsburgh, James P. O’Brien – Publishing, 1994), p. 270

LARRY DIERKER:
“There were four home runs in the [’72 All-Star] game – two by Willie McCovey, the [game’s] MVP, and one each by Frank Howard and Johnny Bench. With all of the long balls, the one I remember most was hit by Roberto Clemente. The Great One hit it all the way into the upper deck, but it was foul. I had seen balls hit farther, but I had never seen a ball hit that far to the opposite field!”
- - - - Dierker, “Dierker on Baseball: Hanging with stars in Summer of '69,” The Houston Chronicle (Monday, July 12, 2004), p. 6

SANDY KOUFAX:
“The longest ball I ever saw hit to the opposite field was hit off me by Clemente at the Los Angeles Coliseum in 1961. It was a fastball on the outside corner, and he drove it out of the park – not just over the fence, he knocked it way out. * (1)
* Possibly an even scarier blast and one which Koufax could usually be counted upon – in his capacity as color commentator for the NBC Game of the Week in the late sixties – to conjure up for the viewing audience during a Clemente at-bat, was one which Clemente hit off Koufax at Forbes Field on May 31, 1964:
“Roberto Clemente hit an outside fastball that was still rising when it hit against the light tower in left center field, 450 feet away from home plate. And on a 1-2 pitch at that.” (2)

(1) Arnold Hano, Roberto Clemente: Batting King(New York, Putnam, 1973), p.151
(2) Sandy Koufax with Ed Linn, <u>Koufax</u> (New York, The Viking Press, 1966) p. 220

ERNIE BANKS:
“A lot of us are fortunate to have played in ballparks geared for our style of hitting. For instance, Stan Musial played in old Busch stadium with that short right field porch made to order for a lefty swinger. Duke Snider for years also had a friendly right field target in Ebbets Field in Brooklyn. That was a home run hitter’s paradise. There were no power alleys as such because left and right center were square with the foul lines.
“The short left field and right field lines, with the low fences, were ideal for Mickey Mantle in Yankee Stadium. Ted Kluszewski played in Cincinnati’s Crosley Field, where right field is a good target. Wally Moon, when the Dodgers played in the Los Angeles Coliseum a few years before their new park was built, learned to swing late and dunk fly balls over that high, friendly screen in left field. At the same time, right field in this football stadium just was too far away for Snider unless he pulled the ball down the line.
“Clemente geared his style of hitting for Forbes Field, whose left field walls are too far away for consistent production for right-handed hitters. Roberto concentrated on hitting line drives into the spacious right [and left] center field section. Had he been a Cub, I’m sure he would have adopted a power-style of swinging. Some of you fans may remember the ball he knocked out of Wrigley a few seasons ago, just to the left field side of the scoreboard. That’s the longest one I’ve seen hit there and we all agreed it must have traveled more than 500 feet on its trip into Waveland Avenue." [Also, see PHILIP LOWRY below.]
- - - - Ernie Banks, “The Wonderful World of Ernie Banks: Clemente Toughest in Banks’ Opinion,” The Chicago Tribune (July 6, 1969), p. B1

PHILIP LOWRY:
“On April 14, 1951, Sam Snead hit the only ball ever to reach the [Wrigley Field] scoreboard. It was a golf ball, teed off from the plate. Only two batters have come close to hitting the scoreboard. Roberto Clemente’s [1959] homer sailed just left of the scoreboard; Bill Nicholson’s [1948 shot] went just right.”[ Hall-of-Famer ROGERS HORNSBY called Clemente’s shot the longest he’d ever seen – see <u>tales of the tape</u>. For an account of a possibly even more formidable Clemente blast hit at Wrigley Field in a more informal setting, see BART RIPP in the first installment.]
- - - - Philip J. Lowry, <u>Green Cathedrals: The Ultimate Celebration of All 271 Major League and Negro League Ballparks Past and Present</u> (Reading, Addison-Wesley Publishing Company, 1992), pp. 31-32

CURT FLOOD:
- - Commenting on Clemente’s 500-foot blast to straightaway centerfield, which left Forbes Field and landed in a neighboring Little League diamond:
“I didn’t think the ball was going out. Nobody hits ’em out of the park at that spot. [Well, almost nobody. Clemente had hit one to almost the identical spot four days earlier – see LES BIEDERMAN below.] (1) I just didn’t think anyone could hit a ball that far.” (2)

(1) Neil Russo, “Homer Off Little Al Is Long Shot,” The St. Louis Post-Dispatch (Friday, June 10, 1966), p. 5B
(2) Glenn Gearhard, tales of the tape, Glenn’s Pirate Page
(http://www.mindspring.com / ~gearhard/taletape.html)
   68. David Speed Posted: August 18, 2006 at 06:53 AM (#2145357)
REGARDING THE 5/28-30/06 ROBERTO CLEMENTE THREAD:
PART ONE - Treder / PART TWO - sunnyday 2 / PART THREE - My Two Cents</I> </I>


<U>PART ONE C:</U>

Again, the simple point remains: there is no credible evidence that Clemente was a first-rate home run hitter, whose ability in that regard is somehow hidden from us or was intentionally suppressed. Clemente was what he was; no matter how hard one tries, there is no valid way to make him into something he wasn't. -- Treder

HOWIE HAAK:
“The only thing you ever hear about Clemente is that he doesn’t hit enough home runs. The criticism is ridiculous, because he could hit 40 a year if he wanted to. He has the greatest physical ability of anybody I’ve seen in a long time. He’s got as much power as anyone on this ballclub. Only [Bob] Robertson may have a little more.”
- - - - Markusen, <u> (Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh Associates DBA, 1994), p. 10
   69. David Speed Posted: August 18, 2006 at 07:01 AM (#2145359)
REGARDING THE 5/28-30/06 ROBERTO CLEMENTE THREAD:
PART ONE - Treder / PART TWO - sunnyday 2 / PART THREE - My Two Cents</I> </I>


<U>PART ONE D:</U>

BOB SKINNER:
"Clemente always chose average over power. Playing around in batting practice, he'd hit one ball after another over the fence. But in games, he just wanted to make hard contact."
- - - - Bruce Jenkins, "The Games -- Driven by Competitive Fires -- Bonds Seems Aloof, But it's All a Big Lie," <i>The San Francicsco Chronicle (Tuesday, April 25, 1995), p. C11</i>

LES BIEDERMAN (Pittsburgh Press' sports editor who covered the Pirates for the Press from 1938 and for The Sporting News from 1956, both terms ending with his retirement in 1969. Biederman's relationship to Clemente is an intriguing one; He is the Pittsurgh writer who actively campaigned among other writers on behalf of Dick Groat and <u>against</u> Clemente and Don Hoak for the 1960 NL MVP award. I had been aware of the anti-Clemente campaign for a number of years before I knew the identity of the writer. I'd always assumed it was Jack Hernon of the Post Gazette, who had a palpable antipathy toward Clemente <i>[somewhat akin to Pirate reliever Elroy Face's attitude toward his Puerto Rican teammate] and to whom Clemente was not speaking during the last year of his [Hernon's] life, while the writer was dying of cancer. But Biederman has been confirmed as the culprit by Maraniss, Markusen and O'Brien. Not having access either to any of Biederman's communications with other writers or to any first-hand accounts by any of the recipients of such communications, I have no idea to what extent his campaign was an attack on either Clemente or Hoak rather than merely a plug for Groat, although certainly the unsolicited electioneering seems inappropriate in any case. Unfortunately, I don't have access to The Press prior to 1967 and, while I do have access to The Sporting News dispatches on microfilm - thanks to the New York Public Library, ironically [and annoyingly], their copy of the reel containing the last half of 1960 is missing, so I'm unable to monitor any subtle - or not-so-subtle - change in the slant of his coverage. But prior to and subsequent to that point, his coverage of Clemente is pretty enthusiastic, although certainly increasingly throughout the sixties. If Clemente indeed wanted to sell baseball on the idea of Roberto Clemente as the best player in the league following his 1960 MVP disappointment, he definitely found a buyer in Biederman, who, well before his retirement in 1969, had proclaimed Clemente the best player he'd ever seen, a claim which - considering when he started covering the team, and even excluding the American League - takes in a nice chunk of real estate: I'm thinking Mays, Aaron, Musial, Frank Robinson, Mel Ott, Johnny Mize, Ernie Banks.):</i>

- - “In a stretch of ten [recent] games, Clemente collected 23 hits, including four homers, and two of them were the darnedest shots anybody ever saw at Forbes Field. Clemente hit one ball between the Barney Dreyfuss monument and the right-center light tower – a rarity for a right-handed slugger. This happened against the Astros with Dick Farrell pitching. (1) [It] traveled out of the park between the 435-foot sign on the right-center fence and the Barney Dreyfuss memorial to the left. It actually is center field, although the flagpole (457 feet) is regarded as dead center. The ball landed approximately 60 feet beyond the wall on a diamond where some youngsters were playing. (2) Five days later [four days actually - June 5th and 9th], he did it again. This time the ball disappeared over the monument with Al Jackson of the Cardinals on the mound, and the fans gasped. [Not only the fans – see CURT FLOOD above.] Two shots in less than one week. (3) [Each one] was a 500-foot sock, but Clemente didn’t regard [either] as his No. 1 home run.
“‘I hit one at Wrigley Field one day that left the park near the left side of the scoreboard,’ Clemente explained. ‘The next day, I measured it and I figured maybe 600 feet.’
“Clemente also regards a home run that hit the facade of the right field roof in Pittsburgh as one he’ll remember, along with one to right field in the Coliseum at Los Angeles off Sandy Koufax [see SANDY KOUFAX above] and one off Sam Jones in San Francisco. (4)

- - Clemente's Greatest Game?
“It was an unbelievable finish to an unbelievable game. It was almost like Roberto Clemente playing the Reds all by himself and coming so close to wrecking them singlehandedly. Clemente had the biggest game of his career with three home runs, a double and drove in all seven runs. But the Reds edged the Pirates, 8-7, in 10 innings on Tony Perez’ fourth straight hit.
“‘Yes, my biggest game,’ Clemente conceded in a hushed Buc clubhouse, ‘but not my best game. My best game is when I drive in the winning run. I don’t count this one, we lost.’
“Clemente was a one-man gang and kept the slim turnout of 5222 fans and the entire Cincinnati team open-mouthed in sheer admiration of his prowess with the bat. [His glove wasn’t exactly MIA either. In the bottom of the ninth, after the Bucs’ bullpen had coughed up the lead he’d handed them, Clemente climbed the fence and batted a potential walk-off home run back onto the playing field to send the game into extra innings - - see Roberto Clemente, as told to George Vass, "The Game I'll Never Forget," Baseball Digest (September 1971), p. 38.] He hit a first-inning, two-run homer to right field and came back with another two-run homer to right-center, both off Milt Pappas and Bob Veale had a two-run lead after two innings.
“When the Reds got close with three runs in the sixth inning and kayoed Veale, Clemente again took charge. He delivered a two-out, two-run double to left-center off Darrell Osteen and now the Pirate lead grew to 6-3. Pete Mikkelson got into trouble in the Reds’ seventh and gave up two more runs and, once again, Clemente came to the rescue. This time he hammered a two-out home run far over the left field fence off Gerry Arrigo and the Pirates were ahead, 7-5.
“But Lee May dropped a two-run homer into the right-center seats off Juan Pizarro to tie it up in the ninth after Pizarro [had] pitched out of a jam in the Reds’ eighth. [Then followed Clemente’s above-mentioned game-saving defensive play.]
“Then with two gone and Pete Rose on first base in the 10th, Perez lined a two-bagger off the center field wall and Rose scored easily.
“Clemente talked himself into the first two home runs off Milt Pappas. I never hit Pappas good last year and I kept convincing myself all day I would hit him,’ Clemente explained. ‘If I make up my mind to do something, I do it.’
“Clemente finished up against the Braves Sunday at Forbes Field with a triple, double and a single. Counting last night, in his last eight times at bat, he has now collared three homers, one triple, two doubles, one single and eight RBIs. In his last 12 games, he has 23 hits and 16 RBIs. His work last evening drove his average to .390. (29) [About two and a half weeks after this monumental if frustrating effort, Clemente supplied another memorable multi-HR effort, this time powering Pittsburgh to a victory over Don Drysdale and the Dodgers – see below.] (5)

- - Writing later that week:
“The night Clemente put on his show, only 5,222 fans showed up in Cincinnati. The next night, the at-tendance jumped to 13,389 and Clemente put on a display during batting practice. He lofted five of six balls out of the park in all directions and when he left the batting cage, the fans applauded.
“‘It’s the first time I’ve seen that since Ted Williams’ days with the Red Sox,’ coach Johnny Pesky remarked. Clemente left Cincinnati, trailed by admiring remarks from the Reds.
“Clemente hit a home run and a double against the Braves in Atlanta on May 20 and when the game ended, he owned a .402 average with seven homers and 27 RBIs.
“In his first 30 games, Clemente missed hitting in just four and the Pirates lost three of those four. He’s such a feared batter now that, of his 15 walks, ten were intentional.” (6)

