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Lorain pays tribute to the Great Puerto Rican Baseball Player of All Time: Roberto Clemente. His son Roberto Clemente Jr. makes an appearance

By Ingrid Marie Rivera, La Prensa Correspondent

Puerto Rican icon Roberto Clemente ranks among the best baseball players of all time. He reached the 3,000-hit milestone and earned many titles including the World Series Most Valuable Player Award. Yet his impact stretched beyond the field. As a humanitarian, Clemente dedicated himself to helping the underprivileged and curbing social injustice.

For his devotion on and off the field, Latinos and Lorainites paid tribute to the Latino baseball legend Roberto Clemente, Friday, July 6, 2012, at the Pipe Yard Stadium in Lorain.

Friday’s baseball game between the Prospect League’s Lorain County Ironmen and the Richmond RiverRats, dubbed “the Roberto Clemente Night,” was dedicated to the Latino baseball star.

Roberto Clemente’s son, Roberto Clemente Jr., visited the stadium. He could be spotted smiling, shaking hands, taking pictures, and signing autographs with awe-struck fans.

Roberto Clemente Jr. and Lorain County Ironmen's Rey Carrion Jr.

“I’m just very happy to be here, and the people here have been great to me,” Roberto Clemente Jr. said, “I can feel the love they have for my father and the family. So I’m very grateful.”

But organizers said the triple-digit, hot temperatures and high humidity could have limited attendance. Roughly 350 people showed up for the special baseball night, said Rey Carrion, from Lorain’s economic, community development.

Attendees reiterated how much Roberto Clemente and his family have inspired them.

“That legacy (Roberto Jr.’s) dad left and his mom instilled in her children, through his charity, that was passed on to his children,” said Diane Soto-Dismuke from Mercy’s Women’s Health Center’s Amigas Breast Cancer Awareness Program, “Now, (Roberto Jr.) he’s so inspirational. He’s helping the needy, the uninsured, the youth. We want him to see that we’re doing the same thing here. That’s how you build community, with love.”

Roberto Jr. works with the Make a Wish Foundation, the American Heart Association, St. Jude’s Children’s Research Center, School for the Blind, Beating the Odds Foundation, Quarterbacks of Life, Juvenile Diabetes, American Kids Cancer Fund, the American Breast Cancer Foundation, and the Cristian Rivera Foundation.

In Puerto Rico, Roberto Jr. previously assisted in the operation of the Roberto Clemente Sports City. He also founded the Reviving Baseball in Inner-Cities (RBI) Program, aimed at helping at-risk youth in Puerto Rico.

Roberto Clemente Jr. said he’s happy people are still keeping his dad’s memory alive, just like he and his two brothers, Luis Roberto and Roberto Enrique, are striving to each day.

They are starting a Roberto Clemente legacy tour – a “museum on wheels” featuring interactive exhibits and videos on their father. The tour will begin with a few cities this September, but really takes off next spring in 2013, he said, adding they plan to visit Cleveland and Lorain. Look to future La Prensa editions for more information on when the tour will arrive locally.

Roberto Jr. beamed as he talked about qualities his father possessed that many people may not know.

“I think that a lot of people don’t realize that he was a very funny character and he was a fun guy,” Roberto Clemente Jr. said “He always had a game-face when he walked out the door ‘cause he always demanded respect. He said that if he’s always smiling that people would not take him seriously. But he was a funny guy.’”

He was also a healer, Clemente Jr. said.

“He was involved in a car accident and he learned how to work with his back,” Clemente Jr. said “He actually became a chiropractor himself. He healed a lot of people; I saw him with my own eyes at home and it’s something that we’re very proud of.”

He’s also proud of whom his father chose to marry, he said.

“I think that for me it’s the best thing that’s happened to us, to be able to have a father and a mother that really give to the people,” Clemente Jr. said.

Roberto Clemente (1934-1972), of Barrio San Antón, Carolina, Puerto Rico, died at 38 in a plane crash while attempting to deliver aid to earthquake victims in Nicaragua.

During his professional baseball career, he received 12 Gold Glove Awards, 4 National League batting titles, 12 All-Star Game selections, and 2 World Series Championships. Clemente, who began as a right fielder for the Pittsburgh Pirates, was the first Latin-American player elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame.

