Reporting Dave Crawley
PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — We called him “The Great One,” and for good reason.
The most beloved Pittsburgh Pirate was an All-Star on the field and off.
Roberto Clemente died in a plane crash, on a mission of mercy to Nicaragua. But his legacy is preserved in the Roberto Clemente Museum at Engine House 25 in Lawrenceville.
“We give guided tours here,” says museum founder Duane Rieder. “So you have to call and set up an appointment.”
There’s an eerie connection between Engine House 25 and Roberto Clemente.
Rieder says he was speaking to an 82-year-old firefighter just recently when he discovered an amazing fact.
“The firemen vacated this building on New Year’s Eve of 1972, the night that Roberto Clemente died,” Rieder says.
The museum owner, who is also a photographer who owned many photos and mementos of Clemente, says Roberto’s widow, Vera Clemente, gave him the idea for a museum.
“In 2006, Vera asked us to host a Clemente family party here,” he said. “Vera’s words were, ‘Wow, it’s like a museum now.’”
A new book produced by the Clemente Family introduces the reader to photographs never before seen by the public.
Guests at a Thursday evening party for fund raisers will also see a new room dedicated to Pirates catcher Manny Sanguillen.
“We’re kind of just doing it because of Manny’s love and respect of Roberto,” Rieder says. “He almost died diving in the ocean for Roberto’s body when the plane crashed.”