- - Writing the following week:
- - “Don Drysdale is old enough – 31 – and has been pitching long enough – 12 years with the Dodgers – to know better than to throw at Roberto Clemente and intimidate him. Drysdale decked Clemente in a crucial situation and lived to regret it as he and the Dodgers absorbed a 4-1 defeat by the Pirates.
“The score was tied and there were Pirates on first and second with two outs in the seventh inning when Clemente came to bat. Clemente [had] fanned swinging in the first inning, singled to right in the third and [driven] a home run (No. 11) into the center-field seats in the fifth inning to account for the 1-1 tie.
“Now he came to the plate and the crowd of 39, 741 started roaring. The first pitch was high and inside and so close Clemente hit the dirt. Whether this was what Drysdale wanted to do is beside the point: it was a social error. Clemente got up quickly and you could almost read what was on his mind.
“The next two pitches were balls and then came a hurried conference with third base coach Alex Grammas. It was obvious Clemente would swing at the next serve and he did but fouled it off. The very next pitch exploded – into the left-center seats as Willie Davis looked longingly at Clemente’s 12th homer of the year and his 43rd RBI.
“‘I should have let well enough alone,’ commiserated Drysdale. ‘I shouldn't have made him that eager to swing.’
“‘We made a mistake,’ catcher Jeff Torborg admitted.
“Clemente smiled. He had just won another battle, another war. ‘I was hoping he wouldn’t walk me,’ Clemente added. ‘I wanted one good swing and I got it. It was a thrill but the biggest thrill came when I went back to the field and the [Dodger] fans applauded me. This doesn’t happen very often.’” (7)

(1) Biederman, “Veale Volunteers – Then Learns Relief Just Isn’t His Dish,” The Sporting News (June 28, 1966), p. 8
(2) Biederman, “Clemente Uses Bat to Send ‘All Well’ Message to Family,” The Sporting News (June 18, 1966), p. 15
(3) Biederman, “Veale Volunteers”
(4) Biederman, "Clemente Uses Bat...”
(5) Biederman, “Roberto Collects 3 HRs, 7 RBIs As Bucs Lose, 8-7,” The Pittsburgh Press (Tuesday, May 16, 1967), p.
(6) Biederman, “Hats Off! N.L. Player of the Week – Roberto Clemente,” The Sporting News (June 3, 1967), p. 23
(7) Biederman, “Clemente Teaches Drysdale Lesson: Roberto Gets Up and Hits 2nd HR to Defeat Dodgers,” The Pittsburgh Press (Monday, June 5, 1967), p. 40

GENE COLLIER (Sports columnist with the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette):
“I first visited [Veterans Stadium on] June 27, 1971 for a doubleheader between the exceedingly fear-some Pirates and the exceedingly awful Phillies. Willie Stargell, who two nights before had homered into section 601, located approximately in Delaware, was in the middle of a 48-homer summer. In those earliest years, there was an enormous mock Liberty Bell mounted on the facing of the upper deck in dead center, maybe 40 feet above and behind the fence, which was and is 408 feet from the plate. Roberto Clemente lined a homer off that ball that afternoon, which was, pretty clearly, unforgettable.”
- - - - Gene Collier, “, p. 10
   70. David Speed Posted: August 18, 2006 at 07:16 AM (#2145362)
REGARDING THE 5/28-30/06 ROBERTO CLEMENTE THREAD:
PART ONE - Treder / PART TWO - sunnyday 2 / PART THREE - My Two Cents</I> </I>


<U>PART ONE E:</U>

Forgive the redundancy, but I'd like to ooffer these next two with the <u>un</u>truncated attributions.

JIMMY WYNN (Speedy, 5’ 9’’ outfielder with a lot of power spent most of his career with the Houston Astros – nicknamed “The Toy Cannon”):
“My first major league game was at Forbes Field in Pittsburgh, and Roberto Clemente almost killed me! Not many people know this, but I came up as a shortstop. Clemente hit a screaming line drive, and I got my glove up just as the ball hit the left field wall.
I was one heck of a high school shortstop, but the majors were another story. After that, I told the coaches and manager to get me out of the infield.”
- - - - Al Doyle, “, p. 10
   71. David Speed Posted: August 18, 2006 at 08:01 AM (#2145375)
REGARDING THE 5/28-30/06 ROBERTO CLEMENTE THREAD:
PART ONE - Treder / PART TWO - sunnyday 2 / PART THREE - My Two Cents</I> </I>

Well, obviously what I'd like and what I can accomplish are two very different entities. And hey guys - while you've got the scissors out, maybe you could delete my spelling errors, huh? Ooffer, indeed. Ouch! Anyway, if at first you don't succeed....

JIMMY WYNN (Speedy, 5’ 9’’ outfielder with a lot of power spent most of his career with the Houston Astros – nicknamed “The Toy Cannon”):
“My first major league game was at Forbes Field in Pittsburgh, and Roberto Clemente almost killed me! Not many people know this, but I came up as a shortstop. Clemente hit a screaming line drive, and I got my glove up just as the ball hit the left field wall.
I was one heck of a high school shortstop, but the majors were another story. After that, I told the coaches and manager to get me out of the infield.”
- - - - Al Doyle, “, p. 10
   72. David Speed Posted: August 18, 2006 at 08:08 AM (#2145377)
REGARDING THE 5/28-30/06 ROBERTO CLEMENTE THREAD:
PART ONE - Treder / PART TWO - sunnyday 2 / PART THREE - My Two Cents</I> </I>

Okay, you've convinced me - no more JIMMY WYNN.

<U>PART ONE E PLUS:</U>

GENE COLLIER (Sports columnist with the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette):
“I first visited [Veterans Stadium on] June 27, 1971 for a doubleheader between the exceedingly fear-some Pirates and the exceedingly awful Phillies. Willie Stargell, who two nights before had homered into section 601, located approximately in Delaware, was in the middle of a 48-homer summer. In those earliest years, there was an enormous mock Liberty Bell mounted on the facing of the upper deck in dead center, maybe 40 feet above and behind the fence, which was and is 408 feet from the plate. Roberto Clemente lined a homer off that ball that afternoon, which was, pretty clearly, unforgettable.”
- - - - Gene Collier, “, p. 10
   73. David Speed Posted: August 18, 2006 at 08:20 AM (#2145379)
REGARDING THE 5/28-30/06 ROBERTO CLEMENTE THREAD:
PART ONE - Treder / PART TWO - sunnyday 2 / PART THREE - My Two Cents</I> </I>

Okay - Let's try this...

<U>PART ONE F:</U>

PHIL MUSICK (Pittsburgh sportswriter, radio personality and author):
“Midsummer, 1970. Wrigley [Field]. Batting practice before a Cubs’ game. Noon or so. A day so hot that in the distance beyond the Chicago tenements, the heat seems to gather in columns, like germs in a test tube.
“One by one, young Bob Robertson drives batting practice fastballs over the left field fence. Four… five… six… Even the older players stop what they’re doing to watch. Seven...eight.
“‘How you do it, old man,’ the brash Robertson snickers at a quiet Pirate next to the cage. Soft laughter rises from a nearby gaggle of players, writers and front-office types. Roberto Clemente replies with a stony look.
“Robertson hits a ninth consecutive BP home run, then skies the next pitch into a low-hanging cloud over the infield and gives way to the next hitter, his grin a challenge of sorts. Clemente replaces Robertson in the cage.
“Old Frank Oceak, the third-base coach, short-arms a 60 m.p.h. pitch tight on the hands. Clemente turns on it like a snake, catching it fatly and just so on the barrel of the thick-handled bat. It leaves Wrigley on a rising trajectory, as though it had come from the end of a .12 gauge. The ball clears the fence, the high brick wall behind it, and the width of Waveland Avenue, before striking sharply next to a tenement building window.
“Clemente flips the bat toward the mound, heel over barrel, purposely ignoring Robertson, and strides briskly off to the dugout. Excited babble trails in his wake. The young Robertson just shakes his head. In the tunnel leading from the dugout to the clubhouse, Clemente permits himself a small smile.”
- - - - Musick, Reflections on Roberto, p. 10
   74. David Speed Posted: August 18, 2006 at 08:29 AM (#2145381)
REGARDING THE 5/28-30/06 ROBERTO CLEMENTE THREAD:
PART ONE - Treder / PART TWO - sunnyday 2 / PART THREE - My Two Cents</I> </I>


<U>PART TWO A:</U>

As for Kaline, 95-99 percent of fans today would take it as an article of faith that of course Clemente was better than Kaline, and probably by a wide margin.
This amounts to underrating Kaline, who was in fact better than Clemente. -- sunnyday2


CLETE BOYER:
"If [my brother and I] changed places and Ken played in New York, he’d be in the Hall of Fame today. It’s like Roberto Clemente. He was by far the greatest defensive right fielder who ever lived, but because he played in Pittsburgh, he didn’t get the credit he deserved. I played with Roger Maris and against Al Kaline, and they were both great right fielders. But they weren’t in Clemente’s class.”
- - - - Tim McCarver with Phil Pepe, <u>Few And Chosen: Defining Cardinal Greatness Across The Eras</u> (Chicago, Triumph Books, 2003), p. 63

HAL SMITH:
"I had been with other teams before I came to the Pirates. I had been with clubs in Kansas City and before that in Baltimore. But I had never been with a ballplayer like Clemente.
“I knew he was going to be great. I saw him make plays in ’60 and I saw someone like Al Kaline try to make plays like that, and he couldn’t. Clemente could throw the ball. There were few who could throw the ball like him. Rocky Colavito could and Kaline could, and Carl Furillo and Willie Mays could, but not many of them.
“He was such a great athlete. He could stop and go. He could’ve played football. He was just a natural, instinctive ballplayer.
“If someone said, ‘Hey, Roberto, let’s go pitch horseshoes,’ he’d probably win all the time. He had great speed – he was just such a natural athlete. I was in awe of his ability."
- - - - Jim O’Brien, Maz and The 60 Bucs (Pittsburgh, James P. O’Brien – Publishing, 1993) , p. 279

AL KALINE:
"I guess the saddest things I’ve ever seen in baseball are the guys that are cut down in mid-career by freak accidents and injuries. You may not know them personally, but as an athlete you can identify with them. Like a Roberto Clemente, who, at the time of his death, was playing the best game of baseball I’d ever seen." [Clemente was, to be accurate, hardly in mid-career at the time of his death – was, in fact, a thirty-eight-year-old eighteen-year veteran. It’s a tribute to the level of Clemente’s performance at the age of thirty-eight that Kaline’s mistake is understandable.] (1)
"I’m sorry I didn’t get to know him better. I’m sure he was the best all-around right fielder to ever play the game. For the last three years, I thought he was the best player anywhere." (2)
"For me, this is the finest award I have ever received, the finest award any player could receive. I am very grateful for it.
“First, because it comes from baseball, which has been very good to me.
“Second, because it is named for Roberto Clemente, the man I consider the greatest right fielder I ever saw play. I accept it with sincere appreciation of the man for whom it is named." (3)

(1) Anthony J. Connor, <u>Baseball for the Love of It: Hall of Famers Tell It Like It Was</u> (New York, Macmillan, 1982), p. 235
(2) Watson Spoelstra, “Roberto: Blended Dignity With Skill,” The Detroit News (Tuesday, January 2, 1973), p. 1-D
(3) Jack Lang, “Proud Mrs. Clemente Presents Award,” The Sporting News (April 7, 1973), p. 37

Kaline, you poor sap! Can't you see that you're much, MUCH better than that hot dog Clemente? Surely you must know in your heart of hearts that your skills far outstrip those of that Puerto Rican pretender, Roberto 'Struggling-to-get-240-HR's' Clemente! Wait! I get it! You're sorry for him. You didn't want to hurt the feelings of the grieving widow and her fatherless children. Wow, Kaline -- now I'm really impressed -- the best right fielder of your generation and possessed of a Christlike compassion to boot... Not too shabby.
   75. David Speed Posted: August 18, 2006 at 08:40 AM (#2145382)
REGARDING THE 5/28-30/06 ROBERTO CLEMENTE THREAD:
PART ONE - Treder / PART TWO - sunnyday 2 / PART THREE - My Two Cents</I> </I>


<U>PART TWO B1:</U>

Clemente was not inner circle. The idea that he shoulda been on the all-century team is laughable. I am inclined to rate him behind Wilhelm, though I haven't figured that out yet for sure. But certainly Wilhelm was better (more uniquely skilled and valuable) at what he did than Clemente was at what he did. -- sunnyday2

==========================================<u>PLAYERS</u>=========================================

HANK AARON:
“Clemente has the misfortune of playing in a big park. If he played in a smaller one, there’s no telling how many home runs he’d hit.” (1)
“Clemente, in my book, was a great hitter. He had no weakness. He had all the tools, the good glove and the great arm. He’d fool you as a hitter; he was stronger than he looked.
“He had a batting stance that was a little peculiar. He had a little crouch in his stance, and when he swung at the ball, his rear popped out and he looked like he was almost jumping at the ball. He always got a lot of the fat part of the bat on the ball, though, and he hit more and more long balls at the end of his career.” (2)
"I don’t know how you can relate current players to the likes of Ty Cobb or Babe Ruth or Willie Mays. I’m sure 50 or 100 years from now, people will say, ‘Hey, Ken Griffey Jr. belongs on that list.’
“One of the greatest who ever played was Roberto Clemente. How many votes will he get? I don't know. It’s hard to name nine outfielders." (3)

(1) George Vass, “Viva Roberto,” Ebony (September 1967), p. 39
(2) Henry Aaron with Furman Bisher, <u>Aaron</u> (New York, Thomas Y. Crowell Company, 1974), p. 171
(3) Rob Biertempfel, “Pirates Notebook - Pirates reach milestones of their own Wednesday,” The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review (08/06/1999)</i>

RICHIE ASHBURN:
“He was the best right fielder I ever saw in 40 years. (1) He was the best outfielder period.” (2)
“It hurt him not to be recognized as the greatest player there was. He recognized it and the players recognized it, but the fans and the media weren’t always aware.” (3)

(1) Norman Macht, <u>Roberto Clemente</u> (Langhorne, Chelsea House Publishers, 1994), P. 46
(2) Bruce Keidan, “Roberto Clemente: Baseball’s Magificent Militant,” The Philadelphia Inquirer (Tuesday, January 2, 1973), p. 4-D
(3) Ibid

