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I said I thought I did and asked how he liked the job at Wellcraft. "Well, I've always been fond of boats," he said. He took out a catalogue, and then the fiercest competitor I've known in baseball set about selling me a cabin cruiser.
A light checking account blocked the sale, but this wasn't precisely like a Wynn ball game. I knew I could resist his will without getting a fastball fired at my head.
THE CHILDREN OF ROBERTO
On a Puerto Rican plain, beside Avenida Iturregui and a pleasant subdivision called Country Club, 600 barren acres stretch under a pitiless sun. Part of the land is dry and caked, part is still marsh. This is Ciudad Deportiva (Sports City), one of the last dreams Roberto Clemente voiced before a DC-7, overloaded and undermanned, carried him to his death in the Caribbean on the night of Dec. 31, 1972.
I suppose sociologists would find Clemente's dream naive. He wanted to build a Puerto Rican sports camp open only to the very poor, who would attend free of charge. He hoped that "every single child from poverty can learn to play sports and maybe make some success as I did." More than $800,000 has been collected for Ciudad Deportiva, and soon four years will have passed since Clemente's death. On the barren plain two bulldozers work at a languorous pace that would have been inimical to Roberto Clemente.
Certain rumors persist about the death of Clemente, neither a saint nor a tramp, but a gifted ballplayer with a social conscience. "Bobby had a woman in Nicaragua," someone insists. "That's the real reason he took that flight." Another Puerto Rican suggests that the plane contained gold, or U.S. dollars, which Clemente was going to sequester beyond the grasp of tax authorities.
These are the facts. That November, Clemente had taken an amateur Puerto Rican baseball team to play a series of games in Nicaragua. He had liked riding in ox carts as a boy in Carolina, his home village, and in Nicaragua he saw ox carts again. He also met a hospitalized child without legs and asked why he had no artificial limbs.
"We don't have any money." the boy said. "Legs would cost $800."
Five weeks later Managua was literally flattened by six violent shocks. Howard Hughes flew away at the first tremor. In Puerto Rico, Clemente organized a relief campaign. He appeared on television and radio, pleading for money, morphine, sugar. Although his back ached, he helped load supplies on trucks in a staging area near Hiram Bithorn Stadium. Then word reached him that soldiers in the Nicaraguan army were stealing the supplies and selling them to earthquake victims.