Monday, January 4, 2010
Why Roberto Clemente???
Why Roberto Clemente? Why not. He is one of the best to ever play the game of baseball after all… He had a cannon for an arm and was one of the best defensive right fielders ever. He won 12 consecutive Gold Glove Awards. He was an All Star 15 times, starting 7 of those games in right field. He finished in the top-10 in the MVP voting 8 times and he was the 1966 National League Most Valuable Player. He won 4 batting titles and owns a career .317 batting average. He spent his entire career playing for the Pittsburgh Pirates and he led them to 2 World’s Championships. Did I mention he was the best? Add in 3,000 hits, 440 doubles, 166 triples and 240 homeruns, plus 269 outfield assists and 42 double plays and you have the stats of the greatest. He is a hero, he is a Legend. Ask any Latin American baseball fan who was born in the last 80 years (this troll included) who their sports hero is-the answer is almost always Roberto Clemente. As a humanitarian, celebrity, athlete, international hero, leader, baseball player and multinational citizen he was larger than life. He had the biggest heart and strongest arm of any professional athlete. He was the opposite of the stereotype of the current pampered athlete. He was an absolutely amazing ballplayer and a truly amazing human being. He left this earth way too early (if he died today, it would still be too early) and he left a huge void where he had been. He made this world a better place during the 38 years that he spent on this earth. The good that he did is still felt today and the servitude that he inspired will be felt for years to come. The last day of his life was the first day of mine. My father said he heard the news from a doctor while he was in the delivery room with my Mom. I was born twenty minutes after his plane crashed off the coast of Puerto Rico. As a little boy I was told that I carried a little piece of him with me. A little piece of his goodness and greatness alike. As I have grown up I have held onto the ideal that on the day which would be my first and his last-I took on a little bit of the great Roberto Clemente in myself. Obviously that piece wasn’t his amazing throwing arm or his ability to play the game that I enjoy so much. I do think that I took on a little bit of his goodness, his generosity, his kindness, his compassion and his love for all living things with me. I have tried to live a good life and to help others as often as I could in his memory. I have always tried to do whatever I could to make others more comfortable, safer and happier. Bringing a smile to another’s face is a great reward… These things that I do are mainly because that is how my parents raised me, but also because I feel that I have a debt and responsibility to that Great Right Fielder in the Sky to carry on his unfinished business and keep his legacy of goodness intact. I started to collect his cards because of that. He was a great player and his cards are very pricey and I have never felt good about spending 50 dollars on a card while others are starving, so my Clemente collection is very small and was built primarily on gifts from others. That makes it so much more special to me. Looking at his cards reminds me that there are more important things in the world than baseball, but that this sport offers a wonderful distraction sometimes… I have many more to scan, but shown throughout this post are a few of Roberto Clemente’s cards from my personal collection. Like I said, most have come from the kindness of others which suits Clemente to a tee. I want to thank my friend Alfredo and everyone else who has paid it forward and shared Roberto Clemente cards with me. It now been 37 years since he left this world-looking down I wonder how he would feel about it today… I love this hobby! (Please excuse the lack of timeliness in this post… It was intended to be posted on 12-31-2009-the 37th anniversary of Clemente’s death. I ended up working an unplanned double that day followed with volunteering at All Charities on 01/01/10 and the post got pushed back… Clemente forever!!! ENDNOTES: The '68 Clemente has been with me a LONG time... It was a flea market purchase from 1980. The '69 came from Closet Full of Cardboard, the '68 Managers Dream was a Christmas Gift from reader Hank and the modern cards all came from Wicked Ortega... Thanks to all who have hooked me up! I repeat, Clemente Forever!!! Troll out.