BARRY BONDS:
“When I’m done, I want people to say, ‘He’s the best.’ Right field belongs to Roberto Clemente, center field belongs to Willie Mays. I want left field to belong to me.”
- - - - Mike Florence, “Just Because You’re Paranoid Doesn’t Mean You’re Wrong,” The Los Angeles Times (Saturday, September 5, 1992), p. 2

LARRY DOBY:
“I’d have to name you a few people who I thought were probably the greatest [players I saw in my lifetime] – Josh Gibson, Satchel Paige and Buck Leonard when I played in the Negro Leagues. As for the major leagues, Willie Mays, Mickey Mantle, Joe DiMaggio, Roberto Clemente and Hank Aaron were all great players. For me to single out one player who was better than all those players is hard. I’d probably have to put Willie Mays in that category as the best all-around player who did five things – hitting for average, baserunning, fielding, throwing and hitting for power – better than most people.”
- - - - Mike May, “Larry Doby Speaks On Being First Black In Major Leagues,” New Pittsburgh Courier (March 12, 1997), p. B5

DON DRYSDALE:
“Roberto was a great player. He could do everything. He could run. He could hit. He could throw. He could hit with power. He was a great outfielder.” (1)
“It looked easy to pitch to him; it wasn’t. It was impossible.” (2)

(1) Ron Gerrard, “At Tribute Plans Announced To Erect Roberto Clemente Statue At Three Rivers,” New Pittsburgh Courier – National Edition (Pittsburgh, Sep 12, 1992), Vol. 83, Issue 74, p. C-1
(2) Phil Musick, Reflections on Roberto (Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh Associates DBA, 1994), p. 10

BOB FRIEND:
“I think the way Clemente played – running out every hit and running recklessly into the wall – he realized he needed some time off and he took it. So many times I saw him catch balls that went into the gap and he’d personally keep the other guy from getting that extra base. For a pitcher, that was some-thing that was really appreciated. An average outfielder many times will give up the extra base. Often that’s the difference between winning and losing.
“At Forbes Field, we had one of the toughest right fields to play in baseball. Clemente could play the ball off that cement wall. Clemente would cut off the ball before it could get to the wall; he’d [not only] keep it from being a triple – [sometimes] he’d hold it to a single.” (1)
- “He looked so unorthodox at the plate. He was always gyrating, his ass would fly out, and he’d fall down when he swung and missed. Somebody like Don Drysdale would knock him down. He’d get up and hit a line drive [or more – see DON DRYSDALE above LES BIEDERMAN in <u>PART ONE</u> (2)
“Roberto stood a long way from the plate. It looked as if you could pitch him away. But when I would pitch him away, his hands were already out there ready to go. He could really pull the trigger. Similar to great hitters such as Hank Aaron, Eddie Matthews and Stan Musial, Roberto could swing the bat at the last minute.” (3)
“His greatest performances were at Wrigley Field. He didn’t hit as many home runs as some of the big hitters of his day – like Aaron, Mays and Frank Robinson – but he had good power, and I saw him hit the centerfield scoreboard many times in Chicago. [Friend’s a little confused on this point. While Clemente is indeed one of only two players in the twentieth century {and three players ever – taking into account the juiced-up Sammy Sosa duplicating Clemente’s shot during the 2003 playoffs} to have even come close to hitting Wrigley’s scoreboard, no ball has ever actually hit it ... well, no baseball that is – see PHILIP J. LOWRY in <u>PART ONE</u>.] (4)

(1) Jim O'Brien, Remember Roberto: Roberto Clemente Recalled by Teammates, Family, Friends and Fans (Pittsburgh, James P. O’Brien – Publishing, 1994), p. 151
(2) Ibid
(3) Danny Torres, Interview with Bob Friend (www.robertoclemente21.com/html/bob_friend.html)
(4) O’Brien, p. 151

TONY GWYNN:
"I was surprised [that Clemente didn't make it onto the All-Century Team]. He was a complete player. Even as a kid, I realized he could play. But he never got the attention a Willie Mays does, a Hank Aaron does, as any of the other guys in that era – as Mickey Mantle does.
"But there weren’t many guys who could throw better, hit better than him, hit for average, hit for power, play better defense. He was as complete a player as there ever has been that played this game."
- - - - Joe Rutter, “World Series Notebook – Why was there no Roberto?” The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review (10/27/1999)

RICHIE HEBNER:
“Me and some of the other guys were probably making the minimum, $12,500, and here’s Clemente – a guy making $150,000. Some guys who make this money might dog it a bit, but when he hit one back even to the pitcher he’d run to first like the cops were chasin’ him. I remember thinkin’ to myself, ‘Hell, if that guy can do it, I’m gonna do it.’ Let me tell you, it’s hard to go out there every day, but once Clemente crossed over the white line onto the field, I think his philosophy was: If you’re going to go half-ass, no sense doing it. Maybe he made mistakes when he was younger, but in my years with him I don’t think he made a handful of mental mistakes. He threw to the right base, hit the cut-off man, took the extra base when he should, hit behind the runner, sacrificed himself at the plate. Guy on second he’d hit the ball and move the runner along. Next thing, there’s a wild pitch or a sacrifice fly and we win the game. A lot of people leave the ballpark and say, ‘Well, Clemente didn’t do nothing today.’ But Clemente was the guy who hit the guy over to third. And out in the field, not many guys tried going from first to third on him. He’d fire it in accurate, right on the bag. I tagged plenty of guys with two minutes to spare!” (1)
“He was a line-drive hitter. If he’d been more of a home-run hitter, he’d have gotten more publicity. He was tough to pitch to. When they pitched him inside, he hit to left. When they pitched outside, he hit to right like it was nothing. Other players would ask, ‘Is it that easy?’” (2)
“He played 18 years in the big leagues, had a lifetime batting average of .317. If this guy played in New York, Chicago, or L.A., he would have walked on Lake Michigan. I mean I had the privilege of playing four years with the man. I tell ya, he did a lot of things right to win ballgames. He made very few mental mistakes. Not the flashiest guy, didn’t hit 35 home runs a year, but he could beat you in a lot of ways. He was like a guy up where I live [in Walpole, Massachusetts] that I watched for a long time – Larry Bird. Larry Bird could do a lot of things to win [basketball] games. Clemente was the same type of player.” (3)
“He was good to players. He never forgot. If you hurt your back, six months later, he would ask you, ‘How’s your back?” (4)
“In the clubhouse, where he knew everybody, that’s where you saw his sense of humor. He was in the Marine Corps Reserve for about six months, and he’d get to talking about how tough the Marines were, and oh, he was funny. Strange thing is, he still knew the names of his three Marine drill instructors! Tony would get him on the rubbing table and he’d talk and talk. There’d be twenty-five guys in the room, crowded around, and if you wanted to put in a couple of words, ‘No! I haven’t finished yet!’ He could talk for an hour. The game would start at eight and he’d be in the trainer’s room at five minutes of, with no uniform on. Eight o’clock he’s out on the field. Got dressed faster than any player I’ve ever seen. Then he’d get up the first time and hit a line drive you wouldn’t believe. He had three hits before he got up in the morning! Fantastic.” (5)
“I look at my hand and see my World Series ring. It takes 25 guys to make a team, but I know who put that ring over my knuckle – Roberto Clemente.” (6)

(1) Wagenheim, Clemente, pp. 159-160
(2) Harold Kaese, “Press Ignored Clemente, Cooperstown Won’t,” The Boston Globe (Wednesday, January 3, 1973), p. 51
(3) Markusen, <u>Roberto Clemente: The Great One</u>, pp. 339-340
(4) Kaese, p. 51
(5) Wagenheim, p.160
(6) Kaese, p. 51
   76. David Speed Posted: August 18, 2006 at 08:49 AM (#2145383)
REGARDING THE 5/28-30/06 ROBERTO CLEMENTE THREAD:
PART ONE - Treder / PART TWO - sunnyday 2 / PART THREE - My Two Cents</I> </I>


<U>PART TWO B2:</U>

FERGUSON JENKINS:
“The two best batters in my first seven years in the National League were the late Roberto Clemente and Hank Aaron. [Jenkins is not suggesting here that he faced tougher batters later in his career, but rather simply acknowledging Clemente’s death and Aaron’s move to the American League – making his evaluations of them all the more impressive, since he was seeing them near the ends of their respective careers. In fact, Jenkins, responding to a 1995 Baseball Digest survey, named Clemente as the toughest batter he ever faced.] These men were gifted with natural ability more than others. Each one of them, day in and day out, year after year, did his job superlatively. They made very few mistakes as hitters, they did not try to overpower the ball, but they hit it as far and as often as any batters ever have.
“Aaron and Clemente were the true superstars of the National League. They ran, threw, hit, and did everything required of a baseball player as well as it could be done. If they went without a hit on one day, you knew that they were going to get three or four the next. Their ability was natural, but they worked hard to maintain it.” (1)
“I had a lot of success against Willie [Stargell]. I can’t say how many home runs he may have hit against me, but I had good success against Pittsburgh in general. Roberto Clemente gave me all the problems there. (2) He’d come up with a big hit in the eighth or ninth inning to beat me 2-1 or 3-2 with a double. He had that knack. He beat a lot of people, but when the Cubs faced Pittsburgh – and I would get five or six starts against them – I just knew psychologically Pittsburgh was the team we had to beat, and unfortunately, I didn’t have a winning record against them. I can remember a game against the Pirates I was winning 1-0 in Chicago – a short fly ball was hit to right field, Johnny Callison misjudged it, and then Clemente came up and hit a home run. I can see it like yesterday." (3)

(1) Ferguson Jenkins and George Vass, <u>Like Nobody Else: The Fergie Jenkins Story</u> (Chicago, Henry Regnery Company, 1973), p. 210
(2) Art Rust, Jr., <u>Legends: Conversations With Baseball Greats</u> (New York, McGraw-Hill, 1989), p. 170
(3) Peter Golenbock, <u>Wrigleyville: A Magical History Tour of the Chicago Cubs</u> (New York, St. Martin’s Press, 1996), pp. 421-422

SANDY KOUFAX:
“Mays always told me how hard it was to get a hit off me and every time I looked up, he was on second base. Yet, even with Mays, I had an idea what to do. When I pitched to Clemente and Aaron, I had no idea. They seemed to hit everything.” (1)
“Mays was the best player I ever saw. Aaron was the best hitter. But that raises the question of where you put Clemente – with Willie, with Henry? He’s right there.” (2)

(1) Les Biederman, “Koufax Still a Champion,” The Pittsburgh Press (Monday, May 8, 1967), p.36
(2) Ross Newhan, “Koufax Stands Up and Delivers,” The Los Angeles Times (Monday, October 25, 1999), p. 13

EDDIE MATHEWS:
“Another guy that never got attention was Roberto Clemente. He was something else. He had a great arm and he could hit. He was a little more flamboyant than Hank [Aaron], but not like Mays. Willie constantly threw to the wrong base, though, or overthrew the cutoff man to show off his arm. We always kept running on Willie. Don’t get me wrong, he was a great player, but I would take Aaron or Clemente over Mays any time.” (1)
“Clemente was the toughest out in the National League during his prime.” (2)

(1) Eddie Mathews and Bob Buege, <u>Eddie Mathews and the National Pastime</u> (Milwaukee, Douglas American Sports Publications, 1994), p. 182
(2) Wayne Minshew, “Superstar Label Fit Clemente,” The Atlanta Constitution (Tuesday, January 2, 1973), p. 1-C

WILLIE MAYS:
"When we speak of great baseball players, Roberto Clemente’s name is always present. We cannot say enough about Roberto. I saw him when he started in Santurce, Puerto Rico. I saw him several times in the major leagues. He was a tremendous ballplayer.” (1)
“I think I was the best ballplayer I’ve ever seen. I feel nobody in the world could do what I could do on a baseball field. I hope I’m not saying anything wrong, but you have to think you’re the best. [After myself], the next one would be Roberto Clemente.” (2)

(1) Luis Mayoral, “The Man - Roberto Clemente,” (http://www.latinobaseball.com/mlb/articles/ clemente.html), go to <u>New Page 1</u>
(2) Dave Anderson, “The Most Natural Ballplayer,” New York Times (Jan. 24, 1979), p. A17

BILL MAZEROSKI:
"There are few players who can win a baseball game in as many different ways as Roberto Clemente.
"He’s the total ballplayer. A lot of players are tagged superstars when they are really just super-hitters. Take Willie McCovey. A super-hitter, but he can’t run and field exceptionally well. He’s adequate in those areas and he hits 40 or so home runs and drives in over a hundred runs most years, but I wouldn’t call him a superstar. No, when you’re discussing superstars, you’re talking Willie Mays, Henry Aaron and Clemente.
"There are no flaws in Clemente’s game. He hits the ball more viciously to the opposite field than anyone I’ve ever seen. He throws the ball accurately over 400 feet and he has few peers as a baserunner. And he is as fine a right fielder as Willie Mays is a center fielder, to me the supreme compliment.
"In my mind, Mays is the greatest player of the last 25 years and I rank Clemente behind him, right behind him. Roberto hasn’t hit as many home runs as Mays or Aaron, but they have played in hitter’s parks, while he spent 14 years looking into the biggest centerfield expanse in the major leagues at Forbes Field. He realized Forbes Field was built for line drive hitters and he tailored his batting style to it from the beginning. Mays steals more bases than Roberto but outside of that and the long ball, there is very little from which to choose between them."
- - - - Bill Mazeroski, “My 16 Years with Roberto Clemente,” Sport (November 1971), pp. 60-63

