Tribute to Roberto Clemente Night

Jonathan Schwind talking with former Pirates catcher Manny Sanguillen on Tribute to Roberto Clemente Night at PNG Field (Photo: Trey Wilson/Altoona Curve)

By Trey Wilson

This weekend at PNG Field, we paid tribute to legendary Pittsburgh Pirates outfielder Roberto Clemente, a Hall of Famer as a player and one of the most influential players in baseball history away from the field. The Puerto Rico native opened doors for Latin American ballplayers in the Major Leagues. His commitment to honor and service touched people around the world, and his legacy carries weight today inside and out of baseball. Members of the Pittsburgh Pirates organization are instilled with these values from their early days in the minor leagues.

What does it mean to you to be a Pittsburgh Pirate?

Altoona manager Joey Cora signs for fans on Tribute to Roberto Clemente Night at PNG Field (Photo; Trey Wilson/Altoona Curve)

Joey Cora
Altoona Curve manager | Caguas, Puerto Rico
Not only for me, but for every Puerto Rican, Roberto Clemente is the number one not only sports figure, but personality in Puerto Rico because of what he was able to accomplish as a ballplayer, and more so as a citizen. He was a pioneer for all of the Latin Americans to play in the big leagues. The way he played, he was a Hall of Famer, but the way he contributed to the community, tried to help other people and tried to create a path for Latin American ballplayers, he made a statement and he was a trail blazer. All of the Puerto Ricans are proud of that fact. Not only how he helped Puerto Ricans, but Latin Americans in general.

You can still see the impact he had on everybody today. You can hear it from players like Carlos Correa, Francisco Lindor, the guys that are just getting to the big leagues. Correa and Lindor, they are superstars, and when they are asked about Roberto Clemente, they know who he is and they know the history behind him. Every ballplayer in Puerto Rico, and every Puerto Rican in general, they know about Roberto Clemente because he transcended this sport for us Puerto Ricans and for Latin Americans in general. It’s good to see that the kids that are playing now, they know who Roberto Clemente was. That means a lot for his family and that says a lot about who Roberto Clemente was and the legacy that he has left behind.

I think one of the things that attracted me to this organization when I was being recruited by them was the fact that they not only care about the players being good baseball players and the things they do on the field, but more so the things that they do off the field, trying to grow these players to be good people and good citizens. That’s a little different from organizations. This organization makes sure that the player not only grows as a baseball player but as a person.

Pirates catcher Chris Stewart with the Altoona Curve on Tribute to Roberto Clemente Night at PNG FIeld (Photo: Rob Lynn/Altoona Curve)

Chris Stewart
Pittsburgh Pirates catcher | Fontana, Calif.
I think the first thing that comes to mind is family. The organization treats everybody like they are their sons. They respect them, they guide them and they teach them the principles of what we believe in. I didn’t come through the organization in the minors, but as soon as I got here, I got that sense of family and sense of instilled values that they have created. I think that playing in Pittsburgh with the guys that have come up through the organization, it was easy for me to latch on to and they welcomed me right away. I felt like a part of that family from day one.

A lot of people remember the player, Roberto Clemente. A lot of people also remember the person that he was, how caring he was and how much he wanted to be involved, not just with the community around Pittsburgh, but the communities around the world. He died doing philanthropic work back down in Puerto Rico, trying to help people. It goes to show the type of person that he was. He instilled the values that he had and left a legacy for us to live by. Some of us, we try to live up to what he did. We can’t even come close. But the effort in trying to become like him is what makes the community so great. The Pirates do a great job with their charities. They do a tremendous job of giving back with the charities in the area. They do a tremendous job with the Miracle Leagues and fields. Seeing the kids’ faces, and them having a field to play where they can be themselves, it’s tremendous that the Pirates are able to help do that for them.

Altoona infielder Chris Diaz on Tribute to Roberto Clemente Night at PNG FIeld (Photo: Trey Wilson/Altoona Curve)

Chris Diaz
Altoona Curve infielder | Miami, Fla.
Roberto Clemente’s legacy will always hold with everybody here. Being a part of the community and giving back to everybody, he was one of the best. With the charity and community work that we do, it gives homage to what he represented and did. He will always hold an impact, especially growing up with a Hispanic background, I always talked about Roberto Clemente as a kid. Growing up, I always tried to wear number 21. Now, we all try to carry on that legacy and remember the things he did.

Altoona’s Tyler Eppler pitching on Tribute to Roberto Clemente Night at PNG Field (Photo: Rob Lynn/Altoona Curve)

Tyler Eppler
Altoona Curve pitcher | Navasota, Texas
Most professional organizations, it’s just a matter of coming out and playing baseball. Coming up in the Pirates’ farm system, we are taught the integrity of the game and integrity of being a good person. Whether that’s being a good teammate on the field, or going out and doing community service whenever it is asked of you or when it’s not asked of you. We aim to do our part and dedicating any part of our time that we can to helping others. That’s how the Pirates are and how we are raised up in their farm system. That’s how we are taught and how we go about our life. Away from the field, it helps you grow into being a better man and a better person, and I love that about the Pirates.

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