The Rest to Sharks & Gods
From the stunning, lyrical conclusion of David Maraniss's superb new biography of baseball legend Roberto Clemente, who died in a 1972 plane crash, en route to his native Nicaragua, while delivering relief supplies in the wake of an earthquake:
'The seers and psychics were less effective in zeroing in on Roberto Clemente. Rumors and false sightings continued. They were no closer to finding him than was his youngest son, Little Ricky, who picked up the telephone and pretended he was talking to his father. No closer than the mourners who started rowing out from the beach to spread flower petals in the sacred water. Vic Power had been convinced that his friend was alive until he saw a photograph of some more debris collected from the wreckage. There was the briefcase Clemente had bought in Nicaragua during the baseball trip with the little aligator head he thought looked funny and wanted to cut off. Ohhh baby, Power said, he's gone. That was January 6th, Three Kings Day. Later that day, Power joined fellow ballplayers at the annual Puerto Rico Winter League All-Star game at Hiram Bithorn Stadium. The game was conducted in honor of Clemente, the greatest Latino player of them all. The long, bleak week was closing, and at the end, after his people by the thousands lined the Atlantic shore in the expectation that Clemente would walk out of the sea, and thousands more made pilgrimages up the hillside to shuffle past his house like a shrine, and the seers said that he was alive, but dazed, and President Nixon got involved at the White House, and the Pittsburgh comrades arrived in Puerto Rico to show their grief and solidarity, and the U.S. Coast Guard with all its boats and planes and divers and equipment, slowly dragged up the wreckage and debris, searching in a Probability of Detection Area stretching for miles--at the end, finally, on a coral reef a mile east of Punta Maldonado, they found one sock, and Vera knew it was Roberto's. One sock, that's all, the rest to sharks and gods.'