Entertainment

Here’s Why Robert Clemente Remains As Relevant Today As He Was The Day He Died

If you’re Puerto Rican, you grew up knowing who Roberto Clemente was. You might even have a vela of him lit in your house right now. Roberto Clemente was a legend on the baseball field and truly saintly in his personal life.

Clemente’s life and career reads like every Latino mother’s dream: he was truly the best at everything he did. Here are just 21 of the hundreds of facts I could tell you right now.

Roberto Enrique Clemente Walker was born in 1934.

CREDIT: @BeschlossDC / Twitter

Let’s set the stage here. Clemente is an Afro-Puerto Rican born in Isla Verde, Carolina, Puerto Rico to Don Melchor Clemente and Luisa Walker. He’s from the same town as boxers Esteban De Jesus and Alfredo Escalera.

He was the youngest of seven kids.

CREDIT: @TheRealSangy35 / Twitter

His father worked in the sugarcane fields as a foreman, and, with such a big family, everyone chipped in a bit. Roberto would help load and unload trucks for his dad.

He started out as a track and field star in high school.

CREDIT: @JohnDreker / Twitter

His dream was to compete in the Olympics for the sport, but Puerto Rico got to him. The national passion for the sport made him decide to redirect his attention to the game.

By the time he was 16 years old, he was on Puerto Rico’s amateur baseball league.

CREDIT: @baseballhall / Twitter

The story goes that Roberto Marín spotted Clemente playing baseball in his barrio and was recruited for softball. He played shortstop for two years at Julio Vizcarrondo Coronado High School. Then, Ferdinand Juncos found him.

He spent the first season on the bench.

CREDIT: @baseballhall / Twitter

By the next season, he was promoted to the Cangrejeros (“Crabbers”) starting lineup. He hit a .288 and became the leadoff hitter.

The Brooklyn Dodgers signed him with a $10k bonus.

CREDIT: @BSmile / Twitter

That meant he had to move to Montreal. Apparently, the cold and the language barrier was a major culture shock to the islander and he made fast friends with bilingual teammates Chico Fernandez, Tommy Lasorda, and Joe Black.

The size of his bonus automatically put him on the Major League roster.

CREDIT: @DugoutLegends / Twitter

The Pittsburgh Pirates selected him first overall in 1954 after the Dodgers’ coach tried to hide him from recruiters. The Dodgers rarely played Clemente at all to continue hiding his raw talents from other recruiters, in hopes they could keep him for a season. Nope.

His first major league game was against the Dodgers.

CREDIT: @Pirates / Twitter

Clemente ended up going 1-for-4 and scored a home run. Also, fun fact, Clemente was No. 13 until center fielder Earl Smith left the team in April 1955.

He was in a car accident during his first professional season and missed several games.

CREDIT: @si_vault / Twitter

He had a lower back injury but still ended up playing in 124 games with a .255 batting average. Impressive, no? Five years into playing with the Pirates, he led them to a World Series.

Clemente is the first starting Latino to help win a World Series in 1960.

CREDIT: @SInow / Twitter

In all his firsts, he’s also the first Caribbean person, as well. If you’re wondering what the difference is, just think in terms of colonizers. Spain overtook Puerto Rico, Cuba, and the Dominican Republic while other countries like the U.S. and France used their force and power to literally own other islands.

In 1958, Clemente enlisted in the Navy.

CREDIT: @TheBuccosFan / Twitter

He spent six months on active duty at Parris Island, South Carolina and served until 1964. That means that while he was serving, he was also winning World Series.

Announcers kept calling him “Bob” and he kept insisting his name was Roberto.

CREDIT: @BSmile / Twitter

Even baseball card companies like Topps made cards that red Bob Clemente. Clemente had the Latino burden of constantly combatting the colonization of even his name from Anglo-America.

Even his plaque at the Baseball Hall of Fame used the incorrect name.

CREDIT: @BleacherReport / Twitter

Instead of using the Latino naming customs of putting his mother’s maiden name after his father’s last name, they called him “Roberto Walker Clemente.” Decades later they corrected it in 2000 when it was recast properly.

He finished his career with exactly 3,000 hits.

CREDIT: @Super70sSports / Twitter

The last one was against the New York Mets on September 30, 1972, and it ended in a double off. Clemente had been asked about this moment years before and in an interview, he doubted whether he would ever even live to see the day.

Clemente was widely honored for his humanitarian efforts during his life.

CREDIT: @JennaLaineESPN / Twitter

After the 1972 earthquake in Nicaragua, which decimated the country, Clemente was immediately sending shipments to aid the country. When he learned that the last three shipments had been diverted by the corrupt government, he decided that maybe his presence on the next shipment would make sure the goods got into the right hands.

Unfortunately, the plane crashed immediately after taking off from Puerto Rico.

CREDIT: @darrenrovell / Twitter

Apparently, the plane he charted had a history of mechanical problems, and it was also overloaded by 4,200 pounds. Four other people were killed in the crash.