In a doubleheader face-off, the Richmond RiverRats defeated the Lorain County Ironmen in both games Friday night at the Pipe Yard. The Richmond RiverRats (18-16) beat the Lorain County Ironmen (9-25) by a 3-0 win in seven innings on Friday’s first game. The RiverRats again defeated the Ironmen 12-9 in the seventh inning in their second game, though they had been trailing behind by five in the sixth.

Ray Carrion and The Latin Jazz All-Stars played live before the game, and Melissa “Cha-Cha” Figueroa sang the U.S. National Anthem.

Luis Gómez receives award

Rey Carrion, president of the Lorain is Pro Baseball Booster Club, and Richard Romero, a member of the Ohio Commission on Hispanic/Latino Affairs, spearheaded the baseball tribute.

The Lorain is Pro Baseball Booster club created the Northeast Roberto Clemente Humanitarian Award.

Luis Gómez is the 2012, first recipient of the award for his own humanitarian efforts in the Latino community throughout Northeast Ohio for over 14 years. He said he found out he would be awarded just a few weeks before Friday’s tribute game.

Luis Gomez and Roberto Clemente Jr.

“It’s just such a great honor really,” Gómez said about receiving the award, “When you mention the great humanitarians of the world, you mention (Mahatma) Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Jr., you mention in that category, Roberto Clemente.”

Gómez continued “there’s always social injustice in the world. When he saw social injustice, not only for himself, but for Latinos, he decided to fight it. So for that we really honor Clemente – not only for the great player that he was but also because he was so humble, so honest and so dedicated to his community and his family.”

Gómez is the Latino liaison for the Congressional Staff of Congressman Dennis Kucinich; is currently the board president of the Hispanic UMADAOP (Urban Minority Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Outreach Program); and is a member of the Spanish-Language Advisory Board for the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections.

Gómez served as the Regional Director for Commonwealth of Puerto Rico office, and the Department of Puerto Rico Federal Affairs Administration Office in Cleveland, Ohio.

He is also a member of the Hispanic Alliance and advisory board member for the Greater Cleveland Drug Court. He served on the board or advisory committees for the following organizations: Catholic Charities Corporation, Puerto Rican Parade Festival and Spanish American Committee.

Rey Carrion said he was very excited to see the hard work pay off. The special tribute had been planned since the stadium was built back in 2007, he said.

“It’s always been our dream that eventually we could do an event to honor our legend, our hero Roberto Clemente,” Rey Carrion said “we’re such a large Hispanic population here in Lorain County – we thought it was fitting.”

He added: Roberto Clemente “gave of himself so much until his death. He died doing what he was passionate about which was helping the people.”

Growing up in Puerto Rico, Rey Carrion lived in the same neighborhood as the Clementes. He had not seen Roberto Clemente Jr. in 32 years, he said.

“For me it was a special moment,” he said “to see him again, and to talk to him, and to reminisce about our childhood – it was great for me on a personal level.”

Another Roberto Clemente fan is Richard Romero.

“We lost a great person but the other way to look at it is that he inspired so many people to give,” Romero said “Don't get comfortable with the fact that you're doing well. After you’ve made it, reach back and help others that need help.”

See La Prensa’s Video/Photo coverage online: http://www.youtube.com/user/LaPrensaWeekly

See Roberto Clemente Jr.'s website: http://robertoclementejr.com


Roberto Clemente Jr.

Rey Carrion and Pepe Rivera



Lorain County Ironmen

Richmond RiverRats



Amigas' Diane Soto-Dismuke and Sarah Soto.

Ray Carrion and the Latin Jazz All-Stars


Ray Carrion and the Latin Jazz All-Stars





Ray Carrion and the Latin Jazz All-Stars

Melissa “Cha-Cha” Figueroa and her son. She performed the U.S. National Anthem at the Roberto Clemente Night game at the Lorain Pipe Yard where the Lorain County Ironmen squared off with the Richmond RiverRats.







Copyright © 1989 to 2012 by [LaPrensa Publications Inc.]. All rights reserved.
Revised: 07/10/12 19:34:11 -0700.





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