Talking Baseball, Family and Roberto Clemente with 'The Pittsburgh Kid’ • Latino Sports


Talking Baseball, Family and Roberto Clemente with ‘The Pittsburgh Kid’


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NeilW15Pittsburgh, PA – Throughout baseball history, there have been some notable ballplayers whose fathers also wore Major League baseball uniforms.

Current Pirates’ second baseman, Neil Walker’s Dad, Tom was a right-handed pitcher who played seven seasons for numerous teams. But, in 1972, while playing winter ball, his destiny could have easily been altered if a singular, soft-spoken word was uttered inside an aircraft at the airport in San Juan.

What if this extraordinary humanitarian would have simply responded with a resounding, “Yes” to Tom Walker’s request?

Walker’s teammate, Roberto Clemente remarked, “Stay and enjoy the New Year”. Walker traveled back to his apartment and Clemente would never return to his beloved island in the Caribbean.

We all know the tragic story about an ill-fated flight that carried relief supplies to a Latin-American country that was devastated by an earthquake. It caused insurmountable damage and death that sadly included the passengers on an overloaded DC-7 plane that departed from Puerto Rico.

Tom Walker has never forgotten those sorrowful words and the unbelievable ballplayer who spoke them.

In 1985, Walker’s gifted son, Neil was born and destined to play on Clemente’s team, the Pittsburgh Pirates. On September 1, 2009, Neil made his major league debut against the Cincinnati Reds. Ironically, he would make his debut where Clemente played his final game in the 1972 NLCS playoffs.

And during his rookie season, Neil Walker knew that once the heartwarming moment arrived at PNC Park, he would slowly jog towards second base, face the right field wall which stands at 21 feet, close his eyes and quietly whisper, “Thank you, Roberto.”

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About Danny Torres

Bronx native, Danny Torres is a high school teacher, an avid baseball fan and freelance sports journalist. Besides his work with, he has written for, the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y, the N.Y. Mets, the Puerto Rico Daily Sun and Manhattan Times. He was a frequent guest on 'Solamente Pelota', a now-defunct sports program on XM/Sirius satellite radio. In 2010, he contributed to an updated prologue for the re-released book, 'Clemente, the Enduring Legacy' by Kal Wagenheim. In 2011, as part of a series commemorating Hispanic Heritage Month on, he contributed to a five-part series saluting the greatest Latino pitchers in baseball. Finally, in December, 2011, he participated in a panel discussion connected with the Smithsonian exhibition, 'Beyond Baseball, The Life of Roberto Clemente' in Baltimore, Maryland. In December, 2012, he appeared on the front page of 'El Diario/La Prensa', a NY Spanish daily newspaper and was featured in a five-part series dedicated to the legendary Puerto Rican baseball player, Roberto Clemente who tragically died 40 years ago.

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