What 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.
In 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.
Originally 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.
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.