JOE MORGAN:
“Over and over again, I have said Willie Mays is the greatest baseball player I ever saw. But Mays always says Roberto Clemente was the greatest player he ever played against. And other players have agreed with his opinion. (1) Mays and Robin Roberts both told me that Clemente was the best player they ever saw. (2)
“In 1971, I was playing for the Houston Astros in a game against Roberto Clemente’s Pirates. With two out in the eighth and Pittsburgh leading 1-0, I was on first with our left fielder Bob Watson at the plate. Clemente was playing medium deep in right center field when Bob hit a laser beam toward the right field corner. It looked as though the ball would strike just above the yellow home run line, which was only 10 feet above the ground. Most right fielders would have positioned themselves to play off the wall a ball hit that high, that far, and that fast. Clemente, who was 36 at the time, wasn’t having any of that. He galloped at full stride into the corner, leaped, and caught the drive while crashing into the fence. The inning was over, the Pittsburgh lead preserved. It was a memorable catch, the kind of brazen, heart-breaking play Roberto Clemente made repeatedly throughout his career.”(3)

(1) Joe Morgan, “Clemente carried himself with dignity,” ESPN.com: Baseball (sports.espn.go.com/espn/print?id=1436631&type=columnist, Thursday, September 26, 2002)
(2) Joe Morgan with Richard Lally, <u>Baseball for Dummies</u> (Foster City, IDG Books Worldwide, 1998), p. 310
(3) Ibid, pp. 329-330

MANNY MOTA:
“Clemente and I, we played together for about six years – from 1963 to 1968. In my opinion, Roberto Clemente was the best player I’ve ever seen playing this game.” (1)
“I played with Willie Mays, and I played with Roberto Clemente, and what I see in Barry [Bonds] is the same ability I saw in Willie and Roberto. I see a guy who trusts himself at the plate and in the field – [a guy who], if I managed, I wouldn’t let him beat me. I wouldn’t give him the opportunity.” (2)

(1) Rich Domich, director and Ouisie Shapiro, writer, <u>Roberto: A Video Tribute to One of Baseball’s Greatest Players and a True Humanitarian</u> [videorecording] (South Hasckensack, Major League Baseball Productions, 1993)
(2) John Shea, “The brightest among stars - One star outshines the others,” San Francisco Chronicle (05/11/00), p. E1

JOHNNY PODRES:
“He would hit pitches thrown over his head, down by his ankles, inside, outside. I’d get two quick strikes on him and never get the third one. (1) I would throw him a breaking ball in the dirt, he'd pick it up, hitting the ball over the 1st baseman’s head. I’d throw him a fastball up and in, he would hit it down the left-field line. (2) No matter where I threw it, he’d hit it. (3) When it came to pitching to Roberto, I'd like to keep the other guys off the bases. I had pretty good luck against Pittsburgh, but it comes back to Roberto.” (4)
“If a double was needed, he would go for that. If there were two out and the Pirates needed a run, he would go for the home run. But he would not swing for the fences if his team was down by 3 or 4 runs. He would just try to get on base. That’s a team player.” (5)
“He's probably one of the greatest players who ever lived outside of Willie Mays. In my opinion, Mays was the greatest player I ever saw. Yet, I'd have to say Roberto would probably be the next one.” (6) [On this point, he’s in complete agreement with Mays - see WILLIE MAYS above]

(1) Macht, <u>Roberto Clemente</u>, pp. 42-43
(2) Danny Torres, Interview with Johnny Podres (http://www.robertoclemente21.com/html/johnny_podres.html)
(3) Macht, pp. 42-43
(4) Torres, Interview with Johnny Podres
(5) Macht, p.43
(6) Torres
   77. David Speed Posted: August 18, 2006 at 08:55 AM (#2145385)
REGARDING THE 5/28-30/06 ROBERTO CLEMENTE THREAD:
PART ONE - Treder / PART TWO - sunnyday 2 / PART THREE - My Two Cents</I> </I>


<U>PART TWO B3:</U>

BROOKS ROBINSON:
“If you talked to 10 players, they would all say he was the best in the game and I would have to go along with them, just on what he’s done. In ability, he was the best all-around player in either league last season [1971]. I knew he was good, but I didn’t know he was this good.” (1)
“The thing that impressed me the most, you hear about someone who can do all these wonderful things and then in the showcase of baseball, he goes out and does this. It was unbelievable. He did those things in the World Series. I had seen him in spring training and in All-Star Games and you know he’s a great player. But then having him do those very things in the World Series against you, that’s what it’s all about. (2) To be able to do all of those things you hear a guy can do when everyone is watching … I mean that’s the epitome of being the best player there is.” (3)

(1) Markusen, <u>Roberto Clemente: The Great One</u>, p.283
(2) Phil Pepe, <u>Talkin' Baseball: An Oral History of Baseball in the 1970s</u> (New York, Ballantine Books, 1998), p. 59
(3) Mitchell Scherr, producer, <u>Major League Baseball - 100 Years of the World Series</u> (New York, Major League Productions, 2003), chapter eight – Pitching and Fielding

FRANK ROBINSON:
“He didn’t see any pitch that he didn’t like or that he couldn’t hit. In the field, he was like Barry Bonds with the bat.” (1)
“He was a player you couldn’t take your eyes off of. (2) You’d watch him and find yourself saying to the guy next to you, ‘Did you see that?’” (3)
“[During the 1971 World Series], they got on his back, and he carried the team. He said, ‘I’m not going to let my team lose.’” (4)

(1) Robert Dvorchak, “Pirates Report 7/11/04 ,” The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette</i > (Sunday, July 11, 2004)
(2) “Legacy of Clemente Lives On,” <i>The Washington Times
(April 13, 2003), p. C1
(3) Wendel, <u>The New Face of Baseball: The One-Hundred-Year Rise and Triumph of Latinos in America's Favorite Sport</u>, p. 30
(4) Tracy Ringolsby, “CAN HE LIVE UP TO CLEMENTE NAME? ROCKIES’ FINE PROSPECT HAVING TROUBLE CARRYING ON LEGACY OF HIS UNCLE,” The Rocky Mountain News (March 14, 1998), p. 1C

DUKE SNIDER:
“Carl [Furillo was the best right fielder I ever saw until Roberto Clemente came along, and Clemente was possibly the best ballplayer I’ve ever seen. And just think that we could have had Clemente in our outfield."
- - - - Duke Snider with Phil Pepe, <u>Few And Chosen: Defining Dodger Greatness Across the Eras</u> (Chicago, Triumph Books, 2006), p. 113

WILLIE STARGELL:
“The best and most complete ballplayer I’ve ever seen is Roberto Clemente. He responds in any situation and the guy will come up with a base hit in any situation, or a catch, or a throw, or whatever you need.” (1)
“I learned how to play the game from him, and it was kinda like he passed a baton or torch to me, like how to win. There are certain things you must do to win. It’s a big thing. Guys come in every year who have talent. But it’s more than just talent. It’s not something that’s easy to define, or to find.
“But we did it. We knew how to win. First of all, he’d teach us and show us how to do little things, like to be aggressive going into the corner after a ball. In order to do that, he’d take me out in the field, and show me the mechanics. He’d walk through the motions, and talk about the right steps and when to start bending – the positioning, how to maintain your balance, all that stuff. There was always a backup system, too, depending on what the baserunners did. And he’d talk about how to catch a fly ball and how to throw the ball. It’s what I teach young kids today. I’d challenge anyone to go against his theory. Dave Parker was very accurate and I was very accurate. Clemente taught us how to do it right. (2)
“I run into people who had a chance to see him play and they come up to me and say they love the Pirates. Then they’ll invariably say something like, ‘No offense, but Clemente was my favorite player on the Pirates.’ I say, ‘No reason to apologize. He was that to me, too.’ (3) He was the best player I ever saw. " (4)

(1) Jack Smith, “Why the Pirates Are Champs,” The San Francisco Chronicle (Thursday, August 24, 1972), p. 56
(2) O'Brien, Remember Roberto, p. 241
(3) Ibid, p. 242
(4) Ron Musselman, “Proud Pop: Stargell helps lead young Bucs,” The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review (04/21/1997)

RUSTY STAUB:
“Clemente has fantastic power, fantastic speed, a fantastic ability to hit the ball to the opposite field, a fantastic arm – he is the complete ballplayer.
“Roberto is not merely good at everything, but great at everything. (1) [He’s] the best defensive outfielder I’ve ever seen. I’ve never been on his ballclub and I don’t know what he’s like as a team player, but this guy can do just everything to beat you – run, hit, throw, catch, and just kill you with power. Clemente does it all. (2) He just beats you, and beats you at everything you can do in baseball. I know of no other player comparable to him. (3) He’s the best player I’ve seen in the big leagues.” (4)

(1) John C. Wilson, “Clemente is Staub’s Selection as Greatest All-Round Player,” The Sporting News (April 27, 1968), p. 5
(2) Rusty Staub as told to John Robertson, “More to Defense Than Catching the Ball,” Baseball Digest (December 1971), p. 56
(3) Wilson, p. 5
(4) Staub, p. 56

BILL VIRDON:
“There’s no doubt that Roberto’s the greatest right fielder in baseball. It’s phenomenal the way he plays the tricky wall in Forbes Field. He takes ordinary doubles off it and throws the runners out at second. He’ll snap throws to first and pick them off when they round the bag wide. He has real strong hands and the best arm in the business.” (1)
“Nobody in the National League had an arm like his, for strength and accuracy.” (2)
“I can’t say anything bad about [playing in the outfield alongside Clemente]. (3) I played in the outfield with Roberto Clemente all ten years I played with Pittsburgh. Usually a center fielder will call the other fielder on a catchable ball, but with Clemente on your side, you don’t get carried away with that. And you’d know Roberto would be there if you were not able to get it. (4) Nothing to my left side went undone. I knew if something went that way, it would be taken care of.” (5)
“There was never anybody better at his position than Clemente. In my time playing, managing, watching, he was simply the best in the business, not only because he could catch a ball better than anyone – which he could – or because his arm was so strong, but in every phase of play. He did everything exceptionally well and then his judgment was even better than that. He always threw to the right base, he was always where he was supposed to be, backing up, taking balls off the most difficult fences. His arm was powerful, but it was also deadly accurate. Nobody ran on him and when they did, it was from ignorance, not knowledge. Usually the ones who tried him were the young guys or the guys who were just coming into the league – the rest of the league simply didn’t run on him.
“He knew the outfields he played in, he knew the hitters and pitchers, what was going on in a game perfectly. He came in on a ball, went back to the wall, always knowing what he was doing. (6) Only once in ten years did we have a problem communicating. Once in the 1960 World Series, the fans were so loud, screaming so much, that we couldn’t hear each other and we ran together. I caught the ball, though I had to peek to see if I had it in my glove. (7) [So] in that whole time, in ten years of playing with him, [aside from that one close call], we never collided or lost a ball in confusion.” (8)

(1) Devaney, “Roberto Clemente: Pounder from Puerto Rico,” from <u>Baseball Stars of 1964 (New York, Pyramid Books, 1964)</u>, p. 148
(2) Macht, <u>Roberto Clemente</u>, p.46
(3) O’Brien, Remember Roberto, p. 154
(4) John T. Bird, <u>Twin Killing: the Bill Mazeroski Story</u> (Birmingham, Esmerelda Press, 1995), p. 41
(5) O’Brien, p. 154
(6) David Falkner, <u>Nine Sides of the Diamond: Baseball’s Glove Men on the Fine Art of Defense</u> (New York, Times Books, 1990), pp. 230-231
(7) Bird, p. 41
(8) Falkner, pp. 230-231

MAURY WILLS:
“I’ve been asked if I ever saw anyone better than Willie Mays. The answer is, yes. Roberto Clemente was much better than Willie Mays. It wasn’t just his arm. He could do everything better.”
- - - - Maury Wills and Mike Celizic, <u>On the Run: The Never Dull and Often Shocking Life of Maury Wills</u> (New York, Carroll and Graf Publishers, 1991), p. 185

Well, whaddya want from a bunch of stupid players? They should be seen and not heard. I mean, players are paid to play, not to think, right? Hey, that gives me an idea: we've heard from the brawn, let's go to the brains - the managers and coaches. They've got to run the game, see the big picture. They won't get caught up in the razzle-dazzle, the cheap thrills. Nosir. Now we'll get a rational appraisal...
   78. David Speed Posted: August 18, 2006 at 09:03 AM (#2145386)
REGARDING THE 5/28-30/06 ROBERTO CLEMENTE THREAD:
PART ONE - Treder / PART TWO - sunnyday 2 / PART THREE - My Two Cents</I> </I>


<U>PART TWO B4:</U>

================================<u>HIS MANAGERS AND COACHES </u>====================================

BOBBY BRAGAN [1956-57]:
“The best way to describe Roberto Clemente is to say that if he were playing in New York, they’d be comparing him to DiMaggio. I would say his greatness is limited only by the fact that he does not hit the long ball as consistently and by the fact that he is not playing in New York – or even in Chicago or Los Angeles.” (1)
- “Roberto Clemente was the best right fielder I saw play in the majors. Not the best hitter, but the best right fielder!” (2)

(1) Myron Cope, “Aches and Pains and Three Batting Titles,” Sports Illustrated (March 7, 1966), pp. 76-80
(2) O’Brien, Remember Roberto, p. 347

