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Roy Blount Jr.
March 19, 1973
With Roberto Clemente gone, Pittsburgh's fielding problems are manifold. Go-go bats must compensate for so-so gloves
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March 19, 1973

Now Playing Right: Manny Sanguillen

With Roberto Clemente gone, Pittsburgh's fielding problems are manifold. Go-go bats must compensate for so-so gloves

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"Big game or not," says May, " Clemente was always diving to make a play. You'd think, who am I to loaf if a fella like that is busting his butt?"

"But it wasn't life and death every moment," says Blass. "Three minutes before game time he'd be stretched out naked on the training table. We timed him once at 34 seconds getting into a full uniform. We laid it all out and it just jumped on him.

"We'll miss his agitating. Other guys, people just look up for a minute and say, 'Oh, that's just Johnson yelling at Blass again.' But when Clemente got to going back and forth with somebody, you knew it was something good, and a crowd would gather."

" Baltimore without Frank Robinson," a baseball man said when Robinson was traded to L.A., "is like, God forbid, a mother of six young children dying." Clemente was not the same kind of strong, stalwart figure on the Pirates. He was a more complex human being. He was very proud, and could seem very innocent and also very defensive. He didn't like to play when he fell below par, because he didn't like to misrepresent his abilities. And some of the complaints that kept him below par seemed exotic. The Pirate team he came up with resented his peculiarities, and he remained distant. After the 1960 World Series he dressed quickly, left the clubhouse celebration and went down to whoop it up with the fans.

The grandness with which Clemente approached the '71 Series might have put off many teammates. Stargell was not hitting, Clemente told Sanguillen, so "I'm going to have to sacrifice myself to hit the long ball." The possibility for friction existed between Clemente and Stargell, who always played hurt. There was no such friction.

Clemente's fellow stars in the last few years seemed to realize that having him around was well worth their accepting his own rich sense of himself. And as intent as they were last week on looking ahead and advancing their own careers, they didn't have to be prodded much to talk about Clemente. "I wanted the chance to play," said May, "but if this is what it took for me to get it...."

"He told me that the last three years he was the happiest man in the world," said Sanguillen. "He say, 'When I am sick and go home now I listen to you guys play on radio and I'm so happy because of all the talents. I know somebody going to do something.'

"When he die it was so big in Puerto Rico people stop everything. Nobody have any more parties for New Year's. Everybody go to the beach to try to find him. Try to find the body or at least something. I was really hurt for his wife. I know how much one and the other used to love, and be together. She went down to the beach every day, too, to pray or see what she could do. I think she is still going down there.

" Clemente is still on the ball club. His spirit belong here. You know how great he was in the outfield. And he gives his life for somebody he don't know."

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