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.