DANNY MURTAUGH [1957-64, 1967, 1970-71]:
“Two catches Roberto made stand out in my mind. Each came at the risk of great personal injury and each had a vital part in the winning of a pennant although they were eleven years apart. We were in a scoreless tie with the New York [sic] Giants in Forbes Field late in the 1960 season when Willie Mays tagged one. Roberto turned his back on the ball and raced back, knowing he could not avoid crashing into an unpadded wall. He still made the catch, saved the game and wound up with a dozen stitches.
“Late [bottom of the eighth inning] in a tie game [actually the Pirates were ahead 1-0] with Houston during our pennant drive of 1971, Bob Watson hit one deep along the right field line. Two were out and the winning run was on its way home [In fact, the tying run, in the form of Joe Morgan, was on its way home from first base while the go-ahead run, in the form of Watson, was going to score if Clemente could not keep his shot in the ballpark] when Roberto tore across the field at full speed and made the cash as he crashed [leaped face-first] into the wall. He was knocked groggy, but still hit a game-winning home run in the next inning. [The score, as indicated above, was 1-0 at this point and the Pirates went on to win the game 3-0. Much as I love the two-run homer as the topper to this story, Clemente actually went 0-for-4 and the insurance runs scored on hits by Hebner and Sanguillen. Murtaugh has inadvertantly combined this game and the next day’s, in which Clemente did indeed hit a game-winning two-run homer. Murtaugh’s confusion about the game situation notwithstanding, what remains undisputed is the monumental nature of this game-saving catch, confirmed by the initial stunned silence and ensuing thunderous applause issuing forth from the hometown Houston fans.] (1)
“You know what we used to call him? We called him ‘The Great One.’ He was the best player I’ve ever seen and I say that with all due respect to Aaron, Musial and Mays. Clemente was also my intermediary. He had an important influence on the Latin American players on our club. If I saw one was going astray, I’d call Roberto into my office. He’d say, ‘Give me two or three days,’ and that would be the end of the problem.
“Roberto Clemente, to me, was a compassionate man. He was a man of two faces. In the clubhouse, he was the center of all the funny stories. He’d hold court in front of his locker and there was always gaiety and laughter. When the time came for the game, Roberto would put on his other face – the disturbed face he always wore when he was concentrating completely on winning a baseball game. That’s why I say the fans never knew the real Roberto Clemente.” (2)

(1) O’Brien, Remember Roberto, p. 108
(2) O’Brien, Maz and The 60 Bucs, p. 18

JOHNNY PESKY (Pirate coach [1965-66] who could boast an outstanding major league career of his own – .307 lifetime average with an OBP of .394 – spent mostly with the Boston Red Sox as a teammate of and “table-setter” for Ted Williams, with whom – after the 1950 season – he shared the distinction of being one of only two players in major league history to have scored a hundred runs or more in their first six seasons):
“Amazing. The only other batter I ever saw who gets good wood on the ball as consistently as Clemente was Ted Williams. (1) Clemente simply is a natural hitter. He’s hard to fool and ready at all times.” (2)
“I used to tell Roberto that he was as good as Ted Williams. And that was something [coming] from me. Williams was a god to me and I was putting Roberto in the same class with him. I saw him make plays that were just about impossible, and I was forever praising him and he loved every second of it. Great kid, wonderful player. Probably as good a player as ever played the game. He could run, hit, throw, hit home runs. I had Stargell out a couple of times for extra hitting, but Clemente didn’t need it. He was just so good. When you talk about Clemente, you’re talking about Mays. He was a hell of a player.” (3)
“Clemente to me was not only a great player, but a great human being. He was God’s gift to baseball. He was extremely good to the coaching staff and gave us every courtesy.” (4)

(1) Les Biederman, “Roberto Hot On the Trail Of Bat Title,” The Sporting News (July 24, 1965), p. 9
(2) Biederman, “Clemente Hot Candidate for 3rd Bat Title,” The Sporting News (August 14, 1965), p. 11
(3) Bill Nowlin, <u>Mr. Red Sox: The Johnny Pesky Story</u> (Cambridge, Rounder Books, 2004), p. 241
(4) O’Brien, Remember Roberto, p. 346

HARRY WALKER [1965-67]:
“The best, the very best; one of the few who is a complete player – great bat, great arm, great glove, excellent runner, a hustler … What more do you want?
“He's a great player for a manager. He leads by deeds and he forces the other teams into errors. He helps in so many ways. He's exceptional.
“Counting what he did last year [1966 – Clemente’s MVP year], I believe he's the best I ever saw. He has tremendous pride and he can transmit that pride to others.”
- - - - Les Biederman, “Hot Clemente Sparks Pirates to 7-4 Victory,” The Pittsburgh Press (Thursday, May 25, 1967) p. 50

BILL VIRDON [1972]:
“Everything has been harder this year [1973]. Tempers have gotten away. We haven’t been able to hit the tough pitchers like [Wayne] Twitchell and Seaver. That is where we miss Clemente more than anything, because he could hit the good pitchers. He hit them better than anybody else. [Al] Oliver can hit them maybe in the seventh inning, but Clemente would hit them right off. His steady bat set the tone for our other hitters.”
- - - - Bob Adelman and Susan Hall, <u>Out of Left Field: Willie Stargell’s Turning Point Season</u> (Boston, Little Brown, 1974) p. 126

Well, what do you expect? These guys worked with him, they got to know him and everything -- they're gonna be biased, whatever... Let's look elsewhere around the majors. Maybe we can get some perspective, some objectivity...
   79. David Speed Posted: August 18, 2006 at 09:14 AM (#2145387)
REGARDING THE 5/28-30/06 ROBERTO CLEMENTE THREAD:
PART ONE - Treder / PART TWO - sunnyday 2 / PART THREE - My Two Cents</I> </I>


<U>PART TWO B5:</U>

===============================<u>OPPOSING MANAGERS AND COACHES</u>=================================

SPARKY ANDERSON:
“Walking away… Roberto Clemente is my premier outfielder – period. (1) In my 22 years as a manager, I never saw a better player than Roberto Clemente. No player at any position could do anything better than he did it.” (2)
“Everyone talks about Mays being the greatest. I never got to see Mays in his prime so I can’t make a judgment. (3) [On the other hand,] I saw more of Clemente than I wanted to when I managed against him. (4) [So] I can honestly say that the greatest opposing player I ever saw was Bobby Clemente. Bobby could do more things than any player I’ve ever seen. (5) He could hit for power when he had to. When he wanted to slap it to right, he shot the ball like a bullet. Plus, he could fly. When he hit a ground ball to the infield, he was flying to first. That fielder better not be napping. (6) People didn’t realize how fast he was. He only stole bases if it meant something. (7) [And of course,] Roberto Clemente wrote the book about playing right field. He made every play he also knew how to trick you. Preston Gomez warned me about that when I coached third base for him at San Diego in 1969. He told me to watch Clemente on a base hit to right with the runner rounding second. (8) ‘Clemente’ll play a game with you. If we have a man on first and there's a base hit to right field, he'll pretend to be loafing in on it. The moment you start to wave for that runner to come to third – look out, there’s gonna be an explosion.’ Well, sure enough, I don’t know what inning it was, but the situation came up, he put me in his trap and I did it. And let me tell you, my runner was about two-thirds of the way to third when the ball arrived. I came into the dugout and Preston was laughing. He said, ‘What did I tell you?’ But that was Roberto. There wasn't anything he couldn’t do. (9)

(1) Sparky Anderson with Dan Ewald, <u>Sparky!</u> (New York, Prentice Hall Press/ Simon and Schuster, 1990), p. 196
(2) Macht, <u>Roberto Clemente</u>, p. 48
(3) Victor Debs, Jr., <u>That Was Part of Baseball Then: Interviews With 24 Former Major League Baseball Players, Coaches & Managers</u> (McFarland & Company, Inc. Publishers, 2002), p. 191
(4) Anderson, <u>Sparky</u>, p. 196
(5) Debs, <u>That Was Part of Baseball Then</u>, p. 191
(6) Anderson, p. 196
(7) Douglas Heuck and Dan Fitzpatrick, “Pittsburgh's Claim to Fame: Hall-of-Famers Tell of Times In Our City,” The Pittsburgh Quarterly (Winter 2006)
(8) Anderson, p.204
(9) Debs, p. 191

DAVE BRISTOL:
“I never saw him make an easy out in the year and a half I’ve seen him.” (1)
“The best player in the game today. I’d have to take him over Aaron and all the rest.” (2)

(1) Les Biederman, “Young Reds Manager Most Successful So Far,” The Pittsburgh Press (May 16, 1967), p.35
(2) Markusen, <u>Roberto Clemente: The Great One</u>, pp. 161-162

WHITEY LOCKMAN:
“Clemente is one of the three best hitters I’ve seen among those I’ve had a chance to watch on a regular basis. The others were Stan Musial and Hank Aaron. I never had a chance to see much of Ted Williams. [Johnny Pesky not only saw but played alongside Williams for seven years and places Clemente right up there with him - - see JOHNNY PESKY above]
- - - - George Langford, “Pirate Guns Scuttle Cubs, Fergie 6-4,” The Chicago Tribune (Thursday, September 14, 1972), p. C1

DANNY OZARK:
“He studied everything and he remembered everything. He knew every pitcher and every hitter – whether the hitter had power, where the outfielders should play him, whether or not the guy would try to take the extra base.” (1)
“He was the most underrated runner in the game. He never stole a lot of bases. But anytime you really had to have a steal and he was on base, he’d get it for you.” (2)

(1) Bruce Keidan, “Roberto Clemente: Baseball’s Magnificent Militant,” The Philadelphia Inquirer (Tuesday, January 2, 1973), p. 1-D
(2) Ibid, p. 4-D

RED SCHOENDIENST:
“Clemente was close to being the most perfect ballplayer of all time.”
- - - - O’Brien, Remember Roberto, p. 287

EARL WEAVER:
“Clemente played in Puerto Rico when I managed there in 1966 and 1967. He played for San Juan, and I managed Santurce. He was a star in the big leagues already, and he would come in after the Winter League season had started and play his first game without batting practice and make plays you couldn’t believe, throws you couldn’t believe. (1) This guy plays like he was sixteen. In the first game he plays in, he dives for a ball in the cinders along the right field line and comes up throwing it on the money to the plate.” (2)
“So when we faced him in the World Series, I knew Clemente well. I knew what he could do, and no-thing he did surprised me. We handled Stargell in that Series – no home runs, one RBI, a .208 average, but we didn’t handle Clemente.” (3)
- - Speaking during the 1971 World Series:
“He has no weakness. We’re working on what the scouts said was least strong, and we’re not doing very well.” (4)
- - Looking back at the ’71 Series in 2005:
“How to pitch Clemente? There was no way. We tried to pitch him inside – jam him. But he’d hit anything. We couldn’t get him out. (5)
[But] the most memorable play of the Series, the one that I think turned it around, the key to the Series, [was] when [Clemente] ran hard after tapping the ball back to Cuellar on the mound. Cuellar took his time, looked up, and Clemente was charging to first, and it surprised him and he threw it off target.” (6)

(1) Pepe, <u>Talkin' Baseball</u>
(2) Phil Musick, <u>Who Was Roberto? a Biography of Roberto Clemente</u> (Garden City, Doubleday & Company, 1974), p. 286
(3) Pepe, p.56
(4) Harold Kaese, “Press Ignored Clemente, Cooperstown Won’t,” The Boston Globe (Wednesday, January 3, 1973), p. 51
(5) David Maraniss, <u>Clemente: The Passion and Grace of Baseball’s Last Hero</u> (New York, Simon and Schuster, 2006), p. 254
(6) Maraniss, p. 251

DICK WILLIAMS:
“Roberto Clemente was the greatest ballplayer I have ever watched. He could do it all.
“In fact, last year, Gonzalo Marquez, one of our young outfielders, told me he was going to copy Clemente. I told him if he could become one third of the ballplayer Clemente was, he would make me very happy.”
- - - - “Pittsburgh Mourning Loss of Hometown Hero,” The Philadelphia Inquirer (Tuesday, January 2, 1973), p. 4-D

EDDIE YOST (Slick-fielding third baseman and exemplary leadoff hitter who spent most of his career with Washington [1944-58], known best for his durability and especially his extraordinary batting eye, having led the American League in walks six times, later a third base coach with the Senators, Mets and Red Sox – hear recalls the players who really stood out during his 40 years in baseball):
“Yogi [Berra], and all the Yankees, for that matter. But I saw Clemente when I was coaching for the Mets. I believe he was the best I saw.” [How ironic that the two players singled out by Yost – arguably the most selective hitter of his generation – are in fact two of the best “bad ball” hitters in the history of the game.]
- - - - Brent Kelley, <u>Baseball Stars of the 1950s: Interviews With All-Stars of the Game's Golden Era</u> (Jefferson, McFarland and Company, 1993), p. 187

Well, big deal! Managers schmanagers. Whadda they know? I mean how smart do you have to be to run a baseball team, anyway... Hey, I've got an idea. Let's find some scouts. They're the ones on the ground - the ones that build the teams from the ground up. Yeah, that's the ticket...
   80. David Speed Posted: August 18, 2006 at 09:38 AM (#2145388)
REGARDING THE 5/28-30/06 ROBERTO CLEMENTE THREAD:
PART ONE - Treder / PART TWO - sunnyday 2 / PART THREE - My Two Cents</I> </I>


<U>PART TWO B6:</U>

========================================<u>SCOUTS</u>===========================================

REX BOWEN (Talking to Nellie King following a Pirates-Phillies game at a time when Bowen was scouting the Pirates for the Reds in preparation for their upcoming NLCS):</B>

“Remember in the eighth inning with runners on first and second when Bowa hit a ball into the gap in right center field? Clemente was able to cut the ball off, held it to a single, allowing only one run to score. (1) Next week in the championship playoffs and the following week in the World Series, every player will make that play. They'll be diving for balls. But Roberto Clemente is the only player in the game today who will make that play in a meaningless game the last week of the season. That's why he's the greatest player in the game today.” (2)

(1) Bill Chuck, “Top of the Ninth,” Billy-Ball Daily (http://www.billy-ball.com/news/1_5_2005.asp), Wednesday, January 05, 2005
(2) Nellie King, “Remembering Roberto: He Was a Perfectionist and an Artist, and He Was Also Often Misunderstood,” Pittsburgh (March 1978), p. 85

