In nature, there are certain movements so swift and so graceful that no mortal can adequately describe what has taken place. In the upper branches of a fir tree, a squirrel goes bounding from level to level, his eyes focused on the horizon, his heart pounding gently with the vibrations of the earth itself. Beyond a copse of birches, a doe stirs. Somewhere inside her she knows that a hunter is waiting, hip-deep in the snow. Swiftly, she turns and goes leaping through the drifts.
No man living is skillful enough to describe exactly how Roberto Clemente moved through the meadows of our land for 18 summers. His was a special style and grace. It was a smooth motion, fluid and compact. Most of the people who bought tickets to watch him play right field for the Pittsburgh Pirates never seemed to appreciate what he could do. They accepted it. But they never appreciated it. Pay $3.50 and see Roberto do the impossible. He was brilliant, to use a phrase that doesn’t really do justice to his memory.
No athlete of Clemente’s quality has been taken for granted quite so shamelessly. The customers applauded him like human beings who had seen too much television. Magic was dead. The super-sensational was too ordinary. Perfection was their birthright. They paid their money and they sat there as baseballs went sailing off toward a glove that never made a mistake. It was far too easy, far too sweet. Roberto just couldn’t make the game of baseball look hard enough.
From the San Francisco Examiner via Deadline Artists.
[Illustrations by Wilfred Santiago]