BRONX, NY — As we continue to commemorate Roberto Clemente with our 21 Days of Clemente, we decided that we wanted to give our readers a better perspective on this great baseball player and humanitarian. We agreed that perhaps if we share some of the many quotes from Clemente, we would all get a better understanding of how Clemente thought and how he saw the world. How he saw the game and community during his time. There are hundreds of quotes from the many presentations and interviews he gave. We have researched and picked a few that we believe would give us a slight understanding of a man that very few still understand today.
“I was mad last year. I played as well as anyone else on our team and I didn’t receive one vote for MVP. Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t say I was the best last year or that I should have won the MVP award. But nobody seemed to care about me. But you win the batting title yourself. They can’t take that away from you.”
“When I put on my uniform, I feel I am the proudest man on earth. The players should pay the people to come and see us play. If we have respect for our fathers and we have respect for our children, we will have a better life. I watched on TV when America sent men to the moon, and there were a lot of people whose names weren’t given who helped make it possible. You don’t have the names of those who run the computers and other things. But they work together, and this is what you have to have, Chinese, American, Jewish, black and white people working side by side. This is what you have to do to make this a better life when you can give opportunities to everybody, and we don’t have to wait to die to get to heaven we are going to have heaven on earth.”
“Yes, there is some truth to the accusation that I resented being bypassed for Groat in 1960. He had a good season, but the records will show I contributed a lot more to winning the pennant. I also think that a lot of the writers were moved by their racial feelings. And MVP endorsement looks good in the record of a potential manager, and it’ll be a long time before we have a colored manager. Longer still before there will be a colored Puerto Rican manager. Anyway, it wasn’t my imagination hurting me when I complained, it really was my neck. And the doctors say the wrenching of my neck was caused by some unconscious adjustment I had been trying to make because of my back.”
“The Latin American player doesn’t get the recognition he deserves. Neither does the Negro player, unless he does something spectacular, like Willie Mays. We have self-satisfaction, yes but after the season is over nobody cares about us. Zoilo Versalles was the most valuable player in the American league, but how many times has he been asked to make appearances at dinners or meetings during the winter? Juan Marichal is one of the greatest pitchers in the game, but does he get invited to banquets? I am an American citizen, but some people act like they think I live in the jungle someplace, this is a matter of sports of a man’s ability and his accomplishments what matters what language he speaks best?”
“I tell you I’ll be lucky to hit .280 in New York. There are too many people in New York, and if you don’t want to be a bad guy, you must go to all the dinners and meetings. How could I concentrate on baseball? I have so many good friends in New York that it is hard to turn them down. But it is that way every place on the road. I tell the hotel that I will not be disturbed, but people find me anyway.”
“I learned the right way to live from my parents. I never heard any hate in my house. I never heard my father say a mean word to my mother, or my mother to my father either. During the war when food was hard to get my parents fed their children first and they ate what was left. They always thought of us.”
“They call my people quote “Spics” in New York. These are poor people struggling to make a living and should be treated like people and not animals.”
“I carried this rubber ball with me all the time. I squeezed this to strengthen my fingers and wrist and my friends would walk to and from school throwing the rubber ball back and forth. Many times, at night, I laid in the bed and threw the ball against the ceiling and caught it. Baseball was my whole life. I would forget to eat because of baseball. One time my mother wanted to punish me. She started to burn my bat, but I got it out of the fire and saved it. Many times, today she tells me how wrong she was and how right I was wanting to play baseball. I bought my parents their home in Puerto Rico and gave them possessions they never thought they’d ever see. All from baseball.”
“Anytime you have an opportunity to make a difference in this world and you don’t, then you are wasting your time on earth.”
We invite any of our readers to feel free to comment or contribute anything on Roberto Clemente that you would like to share.
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