For many years our Latino Sports Clubhouse store on 143rd and the Grand Concourse commemorated an event we called the 21 days of Clemente. Our concept was that Clemente went around throughout Puerto Rico during the Christmas season in 1972 conducting baseball clinics for little leagues to raise money to help Nicaragua that had been through a devastating earthquake which destroyed much of the capital, Managua and the major hospitals in the area.
Then on New Year’s Eve, Roberto Clemente boarded an oversize plane load of medical supplies and other items on this, the third and last plane delivering supplies to Nicaragua. The previous two plane loads that he and his volunteers had sent with supplies never left the airport. The reason, the Nicaraguan dictator Anastasio Somoza and his son, Junior who was in charge of the shipments being delivered to the airport were not allowing items to leave so that they can plunder and make additional profits selling the items themselves. Clemente was told of this problem and his volunteers in Managua pleaded with his to come to Managua and that perhaps because of his known fame the Somosa’s would allow the items to leave the airport.
Unfortunately, that never occurred as his overloaded plane crashed off the coast of San Juan just minutes after takeoff.
So back to our 21 Days of Clemente. This was our way of honoring the Great One by reminding everyone that during the Christmas period we can take time out of our hectic and busy schedule to help others. We started our 21 Days of Clemente on December 10th until the 31st, the day the plane crashed. We involved local schools to conduct a class on Roberto Clemente’s humanitarian act and let the students express themselves with anything they wanted to on Clemente. Some students wrote a paragraph or two on Clemente. Others drew a picture, others cut out his pictures and wrote comments for each picture. Whatever they did we collected and exhibited the pieces at a public location for others to appreciate.
In addition, we held three forums for the adults at the store, or at a local restaurant to talk about Roberto Clemente. Most of the times we invited a person to speak to us who had a story to tell about Clemente. We invited the world’s largest Roberto Clemente collector, Mr. Paul Kutch. We invited Omar Minaya then the GM for the NY Mets, we invited Paul Dorsey, son of Dorsey Sr. who was Clemente’s best friend in Pittsburge, and we invited, David Maraniss author of the bestselling book on Clemente, Roberto Clemente The Passion & Grace of Baseball’s Last Hero Pittsburgh Pirates.
Due to Covid we have not had a 21 Days of Clemente in the last two years. However, we are committed to commemorating Roberto Clemente during this Holiday Season and as such will be gave deep discounts on the products listed below.
For more products on Clemente visit my Julio Pabón Marketplace Facebook page. Or Ebay.
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