Roberto Clemente Day 2009

clemente_day_logo.jpgWhat a better way to honor a humanitarian, civil servant and not to mention baseball player. Roberto Clemente is a legend. Not just in Pittsburgh but across the baseball world. Not just our country of the United State but the world. From the desolate islands of Latin America to the hills of Western Pennsylvania. Clemente paved teh way for so many athletes to make their way to America and make a living playing the sport they love. While he was not the first minority or Latin American ballplayer for that matter the impact he made on the game is second to none.

Clemente showcased his unparralled athletic ability and proved that spanish speaking ballplayers could flourish in America. Clemente played his entire 18 year career in the black and gold uniform of the Pirates. He was originally signed by the Dodgers but thanks to teh Rule 5 draft Pittsburgh was bale to lure him away. In perhaps the biggest move of the 1950s or even in all of the storied years of Major League Baseball.

In a Pirates uniform Roberto gave 100% effort no matter the situation, scenario or possiblity.
roberto.jpgIn the outfield he had amazing speed and range. He had the arm of a cannon and could gun down runners at any base. At the plate he made contact and could rip the ball a mile. He had a knack for seeing good pitches and could hit nearly anything. He recorded 3,000 hits over the span of nearly two decades.


In 1973 the Roberto Clemente award was established.

hdr_clemente_08_595.jpgOriginally called the Commisioners award it was renamed after the tragic plane crash death of Roberto himself. He dies much to young but died in the most respectable way possible. Delievering hurricane relief supplies to Nicaragua. His passion was helping others. He was quoted saying many beautiful comments about his life in Puerto Rico and how giving back is the most important thing in life. The award has been given to the MLB player that has emphasized the ideals of Roberto. last year, Albert Pujols took home the award. A player on each team is nominated for the prestigious Clemente trophy. Here is a list of all the players that are nominated for 2009.

Even today people recognize the accomplishments and life of Roberto. Every player hailing from the Latin America part of the world feels his prescence and carries the torch Clemente has passed to each of them.

Just last night I had the privelege of watching the movie Sugar.

1201018.jpg It is the story of ficticious pitcher Miguel Santos. While it is a work of fiction it portrays what every single ballplayer from the Dominican Republic must go through to crack a major league roster. The sport is king on the island and with millions of young players out there only a select lucky few are noticed by major league scouts. The movie take you to the town of San Pedro from the neighborhood slums to the Baseball Academy established by Kansas City.

Miguel is part of teh academy trying to pitch his way to the United States. He is eventually brought up and proves himself in spring training. He makes a single A roster in a farm town in Iowa. The boundaries he experiences and the struggles he goes through are always overlooked. The problems that are experienced by all Domincan ballplayers trying to make it through a major league system are defined in this movie. Miguel comes across Roberto Clemente, while he was never introduced to the story of his life he reads a book about his life to pass the time while traveling to and from small town cities. He turns into his favorite player and he relaizes him and Roberto went through the same things and have a similair story.

This movie is a must see for every baseball fan. It makes you laugh and cry and gives a greater appreciation for foreign born players. I do not want to give too much away but I will leave you with this. For every Jose Reyes, Robinson Cano and Johnny Cueto there is a Miguel Santos.





  1. raysrenegade

    Great award to honor such a fantastic player and humanitarian.
    I am guessing it might come down to Albert Pujols again and it might be his to lose. But still, the legacy of this award and the respect that it brings to the game and the honored player is awesome.
    I never got to see Roberto Clemente play except in videos and film clips, but the ease and grace of his motions both at the plate and in the field truly make me wish I could have seen him in real life. It would make all of this even more exciting to me.
    Great post. Prefect imagery.

    Rays Renegade

  2. JQuist

    Roberto Clemente… what a shame. I remember learning about Clemete and seeing a movie when I was in 4th grade… never forgot his story or his name. Great stuff man – he’s definently a giant reason the Pirates have such an amazing history…

  3. metmainman

    Back when the All-Star game was in Pittsburgh – 2006 I think it was – I heard that Clemente was having his number retired. I thought it was in all of baseball, but then I found out it was just for the Pirates. If you ask me, everyone should retire number 21 in honor of Roberto Clemente, because what he did set the bar for excellence in giving back. If he did not do what he did, we may not have so many ballplayers with there great charities and fundations.

  4. Elizabeth D.

    Nice entry, Matt. I’ve been amazed by everything I’ve heard about Clemente. It must have been a terrible day for the world when he died–and he young too, and in the prime of his career. I can only imagine what more he could have done if he had had the chance.
    I was watching an interesting segment on him on MLB Network, and his son actually had a premonition about his father not coming back. I was also amazed at some of his artifacts that I was able to see at the Baseball Hall of Fame. I’ll post the pictures on Facebook eventually. I hope all is well 🙂

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