PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Every year the Pittsburgh Pirates honor the memory of Roberto Clemente by going into the community and there they share generously and give back.
Today, players, coaches, broadcasters, and front office personnel made several stops around town, including a visit to the Clemente Museum in the Strip District. There they had a chance to meet some very special guests.
One by one, the Pirates players stood and introduced themselves to an excited group of fifth-graders from Arsenal Elementary School.
Among the players in attendance were rookie sensation Bryan Reynolds, Colin Moran, Cole Tucker, Steven Brault, and slugger Josh Bell.
Kevin Newman, Adam Frazier, and Puerto Rican Yacksel Rios, who is from Clemente’s home town of Carolina, were also with the group that also included nearly a dozen of the players’ wives and girlfriends.
The students were given a tour of the museum to learn about Clemente and not just the baseball player. The Hall of Fame outfielder was one of the greatest players in team history, but the tour guides and players wanted the kids to learn about his unwavering dedication to serving others.
A day after the arrest and incarceration of All-Star closer Felipe Vazquez, focusing on Clemente couldn’t have come at a better time for the Pirates franchise or for its players.
“He teaches us every day how we should act as men and individuals,” said President Frank Coonelly. “Clemente knew that what we do off the field is far more important than what we do on the field.”
The kids at the museum were from two fifth grade classes at Arsenal Elementary. The players were amazed to learn that the kids in the school come from all around the world.
“They got up and told us where they were from and it was crazy that they were from everywhere,” said Bryan Reynolds. “It kind of wraps all together with Clemente giving back to everyone.”
Fittingly, one of the teachers is from Clemente’s home of Puerto Rico.
Eunice Zea was wearing a Pirates t-shirt with Clemente’s name and number 21 on the back. She also had on a pair of black shoes with the word Pirates emblazoned in gold. She knows first-hand what an impact Clemente’s life still has on the people of her country.
“To this day, people remember him,” she said. “It reminded us that we need to be like him and help others every time we go out.”
Pirate slugger Josh Bell says he has learned a lot about the life of Clemente since he was drafted by the Pirates coming out of high school. The switch-hitting Texan says his mom always loved Clemente.
“She always said she used to sit in front of the television to watch him play growing up,” he recalled. “So it was cool to have that connection. My mom was like ‘You are going to the Pirates. It is going to be great.’”
Bell had a chance to give back to Clemente’s memory. He donated $12,000 to the Clemente Museum, money raised by Pirates Charities by auctioning off his number 55 jersey.
None of the players on the Pirates were alive when Clemente died in a plane crash trying to take supplies to earthquake victims in Nicaragua. Even some of the coaches aren’t old enough to have played with or against Clemente. Pitching coach Ray Searage made his Major League debut with Atlanta nearly a decade after the Great One’s death. He strives to be certain that the next generation of Pirates and Pirate fans know all about the greatness of number 21.
“Hopefully we can do the best job we possibly can,” said Searage. “Of course we will never be able to replace the man, but if we can carry on his legacy that is tremendous.”