Bucs in Puerto Rico: It will be magic

I’ll tell you what is great about the Pirates and Marlins getting ready to play  a pair of games next May in Puerto Rico.

No, not that the fact it will happen the season after I will have left the Bucs beat; thanks for the timing, MLB, it’s not like I would’ve dug covering regular-season games on my idol Roberto Clemente’s turf.

But the high profile of the occasion will raise Puerto Rican awareness of both baseball and, yes, Clemente. Last week, I credited the Carlos Correa- Francisco Lindor showdown for the A.L. Rookie of the Year Award with injecting new life into baseball on the island.

This will do a lot more for that. And it’s important, both for reviving in a onetime lush source of prospects that has generally dried up, and to introduce new generations of Puerto Ricans to Clemente.

Based on my experiences, The Great One now is better known on the mainland, thanks to the Roberto Clemente Award and to Commissioner Bud Selig’s declaration of an annual Roberto Clemente Day in 2002, than in his homeland.

I spent the 2014 All-Star Game break vacationing in Puerto Rico, smack in the middle of Carolina, Clemente’s birthplace. Naturally, I was interested in landmarks, or museums or just relevant souvenir shops, but every man-on-the-street mention of Clemente returned a “Who?”

It wasn’t an intentional survey. And I may be exaggerating the cluelessness. But I definitely came away with the impression, “Hey, these guys needs a refresher course on Clemente.”

Fish v Bucs in his ‘hood should do it.

.

3 Comments

Hi Tom. Happy Thanksgiving!
What?! You’re moving on from the Bucs beat?? What a bummer…. where will you be next?!
Your comments re the Great One in PR are true. Living in Orlando, with 700,000 Puerto Rican transplants, I have quite a few of them as friends and acquaintances. Every time I mention him with reverence and love. I tell them how I would listen to him play on a transistor radio hidden under my pillow in the late ’50’s and ’60’s (my Mom would’a spanked my butt if I got caught)! I tell them how I argued to get #21 on the team every year, played right field, and tried my best to mimic him on both sides of the ball.
I tell them how I was home from the University of Pittsburgh for the holidays, and will never forget my Mom sitting on the edge of my bed, waking me up on 1/1/73.
She said “Jimmy, I have some bad news for you, Roberto is gone. Although a college student, I cried all day. It still brings tears to my eyes.
I tell them I have every one of his baseball cards in my jewelry box.
You are right. Most of the time I get a deer-in-the-headlights type of response from these people. I the games on 5/30-31 there will create the resurrection you predict.
Best of luck to you going forward. You are also one of the great ones….

Jim, I got a “bad news” story of my own: I got engaged, big party, the night of Dec. 31, 1972. The news hit me so hard, the wife-to-be got scared that I had a split personality, almost called the whole thing off. Fortunately, “almost.” Anniversary No. 43 coming up.

Tom- Completely understand… glad it worked out!
It was so cool to cross your path at the WC game! What were the chances?!
The Best of the Holidays to you!
Please let me know where you lite…
A Fan Forever! JC

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