AL CAMPANIS:(Recalling a 1952 tryout for the Dodgers held at Sixto Escobar Stadium in Puerto Rico):
Recalling a 1952 tryout for the Dodgers held at Sixto Escobar Stadium in Puerto Rico:
“I had done one of those camps a year or two before down in Aguadilla. Nothing. Then in ’52, I held one in Santurce at Sixto Escabar Stadium. Maybe seventy kids … seventy-two, I think.
“I lined them up in centerfield and told them to throw to the plate. Lots of arc on the throws. Then one kid throws a bullet, on the fly. I shouted, ‘Uno mas!’ Again a bullet. I couldn’t believe my eyes. I said, ‘That’s all.’ Hell, you can’t gild a lily.
“After that, I timed them in the 60-yard dash. This kid runs it in 6.4 – in a baseball uniform, yet. Hell, the world’s record then was only 6.1. I couldn’t believe it. (1) We sent the other seventy-one players home.
“The only one I asked to hit was Roberto Clemente. He hit for 20, 25 minutes. I’m behind the cage, and I’m saying to myself, ‘We gotta sign this guy if he can just hold the bat in his hands.’
“He starts hitting line drives all over the place. I notice the way he's standing in the box, and I figure there’s no way he can reach the outside of the plate. So I tell the pitcher to pitch him outside, and the kid swings with both feet off the ground and hits line drives to right and sharp ground balls up the middle. (2)
Clemente was the only guy qualified to meet our plans. He hit them over the left field and right field fence. (3)
“How could I miss him? He was the greatest natural athlete I have ever seen as a free agent. (4)

A reasonable facsimile of Campanis' 1952 scouting report on Clemente:

SCOUT REPORT

Club SANTURCE League PORTO RICAN Pos. OF Age 18
Hgt 5’11’’ Wgt 175
Bats R Throws R

Name CLEMENTE ROBERT
Arm A+ GOOD CARRY
Fielding A GOOD AT THIS STAGE Accuracy A
Hitting A TURNS HEAD BUT IMPROVING Reactions A
Running Speed + Power A+

Definite Prospect? YES has Chance? ____ Fill-in? ____ Follow ____
Physical Condition (Build, Size, Agility, etc.) WELL BUILT–FAIR SIZE–GOOD AGILITY (5)

Remarks: WILL MATURE INTO BIG MAN.
ATTENDING HIGH SCHOOL BUT PLAYS WITH SANTURCE. HAS ALL
THE TOOLS AND LIKES TO PLAY. A REAL GOOD LOOKING PROSPECT!
HE HAS WRITTEN THE COMMISSIONER REQUESTING PERMISSION TO
PLAY ORGANIZED BALL.

(1) Musick, Reflections on Roberto, p. 43
(2)) Ira Miller, <u>Roberto Clemente</u> (New York, Grosset and Dunlap, 1973), pp. 15-16
(3) Thomas E. Van Hyning, <u>The Santurce Crabbers: Sixty Seasons of Puerto Rican Winter League Baseball</u> (Jefferson, McFarland & Company, Inc. Publishers, 1999), p. 44
(4) Miller, p.16
(5) Maraniss, <u>Clemente: The Passion and Grace of Baseball’s Last Hero</u>, p. 27

HOWIE HAAK:
“Clemente was the greatest player I’ve ever seen. I only saw Mays play [about] 20 games and [that was after] he had begun to go downhill. [But] Clemente was better than Musial. He could throw better and run better. Couldn’t run better than Mantle. Threw better than Mantle. Mantle played in a park that was built for him, Clemente didn’t. All around, Clemente was better than Aaron. Not a better hitter and not more power, but he was a better fielder, better runner and a better thrower.”
- - - - Tom Bird, “Howie Haak: Veteran Scout Looks Back on Long Career,” Baseball Digest (February 1994), p. 65

HAROLD “PIE” TRAYNOR (Hall-of-Fame third baseman spent his entire adult life with the Pirates – playing [1920-35,37], managing [1934-39], and scouting [1940-72]):
“He’s a four-letter man. He can hit, run, field and throw. You won’t find many with all of those qualifications. Some have two or three, but not many have all four.” (1)
Ranking Clemente among all-time National League right fielders:
“Clemente rates number one. I put him even ahead of Paul Waner among right fielders. Waner was a great one, perhaps a slightly better hitter for average than Clemente, and had a good arm and was a good fielder, but I think Clemente has moved out in front of him in all departments.” (2)

(1) Macht, <u>Roberto Clemente</u>, 1994), p. 81
(2) Christine, <u>Roberto</u>, p. 112


Okay, enough with the scouts, already! They're basically just frustrated players, anyway. Oh yeah, right... <u>except</u> for Pie Traynor... Okay, whatever... Listen, let's hear from GM's. They're dealing in dollars and cents, no more cheap sentiment or fuzzy thinking, just the bare-bones ballpark bottom line...


====================================<u>GENERAL MANAGERS</u>=======================================

JOE L. BROWN (Pirates' GM for all but Clemente's rookie season [1955, the last year of the Rickey regime])
Explaining his response to the poll of major league general managers conducted by Sport Magazine in March 1968, which posed the question, ‘Who is the best player in baseball today?’ and which yielded the following results: *
--Roberto Clemente 8 votes
--Carl Yastrzremski 6 votes
--Hank Aaron 1 vote
--Bill Freehan 1 vote
--Bob Gibson 1 vote
--Ron Santo 1 vote

* Two of the major leagues’ twenty GM’s chose not to participate either because they didn’t know or because they didn’t want to embarrass any of their own teams’ players.

“He can do more things superbly than any athlete I’ve ever seen. For a good many years, I thought Willie Mays was the best all-around performer I’d ever seen in baseball. Over the past three years, though, Roberto has convinced me he is the best.” (1)

“I would say it was obvious [when he first came up] that he had not played much professional baseball, that he had things to learn. But it was even more obvious that he had great talent. There wasn’t anything couldn’t do; he just had to learn by playing more on the major league level. (2) [After that first season,] he never made a mistake in the field. He never threw to the wrong base, never failed to take the extra base, never was thrown out trying for the extra base. He was simply the most intelligent player who ever played for me.” (3)

(1) Markusen, <u>Roberto Clemente: The Great One</u>, pp. 171-172
(2) Ibid, p. 53
(3) Steve Wulf, “Arriba Roberto!Sports Illustrated (December 28, 1992 Vol. 77, Issue 27), p.114

Okay, this guy's obviously fallen victim to the famous 'Clemente charm', become just another groupie of the charismatic Caribbean. We can't take anything <u>he</u> says seriously. Let's move on to somebody who obviously wasn't taken in by Clemente's flashy pyrotechnics, someone who was able to keep his wits about him and do what had to be done, that's right -- the man who let Clemente get away...

BUZZY BAVASI:
“[Not protecting Clemente] was probably my biggest mistake. We can blame the rules for part of it, but part of it was our judgment. I don’t know how, but I should have figured some way to get around the rule.” (1)

Explaining his vote for Clemente in a March 1968 poll conducted by Sport Magazine asking major league GMs to name the best player in baseball [Clemente was the leading vote-getter - see JOE BROWN above]:
“When you consider who is the best ballplayer today, you have to consider three things. You’ve got to consider whether he can run, throw and hit and he must be able to do these things consistently and far above the average. Therefore, the one guy who has all these qualifications is Roberto Clemente.” (2)

“We would have won four more pennants [if we hadn’t lost Clemente].” (3)

(1) Charles Maher, “Bavasi’s Biggest Error: Clemente,” The Los Angeles Times (March 10, 1967), p. C5
(2) Dave Soskin, “Roberto Clemente: Don’t Count Him Out,” from Baseball Stars of 1969, Ray Robinson, editor (New York, Pyramid Books, 1969), p. 92
(3) Ross Newhan, “Former Dodger and Angel General Manager Buzzy Bavasi, 90, Reflects on a Long, Storied Career,” The Los Angeles Times (Saturday, February 19, 2005), p. D1

I give up! Sorry, SD. I gave it my best shot. I guess people are just stupid, huh?....
   81. David Speed Posted: August 18, 2006 at 10:10 AM (#2145390)
REGARDING THE 5/28-30/06 ROBERTO CLEMENTE THREAD:
PART ONE - Treder / PART TWO - sunnyday 2 / PART THREE - My Two Cents</I>

<U>PART THREE A:</U>

The debate running through this thread regarding (1) Clemente’s status – or non-status – as a ‘slugger’ and (2) whether or not Forbes Field prevented him from attaining said status contains one fatal flaw: the assumption that Clemente was trying to hit home runs. Well, for the most part, he was not. In fact, it would be closer to the truth to say not just that he was not trying to, but that he actually was trying not to hit home runs, or, more precisely, trying not to elevate the ball.

How did he arrive at this approach?

During spring training in 1956, following Clemente’s disappointing rookie season, during which, as Clemente himself later pointed out, he had no business being in the big leagues, he received an intensive dose of instruction from Pirate scout/spring training batting instructor George Sisler. Hall-of-Famer and erstwhile line-drive-hitting, slick-fielding first baseman, Sisler would become Pittsburgh’s full-time batting coach the following year, remaining until 1965, when incoming manager Harry Walker brought in his own guys, including batting coach, Johnny Pesky.

Now the main order of business during the Clemente/Sisler spring session was to eliminate Clemente’s costly habit of moving his head around during his swing, making him painfully susceptible to off-speed stuff. Ironically, this problem could have and should have been addressed during his time in the Dodgers’ system, since Campanis had made a note of it in his 1952 scouting report. [See Maraniss, p. 27.] But that’s just another reminder of what a complete waste Clemente’s time with the Dodgers was, with its frustratingly fragmented playing time and absolutely absent instruction.

Be that as it may, opposing pitchers had caught on to this weakness of Clemente’s about one month into his rookie season, transporting him from his high water mark of .367 – 5 points ahead of his recent winter ball teammate Willie Mays for the National League lead – to his final destination, a disappointing .255.

On completion of the course, the Prof predicted a 35-point increase on the part of his prize pupil. [Somebody stop me before I alliterate again!!] As it turns out, Clemente’s mentor was too cautious. The honors student moved up 56 points to .311, good enough for third place in the National League, behind Musial and teammate Bill Virdon. But power was not part of the package, nor was it meant to be. As Dick Groat told Jim O'Brien in 1994, “There was nothing on the baseball diamond that he couldn’t do if he wanted to. He could have adapted his hitting style if he wanted to be more of a home run hitter, but George Sisler wanted him to spray the ball around and be a high percentage hitter.” [See O'Brien, Remember Roberto, p. 223]

Was the doctor’s prescription a bitter pill to swallow? It would seem not, as Clemente refilled it again and again over the years. Now our protagonist enjoyed hitting balls enormous distances as much as anybody, and did so on numerous occasions, authoring many epic blasts [from his first week in Montreal's Delorimier Downs in April 1954 when he cleared the never-before violated deep, high and wind-protected left-field wall to September 1972 in Wrigley Field when he manhandled a young fireballing Pittsburgh prospect named Jim McKee who'd been making Willie Stargell, Al Oliver and Richie Hebner look foolish in batting practice, first by hitting vicious line drives all over the park and then, after Hebner had called out, "Come on, one more swing," by <u> taking</u> that swing, and <u>nearly</u> taking McKee's head off, after which the ball started to rise, which it was still doing when it hit the bleachers just below the centerfield scoreboard over 450 feet from home plate - itself recalling the scene at Forbes Field on May 31, 1964 when, on a 1-2 count, Clemente had turned around a Sandy Koufax fastball off the outside corner, starting it on a trajectory similar to the above-mentioned Wrigley shot, in this case interrupted in its heavenward ascent only by the left center field light tower 450 feet away...Yikes! Talk about your run-on parenthetical statement.]

Well anyway, moonshots notwithstanding, Clemente enjoyed winning even more, and if Sisler's way was the way to go, so be it. Bear in mind that Roberto was still relatively green and he knew it. Little more than a year before being discovered by Al Campanis at the Dodger tryout in November 1952, Clemente was playing softball. Two years before that, Roberto Marin had discovered him smacking crushed tin cans all over an open field with a guava tree limb. So Clemente knew he had stuff to learn, and was a respectful, receptive student. Both Sisler and his successor Pesky gratefully acknowledged that quality in him. Buster Clarkson, the Negro League star who'd managed Clemente in his first two seasons as a professional ballplayer [with the Santurce Cangrejeros - aka Crabbers], had this to say: “He had a few rough spots, but he never made the same mistake twice. He had baseball savvy and he listened. He listened to what he was told and he did it. I told him he’d be as good as Willie Mays some day – and he was.” [Markusen, Roberto Clemente: The Great One, p. 13. Willie wouldn't go quite <u>that</u> far - when asked to name the best player he'd ever seen at the January 1979 press conference announcing his induction to the Hall of Fame, he named himself {a statement that's gained a degree of notoriety perhaps, but an opinion shared by many, including Clemente, by the way}. However, when asked - a couple of minutes into the unfortunately unremembered remainder of that same press conference - to name someone beside himself, he quickly named Clemente {see Dave Anderson's 1/24/79 NYT article, "The Most Natural Ballplayer"}, and many times since then, he's called Clemente the best player he ever saw.]

So, bearing Clemente's receptiveness in mind, realize that Sisler and fellow coach Bill Burwell continually reiterated the importance of hitting for a high average, often telling him he could be the next .400 hitter. In 1964, GM Joe L. Brown got into the act, striking a somewhat uneasy balance between carrot and stick as he spoke to Pittsburgh Press sports editor Les Biederman prior to the 1964 season. He praised Clemente's enormous talent and skills, joining Sisler and Burwell in dubbing Clemente a potential .400 hitter. Ultimately, though, the operative word in the article was 'potential' - as in unfulfilled potential. He criticized Clemente in print for (1) hitting only .320, second best in the NL, (2) not being the team leader he could and should be, and (3) at least perhaps not giving 100% all the time. [Les Biederman, “Roberto’s Bat Could Blaze Trail to Bucco Flag,’ Brown Claims,” The Sporting News (January 18, 1964), p. 17] About the only thing he didn't criticize Clemente for was a lack of power.

