As the Seattle Mariners embark on another season of despair and sordid revelations of players on performance enhancing drugs continue to grab headlines, cartoonist Wilfred Santiago reminds us why we love the game of baseball. 21: The Story of Roberto Clemente documents the unlikely career of the Pittsburgh Pirates legend. Clemente's inspirational rise from the barrios of Puerto Rico to the highest levels of our national pastime was heroic enough. Not content with the fame and fortune brought by his baseball abilities, Clemente became a tireless advocate for social justice and the plight of the underclass throughout Latin America.
Over the course of his storied career, Clemente overcame the racial discrimination of the era to win awards in nearly every category, including the World Series MVP in 1971. Despite his success on the field, Clemente never forgot his roots, returning in the off-season to manage and play with minor league teams on the impoverished island.
For all his staggering athletic accomplishments, it was his unflinching humanitarianism that cemented Clemente into our culture's consciousness. While visiting Puerto Rico in 1972, Nicaragua experienced a devastating earthquake. Clemente immediately began a relief effort, sending planeloads of supplies to the beleaguered country. When he learned these shipments were being diverted by corrupt officials, he boarded a flight to Managua. The plane, overloaded with supplies, fell out of the sky after take off. His body was never found. Clemente remains a hero throughout the hemisphere. He has been posthumously awarded the Congressional Gold Medal and the Presidential Medal of Freedom, among countless others. Major League Baseball honors the player that best exemplifies his commitment to public service with the Roberto Clemente Award.
Clemente's cartoon biographer Wilfred Santiago will appear at Fantagraphics Bookstore & Gallery on Wednesday, May 4 at 6:00 PM. His sensitive portrayal of this amazing story is rendered seamlessly with cinematic verve. Santiago will discuss his graphic novel with bestselling author Rob Neyer, national baseball editor for SBNation.com, followed by an informal reception and book signing. Please join us for this momentous occasion.
Wilfred Santiago in conversation with Rob Neyer on 21: The Story of Roberto Clemente Wednesday, May 4, 6:00 - 8:00 PM Fantagraphics Bookstore & Gallery 1201 S. Vale Street. Seattle. Phone: 206.658.0110
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