Clemente is the only Hall of Fame member who was inducted against the mandatory five-year waiting period rule.

CREDIT: @BaseballQuotes / Twitter

He was elected posthumously just three months after his tragic passing and inducted three months later. The only Pirates member to not attend his funeral was on the dive team in Puerto Rico attempting to recover his body. It was never found.

Clemente continues to inspire young people y Boricuas to this day.

CREDIT: @TonyDungy / Twitter

Bridges are named after him in Pittsburgh.

There’s a whole movie about him called Baseball’s Last Hero: 21 Clemente Stories.

CREDIT: @Super70sSports / Twitter

Directed by Richard Rossi, it was the first feature film on the player who was so often overlooked by the media at the time. Rossi feels that Clemente was just as important to baseball as Jackie Robinson and that his number should be universally retired.

Clemente was posthumously awarded a Congressional Gold Medal of Honor for his humanitarian efforts.

CREDIT: @KhaledBeydoun / Twitter

His humanitarian efforts will never be forgotten, and neither will his commitment to his roots while paving the way for so many others to follow in his footsteps. Clemente was the first Latino to be named league MVP, World Series MVP and be elected to the Hall of Fame.


READ: Roberto Clemente Is Ushering In The End Of Hispanic Heritage Month For Google Doodles

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Bad Bunny And Marc Anthony Will Rebuild Baseball Parks In Puerto Rico Destroyed By Hurricane María

Entertainment

Bad Bunny And Marc Anthony Will Rebuild Baseball Parks In Puerto Rico Destroyed By Hurricane María

badbunnypr / marcanthony / Instagram

While it’s been two years since Hurricane Maria made landfall in Puerto Rico, the recovery efforts aren’t finishing anytime soon. Many people on the island are still trying to put their lives back together, which includes rebuilding homes, churches, and schools. What many might not know is the recovery efforts have also included revitalizing baseball fields on the island where Puerto Ricans once played. 

Among the destruction that both Hurricanes Irma and Maria left in 2017 is more than 300 small league baseball parks that were found inoperative. As a result, many community ball programs were essentially eliminated and youths on the island were essentially left in the dark without fields to play the sport.

Leading the revitalization efforts are Puerto Rico’s own two native sons: Bad Bunny and Marc Anthony. The duo, along with Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC), a U.S. community development non-profit, has teamed up for a new program called Play Ball Again. The purpose of the initiative will be to help rebuild some of those damaged baseball fields and facilitate local programming for 17,500 youth. It is expected that in total, about 300 facilities will be impacted by this initiative. 

The duo hopes the contributions play a huge role in bringing not only baseball back to the island but a place where people can escape from their worries. 

Credit: @laguerradelbsn / Twitter

The initiative is special to both of them not only because they’re helping youth but they hoping these recovery efforts go a long way in bringing back a sense of community. Maestro Cares Foundation, which Anthony owns, is putting money towards the program with a goal of restoring “normalcy” in Puerto Rico.

“Sports and recreation activities help restore a sense of normalcy, in the wake of disasters,” Anthony, who is among the program’s earliest supporters, said in a press release.” Baseball isn’t just a game in this context. It helps young people do better in school and improves family life and health in difficult circumstances.”

Maestro Cares, along with the Good Bunny Foundation and UNICEF USA, will all be putting forth $300,000 of what LISC expects to be more than $1.6 million in baseball field renovations. Joining the efforts is Chicago Cubs second baseman Javi Baez with his Cubs Charities, which will donate an additional $100,000 in support. This also includes the Kohler Company, which made a donation to fund bathroom fixtures for onsite facilities.

“Two years after these devastating storms, the need to rebuild the island remains strong,” Báez, whose family is from the Bayamón area, said in a press release. “Cubs Charities understood the need and has stepped up to the plate to help restore baseball fields and give kids throughout Puerto Rico the opportunity to play the game. This rebuild will make a big difference for the community, and I am proud to continue my efforts to restore the island.”

The recovery efforts in Puerto Rico have been long and tiresome but the fuel behind the revitalization has always been the people. 

 Credit: UNICEF / MAESTRO CARES

While time may have passed, many on the island of Puerto Rico are still trying to get back on their feet. For Bad Bunny, he knows firsthand the power that activities like baseball have on youth. Growing up, baseball was part of his life and much of his time was spent at many of the ballparks that were destroyed in 2017. 

“Growing up on the island I spent a lot of time in some of these parks that are now destroyed,” says Bad Bunny, whose Good Bunny Foundation is part of the initiative. “In parks similar to these, a lot of great athletes like Roberto Clemente, Yadier Molina, Roberto Alomar, Edgar Martinez, and Ivan Rodriguez grew up. Our commitment is to rebuild these parks so that we can help new athletes grow. This is the first step for the rebirth of sports within the island.”

The rebirth of Puerto Rico is taking time but in that process, there is a sense that an even stronger community will come out of this disaster. While simple things like baseball may not seem significant, it’s a part of the fabric of Puerto Rico and displays the love that is shared playing on a field. This rebirth has already started as construction on the baseball field is underway and most field renovations are set for completion by the 2020 season.

