SOUTH BRONX, NY – For ten years between 2000 and 2010 Latino Sports had a brick-and-mortar apparel and sports collectible store called the LATINO SPORTS CLUBHOUSE. It was located on 143rd Street and the Grand Concourse in the South Bronx. In those ten years we also had a special community event which we commemorated the life and times of Roberto Clemente for 21 days during the month of December and called it 21 Days of Clemente.
For those 21 days in December the South Bronx commemorated Clemente in a major way involving schools, businesses, and elected officials. One major component was inviting students of all grades and ages to contribute anything on Roberto Clemente. An essay, composition, poem, song, drawing, or something as simple as cutting out a picture of Clemente and pasting it on a piece of paper with any comment.
Every student that contributed something was entitled to receiving two tickets to a Yankee, or a NY Mets game, or invited to a pizza party. Every physical item contributed was displayed at our store windows, the Bronx Borough Presidents office, at the Roberto Clemente State Park, or the local Applebee’s restaurant.
Another highlight was that every Monday of those 21 days we would invite a speaker to present on Roberto Clemente. Some of our speakers were, Roberto Clemente Jr.; Paul Kutch considered one of the greatest Roberto Clemente collectors; Omar Minaya, the then NY Mets General Manager; Pulitzer Prize winning author, David Maraniss who wrote the book, Clemente: The Passion and Grace of Baseball’s Last Hero, and who many consider one of the best books on Roberto Clemente to name a few.
We were forced to close the store due to the early gentrification beginning to creep into the South Bronx shortly after 2010 and we no longer were able to continue with the 21 Days of Clemente. However, this year we decided to honor the great Roberto Clemente as we once did to remind everyone that as we approach our Christmas Holiday period and we are all engulfed in the spirit of family and giving, Roberto Clemente back in 1972 was traveling to many towns in Puerto Rico conducting clinics and raising money and resources to send to Nicaragua who had suffered a devastating earthquake.
We can never forget that on December 31, 1972, when everyone was ready to celebrate the end of the year and bring in the new one, Roberto Clemente was boarding a plane, the last of the three plane loads of relief supplies he had been sending to Nicaragua. He sacrificed time with his family to personally take this last load of supplies to Nicaragua because the previous supplies were not being distributed to the people of Nicaragua. The supplies and equipment sent were being held at the airport by the corrupt family and officials of the President of Nicaragua, Anastacio Somoza.
Unfortunately, that decision to personally go to Nicaragua to assure that the supplies would be released from the airport would cost Roberto Clemente and the volunteers that went with him their lives as the overloaded plane that had mechanical issues just days before should have never been certified to fly. The plane crashed immediately upon taking off from San Juan International airport. Killing everyone on board.
This Christmas Holiday season we decided to commemorate the 21 Days of Clemente once again by publishing articles, or anything submitted to highlight the life and times of Clemente. Starting today, December 11th through December 31st we invite our readers to visit and experience something of the Great One, Roberto Clemente.
We also invite any of our readers to feel free to comment or contribute anything on Roberto Clemente that you would like share.
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