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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Showtime’s ‘Bad Hombres’ Is A Documentary Highlighting The World’s Only Binational Baseball Team

Entertainment

Showtime’s ‘Bad Hombres’ Is A Documentary Highlighting The World’s Only Binational Baseball Team

tecolotes_2_laredos / Instagram

Sports have a way of bringing people together. The experience of rooting for your team is a unifying feeling that transcends borders and culture. Showtime is exploring the importance of sports through the lens of the Tecolotes de los Dos Laredos.

“Bad Hombres” is a documentary highlighting immigration under President Trump through baseball.

Tecolotes de los Dos Laredos are the only binational professional baseball team in the world. The team splits their home games between stadiums in Laredo, Texas and Nuevo Laredo, Mexico. Director Andrew Glazer wanted to highlight the immigration issue through a sports lens to offer a different layer to the narrative.

“Most of the people trying to come into the U.S. are families and children trying to escape horrible violence in Central America,” Glazer told CBS Local’s DJ Sixsmith. “That story has been told, so what I wanted to do was show people in a way that I thought would be relatable to what life is like on the border. What life is like on those two sides and how interconnected they are. The thing that struck me to be honest is that initially in Laredo, Texas was how pervasive Spanish is spoken.”

The documentary shows the struggles of the baseball team trying to make sense of the volatile U.S.-Mexico border relations.

The Tecolotes de los Dos Laredos split time playing their home games between two stadiums in the U.S. and Mexico. The Trump administration’s constant battle with Mexico and threats to close the border put the team’s season in jeopardy. A first look teaser shows team managers trying to coordinate the release of game tickets in time with the ever-changing immigration announcements from the Trump administration.

“Bad Hombres” speaks politics without directly addressing politics.

“Even though my film has an overarching political message, the players are not covertly or overtly political in any way,” Glazer told CBS Local’s DJ Sixsmith. “They are baseball players and they are living their lives and a lot of them are trying to make it to the majors and some of them were in the majors and are now finishing their careers. There wasn’t a whole lot of political discussions.”

Glazer made sure to highlight the depths and complexities of the team members dealing with the political climate without politics.

“Inherently, what made the team fascinating is you had players from the U.S. who were Anglo-American players and Mexican American players who had a different perspective,” Glazer told DJ Sixsmith. “Then you had Mexican players and some Dominican players and Cuban and people from everywhere else. There were different languages and different perspectives. Seeing how that developed over time was pretty fascinating.”

“Bad Hombres” is streaming on Showtime.

READ: Veronica Alvarez Is The Coach For The Oakland A’s And Her Presence Is Giving Girls A Chance To Pursue Baseball

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Vanessa Bryant Says Gigi Told Rob Pelinka The Lakers Would Win The Title This Year

Entertainment

Vanessa Bryant Says Gigi Told Rob Pelinka The Lakers Would Win The Title This Year

Harry How / Getty

The Lakers took home a massive win on Oct. 11 and scored a victory that spurred heartfelt reflection from longtime fans and family of the Los Angeles- based team After a year of devastating heartache and uncertainty, the feat was a reminder of the absence of a great presence that had long dominated basketball courts: Kobe Bryant.

In a post shared to her Instagram over the weekend, Vanessa Bryant congratulated the Lakers’ victory while paying tribute to her late husband and daughter.

Instagram

Bryant congratulated the Lakers for their win in a heartfelt Instagram post that featured an image of Kobe alongside the Lakers General Manager Rob Pelinka. “Congratulations Uncle P!” Bryant wrote. “Congratulations @lakers Kobe was right, RP! ‘Stay the course-block out the noise. Wish Kobe and Gigi were here to see this.”

Soon after the win, the Lakers were quick to share that their motivation to win came in large part in wanting to pay tribute to Lakers legend Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gigi. According to Lakers Daily, Gigi predicted the 2020 win to Lakers vice president of basketball operations Rob Pelinka.

Home / Media / Rob Pelinka says Vanessa Bryant would send him clips of Kobe during dark times in NBA bubble

Rob Pelinka says Vanessa Bryant would send him clips of Kobe during dark times in NBA bubble

  • By Jonathan Sherman
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  • Updated: October 23, 2020
Rob Pelinka, Kobe Bryant and Vanessa Bryant

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The Los Angeles Lakers had a mission to win an NBA title to honor the memory of Kobe Bryant.

When Bryant tragically passed earlier this year, the entire team rallied together and promised that it would do all it could to do what Bryant would have wanted.

While he is gone, it turns out his wisdom and determination to be great helped push Lakers general manager and vice president of basketball operations Rob Pelinka while he was in the NBA bubble in Orlando, Fla.https://825985290c3e29654a8fc734545f271a.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-37/html/container.html

Pelinka, who worked as Bryant’s agent but was also his close friend, told Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN that Vanessa would send Pelinka clips Kobe to help him get through isolation.

“You’re in a hotel room for 100 nights. The walls are closing in and after a tough loss you think the world is coming to an end,” Pelinka told Wojnarowski.

“There were times that I would hear his voice and then Vanessa, who is still one of my best friends, she would call, and she would even send a couple clips of him talking to me so I could hear his voice,” Pelinka said. “Just that support still feels like it’s there, but the extent of the loss feels like a superhero because that’s what he was and still is to me.”

Fans were quick to point out that the team’s win coincided with Father-Daughter Day.

“Kobe and GG were taken so.suddenly and so cruelly because they were needed for a fight…they are not gone forever they are with you now. They await your reunion…but do not want you to be sad ….they miss you but will be happy if their departure means a greater change for humanity,” one user commented. ” God bless you Vanessa. Although I havent seen your skin with my eyes…I can feel your pain with my mind. Please Father comfort this beautiful woman and her beautiful children. Shine your light of love wrap her in your warmth. Your husband loves and adores you. And he’s proud of how you are so strong.”

“Job Finished. For you, Kobe,” another user wrote about the win. “What a season it’s been. No. 17 carries a different meaning because of the loss of you and Gigi. You mean so damn much to us. You gave us 20 years of your blood, sweat, and tears. You brought not one, but FIVE championships to this franchise. You’re the reason we’re proud to be Lakers fans. Not only did you win at all costs, but you embodied the man we all strive for & hope to be one day. I hope we made you proud this season. This one’s for you, Bean… for all the memories you’ve given us throughout your lifetime. As always, we love & miss you, Mamba.”

Bryant also paid tribute to her husband-daughter duo on Instagram with an image of Kobe holding Gianna in his arms after the Lakers won the 2009 NBA Championship.

Since their passing, fans have often pointed out that Kobe and Gianna shared a special bond and love for basketball. Later in his career, Kobe was open about his love for his daughters and desire to see Giana take on his legacy as a basketball player. At the time of his death, Bryant was a coach for Gianna’s team at the Mamba Sports Academy in Thousand Oaks, California.

During a memorial for her husband and daughter, Bryant eulogized their bond noting how inseparable they were.

https://www.instagram.com/p/CGLe-vqDxLS/

In Bryant’s eulogy of her husband and daughter, she reminded the world of their inseparable bond. “God knew they couldn’t be on this earth without each other,” Bryant remarked at the time. “He had to bring them home to heaven together.”

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