READ: The Death of Four-Year-Old Noah Cuatro Has Rocked the Los Angeles Community As They Come to Grips With the Failure of Child Protective Services

Latinidad Is Being Cancelled By Afro And Indigenous People Who Do Not See Themselves Represented

Culture

Latinidad Is Being Cancelled By Afro And Indigenous People Who Do Not See Themselves Represented

indyamoore / Instagram

While we’re in the middle of Hispanic Heritage Month, it’s important to note how the outdated term “Latinidad” excludes a large portion of the Latino community. We’re talking about the existence of indigenous and Black Latinos. The “Hispanic” label specifically includes those from Spain, celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month feels completely weird if you’re Afro or indigenous. 

There’s been more of an uproar recently between Hispanic, Latinos, and Afro-Latinos after musical artist Rosalia got awards and praise for her music as a Latin artist. The thing is that she isn’t Latina, she’s Spanish. That entire debacle was just another nail in the coffin that proves how white-washed our society is, and it’s not just coming from Caucasians but Latinos as well. 

People on social media are using the hashtag #LatinidadIsCancelled to discuss anti-Blackness in the Latino community. Not to mention, how society, in general, discriminates against Black Latinos when referring to Latinos as a whole demographic.

Journalist Felice León did a brilliant segment for The Root titled, “Black and Indigenous Millennials Are Cancelling Latinidad” in which she discusses how Black Latinos are not included under the Latinidad umbrella.

“Latinidad just really just centers on the shared history and shared culture, but doesn’t necessarily, like, delve into all of those multifaceted identities,” writer Janel Martinez told León and added she’s straying from the term Latinidad. “And for me, Latinidad ultimately serves white cis-gendered, straight, wealthy men.” Martinez continued, “I am none of those things, so for me, I’m at the margins of this term.”

While we know Latinos are already excluded from significantly from TV and film, the ones that are visible are mostly white Latinos. 

Credit: @TheRoot / Twitter

You ever noticed how the most popular Latino celebs are light-skinned? We’re talking Jennifer Lopez, Camila Cabello, Gina Rodriguez, America Ferrera, Rosalia and that’s just when referring to the women.

The topic of canceling Latinidad shows how racist our own people are against Black Latinos. 

Credit: @EnLatinidad / Twitter

Ever notice how some Latinos praise a baby that is born with light skin and blue eyes? Or how they object to someone dating a Black man? It is a sentiment that has been part of the Latino community for a very long time.

Afro-Latinos face so much discrimination because of their ancestors, their dark skin, and their hair. 

Credit: @juni0r973 / Twitter

How can a group of Latinos fit nicely and perfectly under the Latinidad family if some people there clearly don’t want to include Black Latinos? It’s kind of sad how light-skinned Latinos favor their whiteness as superiority. Black is beautiful. When will the Latino community finally realize that? Thanks to the inclusion of Black Latinos in the media, we’re able to see the representation even though it’s still quite limited.

The exclusion of Black Latinos could also be seen in this year’s Latin Grammy nominations, which excluded a lot of reggaeton artists. 

Credit: @rosangelica4u / Twitter

Another hashtag making the rounds on the internet included #SinReggaetonNoHayLatinGrammy after several artists spoke out against the Grammy’s exclusion of reggaeton artists. The most nominations this year went to two Spanish artists, Rosalia and Alejandro Sanz

While we know some Latinos are racist against their own people, it’s important to know that colonized societies have been white-washed and that cycle continues to this day. 

Credit: @themermacorn / Twitter

How do we break a cycle of racism against our own people? By educating ourselves about the history of our diaspora, and not by closing our eyes to the reality of colonization. We’re not perfect people, but we can learn to be more inclusive by realizing our own hate and blindness. The blatant and longstanding practice of ignoring the Afro and indigenous identities within the Latino community has justifiably left so many people done with Latinidad.

It’s funny how Rosalia was beloved from day one until she starting owning her Latinidad on a public stage. 

Credit: @elliottraylassi / Twitter

During her acceptance speech at this year’s MTV VMAs, Rosalia said, “Wow. I wasn’t expecting this, honestly. Thank you, because it’s such an incredible honor. I come from Barcelona. I’m so happy to be here representing where I come from and representing my culture. … Thank you for allowing me to perform tonight singing in Spanish.”

So if she said she’s representing where she came from, which is Spain, she is certainly not Latina so why is she cradled into that group so openly?

As one person put it nicely on Twitter, @gacd86 writes, “Latinidad isn’t just for white Latinos though. Mestizos participate in the normalization of anti-blackness and the benefit of the exploitation of indigenous communities.” The rampant and dangerous anti-Blackness in the Latino community needs to stop now.

Happy Hispanic Heritage Month.

READ: Spain Has Colonized The 2019 Latin Grammys And Latino Twitter Has Some Serious Thoughts