The Memory of Roberto Clemente Honored in the South Bronx

Howard Goldin

Bronx, NY---For the 13th consecutive year, the productive life, untimely death and important example of service to others by Roberto Clemente are being commemorated in the South Bronx during the month of December.

The event entitled “The 21 Days of Clemente” begins on December 10 and continues until December 31, the 41st anniversary of Clemente’s death in the crash of a plane overloaded with supplies Clemente was bringing to the people of Nicaragua, who had suffered a devastating natural disaster (earthquake). The number of days, 21, was chosen to honor the #21 Clemente wore on his Pittsburgh Pirates jersey during his outstanding MLB career.

 Clemente, a leader of the Pirates during 18 seasons, 1955-1972, was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame shortly after his death. His exploits on-the-field and his sterling character rather than his sudden passing led to his deserved inclusion in the Hall of Fame.

The right fielder was the winner of 12 Gold Gloves for his fielding excellence. He was no less effective at the plate, capturing four National League batting crowns and compiling a lifetime batting average of .317. His superior play and many achievements earned him election to the National League All-Star Team during 12 seasons.

It may seem strange that a player, even as great as Clemente, who played his entire MLB career in a Pirates’ uniform is annually being honored in the Bronx, but Clemente, a native of Puerto Rico, is a hero to the large Latino population of the Bronx for how he lived his life off-the-field in addition to how well he played baseball.

Since Clemente’s life and death provide a teaching and learning occasion, Julio Pabón, the founder and CEO of Latino Sports Ventures, Inc., has devised a non-competitive opportunity for students of elementary school through high school to submit compositions or essays, drawings or sketches or poems or songs about Clemente. The works will be displayed in a very appropriate location, the Roberto Clemente State Park, during the month of December. Each young participant will receive a Certificate of Merit from Bronx Borough President Diaz.

There will also be three organized events. On December 10, at 7 pm, a documentary “The Legacy of 21” will be shown at the Bronx Documentary Center, 614 Courtlandt Avenue, at 151st Street.

On December 16, at 7 pm, Dr. Luis Mojica will speak of a musical and educational presentation on Clemente that is being planned for 2014.

At the final meeting on December 23 at 7 pm, William Soto, Jr. will discuss the movement to retire Clemente’s #21 throughout MLB.

The events of December 16 and 23 will be held at Applebee’s in the Bronx Terminal Mall. There is no charge for attending any of the events.