Wednesday, December 31, 2008

December 31, 1972

The illusion that lures us into the error of confounding Clemente's goodness as a man with his greatness as a ballplayer is that when a man is playing baseball well, as when a man is writing well, he seems to himself, in that moment, to be a better person than he really is. He puts it all together, he has all the tools, in a way that is impossible outside the lines of the ball field or the margins of the page. He shines, and we catch the reflected glint, and extend the shining one a credit for overall luminosity that almost nobody could merit. Clemente, I think, did; he shone with the grace and integrity of his play even when he was not on the field.