So with all this reinforcement, both positive and negative, Clemente seems to have internalized the prioritization of hitting for a high average. Speaking to ex-teammate Nellie King [1954-57] after King had rejoined the Pirates as a broadcaster in 1967, Clemente was asked about his philosophy of hitting:

“Number one, you must put the ball in play. You must find a spot that you can hit the ball. Number two, you must [swing] hard and hit the ball on the ground. If you hit it on the ground, only two people can catch it. And when they catch it, they have to make a play on it; to make a play they got to throw it. Your percentages of getting hits are a hell of a lot better there than they are hitting the ball in the air.” [Markusen, Roberto Clemente: The Great One, pp. 168-169]

Now anybody who's seen more than the tiniest sample of Clemente’s work realizes that he was obviously not trying to hit ground balls exclusively, but rather ground balls and line drives -- in other words, anything but fly balls. The exaggerated and incomplete version he gave to King could well reflect some defensiveness and frustration he felt in his post-1967 years, in which injuries (1) cut into his playing time, (2) more and more often – particularly in 1970 and beyond – turned him into precisely the kind of slap hitter he'd erroneously been dubbed in the past, and (3) as a result, prevented him from building on the accomplishments of 1966 and 1967, after which he'd been widely regarded as the best player in baseball as well as the most dangerous hitter - the former reflected in results of a poll of major league GMs published in the March 1968 issue of Sport Magazine [see JOE L. BROWN and BUZZY BAVASI above in PART TWO B6- GENERAL MANAGERS] and the latter indicated by the fact that Clemente, while having probably his worst year of the decade in 1968, led the NL in intentional walks.
   82. David Speed Posted: August 18, 2006 at 10:22 AM (#2145391)
<U>PART THREE B:</U>

In his later years, Clemente would hold forth on the subject of hitting following workouts in spring training, speaking to large and attentive audiences. One 'student' who frequently audited these lectures in 1971 was Kent Tekulve, later a star reliever with the Pirates. He talked to Jim O’Brien in 1994. The following quote, when taken together with the King quote starts to give one a more fleshed-out picture of Clemente's approach to hitting the baseball:

“He’d be sitting there, talking to all these young kids. It wasn’t about mechanics, you know – like how to hold the bat, or where to stand, or stuff like that. It was more about theory, what he was trying to do as a hitter.

“It helps explain his unorthodox style. You’d never teach anyone to stand up at the plate like he did, or to hold the bat like he did, or to swing at some of the pitches he lashed at. He wanted to hit the ball with the bat going down through it. The ball would come off the bat with backspin. It will carry that way. I realized it more when I played golf because the same thing applies there. If you hit up at it you get topspin and the ball goes down.

“Most guys just want to make contact; they’re happy if they can put their bat on the ball. But Clemente was more precise in what he wanted to accomplish. He wanted to keep his hands back, and hit down on the ball with that heavy bat he used. Hearing him talk, you knew he was somebody on a separate level. They say Ted Williams was like that.

“He’d sit there four or five innings a day, just talking about things. Like balance, things he was trying to accomplish at the plate …

“I’d go back to my room at Pirate City and figure out how I could counteract that. How could I keep batters off balance? How could I offset the sort of things good hitters like Clemente could do? I’d go over in my mind all the things he talked about. I’d sit around my room for hours. How could I keep hitters from doing what they wanted to do? He was so detailed. He wanted to talk to these kids. Everybody learned from him … I probably learned more about pitching to good major league batters from Clemente than I did from any pitching coaches.” [O'Brien, Remember Roberto, pp. 329-331]

Certainly, swinging down through the ball is not a novel idea. [See Rob Ellis,"Lost Secrets of Hitting," Baseball Digest (August 1999), p. 28. I had read an interview with a few years ago with Dick aka Richie Allen where he attributed the power achieved by both Aaron and Clemente to their practice of swinging down through the ball, generating backspin. When asked whether he used this approach, he was a little coy in his response - "No Comment' or something along those lines - implying that a real power hitter didn't need to use such underhanded means. So I was somewhat gratified to learn from this Baseball Digest article that Allen was indeed a practitioner of the fine old art of "swinging down on the ball," passing it on, knowingly or not, to Mike Schmidt.] But in addition to committing him to a non-upper-cut approach to hitting, Clemente's education as a major league hitter led him to identify the maintenance of his self-esteem with that of his batting average. So much so that when Walker's power request came in 1966, Clemente viewed with trepidation the prospect of shaving points off his average, a concern only partially eased by Walker's assurances that a boost in his power numbers was the one missing piece that would get him over the hump in the quest for the coveted MVP award. Even after he'd given Walker the numbers he asked for and gotten his award {as per Walker's prediction}, he still wasn't quite consoled and would always have mixed feelings about his accomplishment – pride in the increased recognition and respect stemming from the '66 and '67 seasons mixed with a degree of embarassment at having struck out over a hundred times in each of those seasons. Walker was sensitive to these concerns and so, before the 1967 season began, he gave Clemente his blessing to go all-out in pursuit of a fourth batting title – something Walker could feel comfortable doing since the power drought in the Pirates' 1965 roster which had motivated his pre-1966 request to Clemente in the first place had been addressed largely in 1966 both by Stargell stepping up and by the emergence of Donn Clendenon as a right-handed power threat. Clemente, in any case, didn't take Walker's assurances as a license to abandon his role as a run producer – while winning his batting title, he put up power numbers comparable to those of '66 [better really, relative both to the rest of the league and to his own decreased number of at-bats].

It was a cruel irony that it was at precisely this moment, when he had finally reached a position of preeminence in his chosen profession and was poised to dominate that profession for at least a few more seasons, yet another off-field, pre-season injury [shades of 12/54, 12/56 and 2/65] intervened. This proved to be the first in a string of injuries suffered during his last few seasons that diminished both his playing time and his ability to consistently drive the ball. The falloff was disguised somewhat by the high batting average he maintained from '69 to'71, the highest composite BA for any 3-year period of his career – a situation somewhat analogous to that of the post-2001 Pedro Martinez, who continued to put up sparkling numbers for a few seasons following his rotator cuff tear, but – to anybody watching the games {or batting against him}– was clearly not the same pitcher.

During the spring of 1969, while still recovering from the previous season’s devastating pre-season injury to his right shoulder, Clemente made a desperate diving attempt to catch a foul pop fly in an exhibition game against the Boston Red Sox, thus injuring his left shoulder, displaying the reckless disregard for his own safety that characterized his entire career [see DANNY MURTAUGH in PART TWO - MANAGERS and REX BOWEN in PART TWO - SCOUTS above] and, one might add, his death. But, in any case, at this point in his career, his body was showing a diminishing capacity to withstand the punishment it was routinely subjected to – the spirit, as ever, willing, but the flesh not quite so able.

The pre-season injuries of ’68 and ’69 prevented him from keeping his shoulders up during his swing, thus preventing him from getting on top of the ball as he always aspired to do. As Clemente told his friend Tito Stevens of the San Juan Star, “Last year when I hurt my shoulder, I couldn’t hit high pitches, but they kept pitching me down and away and I could hit that pitch without much pain. ‘Look, he gets three hits, but he says he’s in pain,’ they say, but they don’t know that I can’t go for the high pitch, and I’m not about to tell them.” [Wagenheim, Clemente, p. 178.] Much as it went against the approach to hitting he’d learned and refined over the years, Clemente, during these two seasons, could often do nothing but uppercut the ball – probably helping to explain the lack of a dramatic falloff in his home runs [considering his reduced at-bats] even as he labored in vain to reach the .300 mark in 1968.

The injuries really started to pile up in 1970. Worst were the back troubles, always present, in the background or the foreground, but making their presence felt front and center in August and September – ironically nullifying his power just at the point when the Pirates had moved to a park which, while not small, at least featured dimensions less daunting than those he’d dealt with for so many years.

When <u>1971</u> and <u>Roberto Clemente</u> are found in the same sentence, it’s almost invariably regarding Clemente’s dominant World Series performance. While understandable, this obscures some remarkable mid-season moments, in a season admittedly dominated by Willie Stargell’s team-carrying performance.

One of my favorite of these moments was Clemente’s amusing and memorable at-bat against Mickey Lolich in the 1971 All-Star game – Lolich starting him off with two pitches waaayy high and outside, provoking amusingly disgusted and demonstrative reactions from Clemente, by way of a request for something remotely reachable. And – wouldn’t you know it – Lolich obliged with just such a marginally palatable offering – once again up around his eyes but this time thoughtfully left no more than a foot off the plate. Clemente, seizing the moment, once again proved himself a true magician with the bat – transforming the small, white sphere from remotely reachable to unreachably remote, as it landed in the upper deck, just a tad to the right of dead center.
As was the case so often in his career – and as, in fact, was the case with his career as a whole – so it was that this seemingly unforgettable moment has gone largely unremembered, overshadowed as it was in this case by Reggie Jackson’s majestic third inning blast.
   83. David Speed Posted: August 18, 2006 at 10:52 AM (#2145393)
<U>PART THREE C:</U>

The regular-season highlight of Clemente’s 1971 season [and one of a handful of highlights of his – or any – career] occurred about a month earlier in the Astrodome in Houston. There was no relaxed comic banter or interplay here, no lull before the python strike of Clemente’s swing. This was Clemente the ballhawk – supreme effort, athleticism and skill, bolstered by fearlessness {some would say foolishness – pacing himself was certainly never part of Clemente’s repertoire}. I’m speaking of the legendary June 15 game-saving catch – a play that dwarfs the celebrated 5/10/06 Aaron Rowand catch against the Mets {and even Clemente’s 8/5/60 catch against Willie Mays which Rowand’s play somewhat resembles}. As is the case with the vast majority of great plays occurring prior to the relatively recent past, the only visual record resides in the fading memories of the surviving witnesses among the 16,000 or so present at the Astrodome that evening - a medium-sized but generous-hearted bunch who rewarded Roberto Clemente for robbing their team of a dramatic come-from-behind victory with repeated standing ovations. Fortunately for the rest of us, a number of eyewitness accounts do exist. [For two of those, see JOE MORGAN in PART TWO B2 - PLAYERS and DANNY MURTAUGH in PART TWO B4 - HIS MANAGERS AND COACHES. Sadly, but typically, Maraniss’ biography is absent any mention of this play, as it is of so many great moments, games, even seasons of Clemente’s career – reflecting the sketchy and generic nature of Maraniss’ treatment of Clemente as a ballplayer.]

As I said, Clemente's '71 World Series performance was and is justly celebrated - the vicious line drives, a single stretched into a double, a double stretched into a triple, the big home runs in games six and seven, and of course, the Throws.

Ironically, neither of the two throws retired anybody. Clemente had zero assists in the Series as few baserunners were still foolish enough to challenge his arm. Merv Rettenmund certainly didn't think of himself as challenging Clemente when he tried to take third on Frank Robinson's fly ball in game two - he'd just assumed it was a routine, automatic sac fly. An ever-so-faint 'whoops' started to register as he noticed the third base coach frantically signalling for him to slide, this sensory input closely followed by the unwelcome adrenaline rush of Hebner slapping a tag on him just after his foot hit the bag.

Clemente's game six throw, while also a thing of beauty in and of itself, came in a crucial spot. It robbed Don Buford of a game-winning walk-off RBI on his double into the right field corner, as the third base coach was at his attention-getting best in flagging down Mark Belanger, running on contact from first base. Vindication for this decision was immediately forthcoming as Sanguillen received a one-hop strike from the right field corner, eventually sending the game into extra innings [where it was won an inning later by the Orioles, thanks to Frank Robinson's aggressive baserunning - taking advantage of center fielder Vic Davalillo's more human-scaled throwing arm on consecutive plays].

For all of Clemente's brilliance on both sides of the ball, the biggest play he made in this Series, as it was in 1960, was a simple hustle play, the act of running as hard as possible to first base on a routine grounder. In 1960, it had kept Pittsburgh's eighth-inning rally, and in effect, their season, alive. In 1971, it generated a decisive rally in a game the Pirates had to have, down two games to none and already pronounced DOA by the physicians of the fourth estate.

A sad irony in all this was that Clemente, as great as his Series performance was, was physically not close to the Clemente of ten - or even four - years earlier. The two throws, called respectively by Andy Etchebarren and Davey Johnson the greatest each had ever seen, were far from prime Clemente - the Clemente who year after year thrilled fans and colleagues alike with absolute ropes from all parts of the outfield to all parts of the infield. As his friend Sanguillen recalls, "Here he was, thirty-seven years old, and they said he had to have a great World Series or else people would not know how great he was. He was so ashamed. He’d tell me, ‘Oh, when I was younger, I was so much better.’” [Michael M.Oleksak and Mary Adams Oleksak, <u>Beisbol: Latin Americans and the Grand Old Game</u> (Grand Rapids, Masters Press, 1991), p. 98] While Clemente ultimately could - and did - look back with pride at his performance in the '71 Series, he also would have appreciated - in fact hungered for - more acknowledgement for and documentation of his extraordinary day-to-day achievements, the area in which Maraniss' book [alarmingly described as definitive] is almost completely deficient. The more things change, the more thay stay the same. More on Maraniss later.

