Roberto Clemente Bibliography - TSN's RC Chronology

From BR Bullpen

Such piecemeal Clemente chronicling as can be found in the pages of The Sporting News is largely the handiwork of one Lester J. Biederman, longtime sports writer and ultimately sports editor at the Pittsburgh Press. During Clemente's rookie season, he shared the duties of Pirates' correspondent at TSN with the Post-Gazette's Jack Hernon. By 1956, Clemente's sparkling sophomore session, Biederman could lay sole claim to that title, only surrendering it upon his retirement in 1969, once again to the rival Post-Gazette, this time in the person of Charley Feeney.

Biederman’s relationship to Clemente is an intriguing one; he is the Pittsburgh writer who actively campaigned among other writers on behalf of Dick Groat and against Clemente and Don Hoak for the 1960 NL MVP award. I had been aware of the anti-Clemente campaign for a number of years before I knew the identity of the writer. I’d always assumed it was Jack Hernon, who 1) displayed on occasion a palpable antipathy toward Clemente [somewhat akin to Pirate reliever Elroy Face’s attitude toward his Puerto Rican teammate] and 2) was no longer, during the final cancer-shortened year of his life, on speaking terms with Clemente [1]. But it is indeed Biederman who’s been ‘fingered’ as the culprit by both Pittsburgh Courier columnist Bill Nunn [2] and Pirates GM Joe Brown [3].

Not having access either to any of Biederman’s communications with other writers or to any first-hand accounts by any of the recipients of such communications, I have no idea to what extent his behind-the-scenes campaign was an attack on Clemente [or Don Hoak] rather than merely a plug for Groat, although certainly the unsolicited electioneering seems inappropriate in any case. However, I have seen The Sporting News dispatches and they clearly reveal an aggressive push on Biederman’s part on behalf of Groat’s candidacy. But subsequent to and even prior to that point, his coverage of Clemente is pretty enthusiastic, although certainly increasingly so throughout the sixties. If Clemente indeed wanted to sell baseball on the idea of Roberto Clemente as the best player in the league following his 1960 MVP disappointment, he definitely found a buyer in Biederman, who, well before his retirement in 1969, had proclaimed Clemente the best player he’d ever seen, a claim which – considering when he started covering the team, and even excluding the American League – takes in a nice chunk of real estate: I’m thinking Mays, Aaron, Musial, Rogers Hornsby, Frank Robinson, Mel Ott, Johnny Mize and Ernie Banks.


  1. Bruce Markusen, Roberto Clemente: The Great One, p. 40
  2. Markusen, Roberto Clemente: The Great One, p. 104
  3. Jim O’Brien, Maz and the ’60 Bucs, p. 171
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