Clemente ¡Presente!

By , December 29, 2012 3:29 pm

On December 31st, a ceremony celebrating Roberto Clemente’s achievements — as a civil rights activist and as the first Puerto Rican inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame — will begin at the six-foot granite memorial for him in Colt Park. Mayor Segarra will be speaking at this event; from there, the ceremony will move to Charter Oak Landing where baseballs will be thrown into the Connecticut River.

The Hartford Roberto Clemente Committee says,”Clemente forced the Pirates [his team at the time] to postpone their 1968 season opener with the Astros on the day before Martin Luther King’s funeral. He organized his black and Puerto Rican teammates against eating meals on the team bus while white players ate in restaurants. He supported Athletics player Vic Power, also from Puerto Rico, when Power was arrested for buying a Coke from a whites-only gas station. [Clemente] died in [a] plane crash on December 31, 1972 while on a relief mission to Nicaragua, after hearing that the dictator Somoza was hoarding donations meant for earthquake victims.”

The celebration is scheduled to begin at noon on Monday to mark the 40th anniversary of Clemente‘s death.

3 Responses to “Clemente ¡Presente!”

  1. Pablo Delano says:

    Clemente was an extraordinary man, a hero and a role model not just to Puerto Ricans but to anyone concerned with social justice. And of course he was a great baseball player.

    I remember when his overloaded, Managua-bound plane went down and plunged into the sea just minutes after taking off from San Juan airport on New Year’s Eve 1972. The people of Puerto Rico were devastated.

    I have to wonder, though, why throwing baseballs into the river might be considered an appropriate way to honor his memory. Are the baseballs supposed to represent those who died in the plane crash? I hope not – that would seem to be in very poor taste. Something tells me Clemente would have preferred those baseballs to be given to kids who might actually play with them.

  2. steve thornton says:

    The tradition follows the annual ceremony in Bridgeport, founded by some who were his friends. Please feel free to join the planning committee for next year’s event. Among other things we hope to establish a modest scholarship for local youth.


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