In 1972, the wear and tear was finally showing up in his numbers as well as his diminishing playing time. Reaching the 3,000-hit mark just before the end of the year, while obviously extremely fortunate in retrospect, probably didn't help his postseason performance, as his quest left him almost no time to rest up for the playoffs. Part of the problem was simply the ravages of age, the inevitable wearing down of a body constantly pushed to the limit. Does anybody really think George Foster would have challenged Clemente's arm five years earlier even on a fly to deepest right center - as he did Game Five of the 1972 NLCS, advancing to third without a throw{!!!} to set up the game- and series-winning wild pitch? Well, being young and foolish, perhaps he would have, but he would've died trying.

Still, Clemente played as hard as ever when he got onto the field, an example which couldn't help but push his teammates to excel. [Just how important that example was would be demonstrated in 1973, when the Pirates fell from first place in 1972 to under .500 in '73, despite Stargell having a career year.] Clemente's three thousandth hit and the days leading up to it have been well documented, but a favorite sequence of events came for me a little earlier that month.

On September 13, Clemente went 3-for-3 against Ferguson Jenkins and the Chicago Cubs, including the game-winning home run. Jenkins was a favorite victim of Clemente's. [See FERGUSON JENKINS in PART TWO B2- PLAYERS.] He'd been on the mound for Clemente's two thousandth hit on September 2, 1966, a game-breaking three run homer [which also put Clemente over the 100-RBI mark in a season for the first time in his career]. After the present debacle, Jenkins spoke to reporters:
“I think Clemente is the only superstar in our league. Well, he and Hank Aaron. Today he [Clemente] just hit everything I had. He hit a slider for a single, a fastball for a triple and another slider for the home run. He’s something.”

Yes, the old man still had a little left in the tank. And just to put an explanation point on it, just as he had done the day after his three-home run game against Cincinnati on June 15, 1967, he put on a clinic in batting practice the next day. The extremely fortunate writer Bart Ripp was just happened to be on the premises at the time, doing an interview. His account is reproduced in full in PART ONE. By way of closing this unexpectedly massive post, I'll just reprise Ripp's last couple of images, which come about after Clemente has just been manhandling a young fireballing Pirate pitching prospect after said prospect has made the core of the Pittsburgh lineup - Stargell, Oliver and Hebner - look silly:

"Not paying any respect to a god, Hebner shouted, ‘Come on, one more swing.’
“Clemente motioned to the pitcher, wiping the side of his hand across the side of his uniform. McKee put it right there, right through the heart of the plate, and Clemente swung once more. The ball nearly tipped the button of McKee’s cap, then once past second began to rise on a straight line. It was still rising when it struck the bleachers just below the scoreboard, about 450 feet away.
“The people around the cage surveyed the landing site for a few seconds, then closed their mouths and looked back into the cage. It was empty, as Clemente walked back to the dugout, rolling his head about and cricking his neck.”
   84. baudib Posted: August 18, 2006 at 11:28 AM (#2145396)
Clemente only hit 42 percent of his homers in his home parks. Someone early on dismissed that number as not overly significant. I would guess he has to be in the top 10 on the "lost" homers list. Give him two homers a year,12-15 points on his slugging percentage and the perception of him around here probably changes significantly.
   85. Daryn Posted: August 18, 2006 at 12:34 PM (#2145405)
Speed,

Why don't you come back here when you have done some research?



:)
   86. Howie Menckel Posted: August 18, 2006 at 12:41 PM (#2145406)
On the other hand, one can assume that the best way to win games is to produce as many bases as possible per AB.
And doubling a guy's road SLG PCT goes a long way toward accounting for park factor.

I voted Clemente at the top when he was on the ballot, but the stats - not anecdotes - tell you who was a slugger and who wasn't. Every guy who's ever been considered has a 'could have been' story to tell.
   87. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: August 18, 2006 at 01:06 PM (#2145414)
When did this turn into the Wes Ferrell thread?
   88. Spahn Insane Posted: August 18, 2006 at 02:07 PM (#2145441)
I think some might even appreciate the review, disagree with it, and then enjoy the book anyway. But it's a fair critique, I think.

Actually, I appreciate the review, and though I haven't read the book, I'd tend to agree with most of the criticisms Steve raises (I'm annoyed when the likes of BP produces error-ridden books on a quickie basis, so it's especially grating when a biographer/researcher's more meticulously produced book is full of them).

That said, Steve's review made me want to read the book even *more* than I would've before, because of the strengths he highlights--the research into and description of the social/racial context of the time Clemente was establishing himself, and the gory details of his ill-fated relief mission. These are things I haven't read enough about and probably can't get anywhere else, and I imagine that if Marannis's handling of these issuess are as good as Steve says, that it'll be a fascinating and important read despite the book's flaws. (I mean, I'd expect a Clemente biographer to sort of over-lionize his subject, and I'm used to Clemente being overrated as a player anyway. And now that the factual errors have been highlighted for me, I'd probably find them less jarring than I would reading them unwarned.) And really, I'd be reading a Clemente bio for more insight on Clemente, the man--I already know what kind of player he was.
   89. Spahn Insane Posted: August 18, 2006 at 02:07 PM (#2145443)
I think some might even appreciate the review, disagree with it, and then enjoy the book anyway. But it's a fair critique, I think.

Actually, I appreciate the review, and though I haven't read the book, I'd tend to agree with most of the criticisms Steve raises (I'm annoyed when the likes of BP produces error-ridden books on a quickie basis, so it's especially grating when a biographer/researcher's more meticulously produced book is full of them).

That said, Steve's review made me want to read the book even *more* than I would've before, because of the strengths he highlights--the research into and description of the social/racial context of the time Clemente was establishing himself, and the gory details of his ill-fated relief mission. These are things I haven't read enough about and probably can't get anywhere else, and I imagine that if Marannis's handling of these issuess are as good as Steve says, that it'll be a fascinating and important read despite the book's flaws. (I mean, I'd expect a Clemente biographer to sort of over-lionize his subject, and I'm used to Clemente being overrated as a player anyway. And now that the factual errors have been highlighted for me, I'd probably find them less jarring than I would reading them unwarned.) And really, I'd be reading a Clemente bio for more insight on Clemente, the man--I already know what kind of player he was.
   90. Spahn Insane Posted: August 18, 2006 at 02:08 PM (#2145444)
Whoops--sorry 'bout that. My connection's funky this morning.
   91. DanG Posted: August 18, 2006 at 02:10 PM (#2145446)
I would guess he has to be in the top 10 on the "lost" homers list.

Here's a list I compiled about ten years ago. It's simply the bottom ten in HR Home minus HR Road. This may not be totally accurate and this may no longer reflect the actual leaders, but I submit it with those caveats.

-65 148 213 Joe DiMaggio
-64 92 156 Goose Goslin
-62 137 199 Joe Adcock
-59 54 113 Elston Howard
-58 57 115 Mickey Vernon
-54 29 83 Gil McDougald
-54 103 157 Tim Wallach
-51 44 95 Ed Yost
-50 67 117 Bob Watson
-48 45 93 Bill Mazeroski

Clemente is at -38 (101-139).
   92. Mike Emeigh Posted: August 18, 2006 at 02:50 PM (#2145475)
That said, Steve's review made me want to read the book even *more* than I would've before, because of the strengths he highlights--the research into and description of the social/racial context of the time Clemente was establishing himself, and the gory details of his ill-fated relief mission. These are things I haven't read enough about and probably can't get anywhere else, and I imagine that if Marannis's handling of these issuess are as good as Steve says, that it'll be a fascinating and important read despite the book's flaws.


By all means read it. Read Bruce Markusen's books, too, if you haven't already done so.

-- MWE
   93. TomH Posted: August 18, 2006 at 02:53 PM (#2145477)
Is it fair to say that Clemente's superb SKILLS did not translate into STATS (and WINS)? If his skills were as awesome as many claimed, where were the runs and RBI? If he had the great power, too bad he didn't use it to create more runs. He was weak in one area; one of his strengths was hitting any pitch, but he never developed the ability to actually recognize a bad pitch. You know, Roberto, 100% of a usually better than a .330 chance of getting a hit.

And the quotes that he was "the toughest out in the league"; well, c'mon, that isn't scouting or opinion, that is factual, and in fact Clemente Never lead his league in on-base average.

Having said all of that, Clemente was a great player and a hero, underrated by stats types who don't account for his fine defense and character, but overrated by fans who think batting average anf 'hitting th eball hard' and not striking out are the most important things, and like many who sadly are cut down in their primes, the tendency to over-state their heroics is present.
   94. Mike Emeigh Posted: August 18, 2006 at 03:22 PM (#2145495)
I voted Clemente at the top when he was on the ballot, but the stats - not anecdotes - tell you who was a slugger and who wasn't.


The point of the discussion isn't that Clemente was a slugger, nor even that he *could have been* a slugger - but that Clemente, faced with playing half his games in Forbes Field, chose to develop his hitting skills in a manner that may have maximized his value to his team in that ballpark. Had he chosen to approach the game as a Thomas/Stuart-like slugger, he may very well have hit 30 HRs in a season consistently in Forbes. But what impact would that have had on the rest of his game? What would the trade-offs have been? Would he, like Thomas and Stuart, have hit fewer doubles and triples, and a lower BA and OBP as a result?

What Clemente *could have been*, I agree, is irrelevant for the HOM. But I think that Clemente was what he was largely because of a conscious choice on his part based on his circumstances and his environment, and that in another environment (say, Brooklyn) he would have become something quite different.

-- MWE
   95. Cris E Posted: August 18, 2006 at 04:02 PM (#2145544)
Dave Speed that was great. Do Allen and Wynn next. (I assume you've got something like this whipped up for just about everyone, right?)
   96. David Speed Posted: August 18, 2006 at 04:30 PM (#2145600)
Yo Howie -
I wasn't calling him a slugger - as in someone with a lot of home runs and/or a high percentage of extra base hits. Thet would have been quite a trick for someone who was trying expressly not to elevate the ball - i.e. Roberto Clemente That's the approach he'd been taught, and, as I've already written. he was an eager and attentive student. So obviously he wasn't a 'slugger.' He wasn't trying to be, as I thought I'd made clear. But if you can't 'buy' that, if you think it's some kind of smokescreen designed to obscure his deficiencies as a 'slugger,' I guess there's nothing left to say. But if you're going to spend you're time proving someone a failure at something they're not trying to do and you consider eyewitness testimony - by involved parties as well as contemporary eyewitness media reporting - to be no more than valueless 'anecdotes'... Well, all I can say is, I hope I never come before your bench, Your Honor.

The point of Treder's that I was taking issue with [and certainly thought I'd made painfully clear] was the issue of raw power - the idea that Clemente wasn't big and strong enough to compete with the big boys. That's demonstrably wrong. And I thought I'd gone a considerable distance toward demonstrating it. But then again, I guess this court's standard of evidence will once again rule the day. But whatever, I've got to get a few hours of sleep. I hope people get something out the material I put up - I inserted links wherever possible both to online source articles and to inexpensive sources for some of the more substantive books. Please, please, please - if you don't know much about Clemente, don't expect Maraniss to fill in the gaps - it's an interesting supplement if you already have a great knowledge of Clemente as a player, but you're not going derive any but the skimpiest bits of that knowledge from this source. He's alternately sketchy, generic and just wrongheaded in his portrayal of Clemente the ballplayer. More than this I cannot say at present, for I am truly losing consciousness, and that's when the spelling/typing errors come, and the the powers that be have already demonstrated that my goofs will stand in all their uncorrected glory.... so - -
Later
   97. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: August 18, 2006 at 04:46 PM (#2145630)
Dave, that was a terrific series of posts, clearly a labor of love.

And having grown up in the Kaline-Clemente era, one factor which I don't think has been sufficiently brought up is that while Kaline's stats were somewhat better, and while there's no question that Clemente's value was diminished by his relatively low OBP, Clemente was playing in a league which was far more competitive than the AL of Kaline's time. I know that this is a subject worthy of an entire thread in itself, but I'd leave it with the comment that the only people who doubt that the NL was a vastly superior league in the mid 50's-early 70's were those who weren't around to see it.

I'm not saying this at all to denigrate Kaline, whom I agree is underrated by the casual fan of today. But when one set of statistics, compiled in an inferior league, is marginally superior to another set, compiled in a superior league, I doubt if those statistics alone are enough to prove any claims of the first player's inherent superiority. It's like that comical claim that the 1954 Indians were a historically great team simply because they went 89 and 21 against the bottom 5 teams in the AL.
   98. Daryn Posted: August 18, 2006 at 05:28 PM (#2145760)
-65 148 213 Joe DiMaggio
-64 92 156 Goose Goslin
-62 137 199 Joe Adcock
-59 54 113 Elston Howard
-58 57 115 Mickey Vernon
-54 29 83 Gil McDougald
-54 103 157 Tim Wallach
-51 44 95 Ed Yost
-50 67 117 Bob Watson
-48 45 93 Bill Mazeroski

Clemente is at -38 (101-139).


That's a fascinating list and points out something that I probably should have guessed -- the real sluggers aren't affected that badly by park HR differences. Nobody with 400+ HRs is on the list. They can hit it out of any park. It is the tweeners that get hurt by a few dozen extra feet here and there.

Nonetheless, I still would have thought that even by happenstance (random fluctuation) one of the 500+ sluggers would have more than a 50 HR swing.
   99. Mike Emeigh Posted: August 18, 2006 at 05:32 PM (#2145776)
the real sluggers aren't affected that badly by park HR differences.


Or maybe the real sluggers were perceived that way in part because of their home parks. With even a fifty-fifty split in HRs, DiMag would have hit over 400 and Adcock would have been right there close.

-- MWE
   100. Daryn Posted: August 18, 2006 at 05:37 PM (#2145807)
Or maybe the real sluggers were perceived that way in part because of their home parks. With even a fifty-fifty split in HRs, DiMag would have hit over 400 and Adcock would have been right there close.

Sure, but 426 is the highest you get using this metric. Why does nobody with the ability to hit more than 426 homers (there are 37 of them) have a bad split?
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