Clemente Jr. visits Point Park

Rimg_1127oberto Clemente Jr. came by the Center for Media Innovation today. He was a huge help while I was working on the book, All About Roberto Clemente, and it was great to reconnect with him now that it’s finished. He has a great understanding of his father’s legacy and a vision for carrying it forward. Plus, he’s constantly thinking about Pittsburgh.

My friend Chris Rolinson made the visit possible. He and Roberto are working on ways to provide clean water to places in the Dominican and Africa where it’s needed. And yet I shamelessly cropped him out of the photo!

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Book review: ‘Clemente’ tells story bigger than baseball

screen-shot-2017-01-24-at-8-52-42-amThe Pittsburgh Tribune-Review wrote a colorful review of my latest book, “All About Roberto Clemente.” They noted that the book spends a lot more time talking about Clemente, the human being — and not just his activity as a ballplayer. An excerpt:

Those who saw Clemente play will never forget his laser-like throws from right field that froze baserunners, or his daring moves on the basepaths. But Conte’s book gives as much if not more time to Roberto Clemente the human being.

Read the full review here.

Finding lost images

John Brewer examining some of the thousands of Courier photos he is preserving. Photo by Sidney Davis.

John Brewer examining some of the thousands of Courier photos he is preserving. Photo by Sidney Davis.

While researching my upcoming book about the Steelers’ secret strategy for winning championships, I met John Brewer. He’s a historian who had the good fortune of finding a cache of old production books from the Pittsburgh Courier that everyone thought had been lost. Brewer has since started the tedious process of preserving the newspaper’s images. Because the Courier was the nation’s leading black newspaper for much of the 20th Century, its archives show the history of African-Americans across sports, entertainment and every day life. I wrote about Brewer’s experience for the Tribune-Review, and interviewed him for WESA-FM, Pittsburgh’s NPR affiliate.

As Courier publisher Rod Doss told me: “A lot of the photographs captured the culture of a community that otherwise was not seen in other media. It showcases the community activities, the lifestyle activities, the dress that was maintained, the nightlife, the Negro leagues. All those things were captured in these photographs.”

For someone with a keen eye, the images also present some of the rarest moments in sports history. Brewer has one image (below) that shows Satchel Paige, the great Cleveland Indians hurler, inside a Hill District club when he played with the Pittsburgh Crawfords of the Negro leagues. He’s there with Gus Greenlee, the Crawfords’ owner and notorious numbers-runner, along with Wendell Smith, the Courier sports reporter who famously advocated for Major League Baseball to integrate (familiar for anyone who has seen “42”), and Bill Nunn Sr., the paper’s managing editor and the father of its black college All-America teams. More on that to come later this year.

You can find my full Trib story here: http://triblive.com/news/allegheny/8394422-74/courier-brewer-pittsburgh#ixzz3bFiNChTB.

And you can hear the WESA-FM segment on Essential Pittsburgh here: http://wesa.fm/post/forgotten-courier-closet-yields-wealth-pittsburgh-black-history.

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Photo (of the original photo) by Sidney Davis.

 

 

 

 

PNC Park too crowded for ballhawks

Maybe you’ve heard of ballhawks. These are guys (and they all seem to be guys, fully grown) who go to Major League Baseball games to collect as many baseballs as they can — home runs, fouls, tossups from friendly players.

Point Park student Alex Stumpf profiles ballhawks this week. And in the process, he uncovers a gripe from one who used to clean up at a nearly empty PNC Park. The Pirates have become too popular, he says. Check it out — along with the great photos by student Matt Nemeth — and see if you agree.

Either way, two weeks to Opening Day on the North Shore.

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Ballhawk Erik Jabs has a collection of nearly 3,000 baseballs. Photo: Matt Nemeth | Point Park News Service

By Alex Stumpf, Point Park News Service:

Ian Weir does not remember when he went to his first baseball game, but he remembers what he brought.

“I’ve taken my glove to every baseball game I’ve ever been to,” Weir, 20, of Oakmont, said.

Weir used his glove to snag nearly 200 balls last year and is a part of a distinct demographic of fans known as “ballhawks.”ballhawk3

A ballhawk refers to a fan that is able to collect multiple baseballs a game. They say they do this for a variety of reasons, from being able to tour stadiums around the country, to meeting fellow ballhawks nationwide and to boosting their memorabilia collections. The subject has spawned multiple blogs, a book and even a documentary narrated by Bill Murray.

Read the rest of the story here.