Sunday, May 4, 2008

Roberto de Carolina

It's been over two weeks since my last blog post, mostly because everything in my life had been put on hold for a month or so as we were working on the publicity side of a pretty big project at work.

Now that's over, and it's back to semi-normal, so hopefully I'll be back to blogging more often in my free time.

Having a weekend devoid of a visit to the office for the first time in a while meant I got to catch up on some DVR viewing. Chief on my list was a PBS special on one of my long-standing heroes, Roberto Clemente. It's no longer running on TV but will be available at some point during May for streaming on the "American Experience" web site.

I was 3 years old when the legendary Pittsburgh Pirates outfielder died in a tragic plane crash, so while I have no claim on actually having seen him play, his reputation loomed large in baseball lore, and both my grandfather and father spoke admiringly of him when I was growing up.

As I grew older, I learned why he was beloved beyond the baseball field and practically considered a saint in the Latino community and elsewhere. On the field, he led the Pirates to two World Series championships, hit for power and average, had great speed, fielded his position with the best in the major leagues, and possessed arguably the strongest outfield throwing arm in the history of baseball.

Off the diamond, he was a civil rights activist, dignified native son of Carolina, Puerto Rico, and selfless humanitarian whose death while on an aid mission to take food to earthquake victims in Nicaragua still reverberates.

In his honor, Major League Baseball conveys its annual Roberto Clemente Award to a player "who demonstrates the values Clemente displayed in his commitment to community and understanding the value of helping others."

In other words, as a certain New Jersey musician I'm fond of following around the country used to say during his concerts, "Nobody wins unless everybody wins."

¡Viva Roberto!

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