Speaking of Roger Angell, after going to hear David Maraniss talk about his new book on Roberto Clemente last night, I was reminded of Angell's description of Clemente in the 1971 World Serious. Maraniss spoke about Clemente's game going deeper than what the numbers can tell us, and I don't think he meant it as a cop-out. It was meant it as a way of describing somebody whose very body language was memorable--all of a piece. "Sensations" was the term Maraniss used and Clemente certainly made the country take notice with his performance--on the bases, in the field and at the plate--in that Serious (by the way, for what it is worth, Maraniss believes that Clemente would have been a fine player today, and he compared him to two other athletes of that era whose games suggested something timeless--Gayle Sayers and Earl Monroe).
Before Game 7, Clemente told Angell, "I want everybody in the world to know that this is the way I play all the time. All season, every season. I gave everything I had to this game." The final game hadn't begun yet, when Angell, summing-up the first six games, wrote:
And then too, there was the shared experience, already permanently fixed in memory, of Roberto Clemente playing a kind of baseball that none of us had ever seen before--throwing and running and hitting at something close to the level of perfection, playing to win but also playing the game as if it were a form of punishment for everyone else on the field.