Roberto Clemente Memories

“Beyond Baseball: The Life of Roberto Clemente” was a Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition. Museo de Arte de Puerto Rico with the Carimar Design and Research studio, and with the support of Smithsonian Latino Center, collaborated on creating this exhibit. It traveled across the United States from 2007 to 2012 and was on exhibit here at Orange County Regional History Museum (Downtown Orlando, Florida) from January to March of 2012.

Here is a list of the places visited:

  1. Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory, Louisville, Ky (10/20/07 to 2/24/08)
  2. Georgia Highlands College, Rome, Ga (3/15/08 to 5/11/08)
  3. National Civil Rights Museum, Memphis, Tn (6/5/08 to 7/27/08)
  4. Greene County Public Library, Xenia, Oh (8/16/08 to 10/12/08)
  5. Collier County Parks and Recreation, Naples, Fl (11/1/08 to 1/3/09)
  6. Hoard Historical Museum, Fort Atkinson, Wi (1/24/09 to 3/22/09)
  7. Austin Public Library, Austin, Mn (4/11/09 to 6/7/09)
  8. Broward County Library, Fort Lauderdale, Fl (6/27/09 to 8/23/09)
  9. Red Cloud Opera House at the Cather Center, Ne (9/12/09 to 12/6/09)
  10. Elmhurst Historical Museum, Elmhurst, Il (1/16/10 to 4/11/10)
  11. California University of Pennsylvania, California, Pa (5/1/10 to 8/29/10)
  12. Little League Museum, Williamsport, Pa (9/18/10 to 11/14/10)
  13. Chattanooga African American Museum, Tn (12/4/10 to 1/30/11)
  14. Challenger Space Center, Peoria, Az (2/19/11 to 4/17/11)
  15. El Museo Latino, Omaha, Ne (5/7/11 to 7/17/11)
  16. Warrren County Historical Society, Lebanon, Oh (8/27/11 to 10/16/11)
  17. Reginald F. Lewis Museum of African American History, Baltimore, Md (11/5/11 to 12/30/11)
  18. Orange County Regional History Museum, Orlando, Fl (1/21/12 to 3/18/12)
  19. Puerto Rican Arts Alliance, Chicago, Il (4/7/2012 to 6/3/2012)

Items on exhibit have been archived at Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service (SITES) in Washington DC. I visited the exhibit on the day of the screening of the film “Roberto Clemente: A Touch of Royalty”. This documentary follows the triumphant & tragic end of Roberto Clemente’s life. Donald Fedynak (Writer and Director) was on hand to discuss the making of the film. It was a great conversation that gave everyone in the room insight on those first days after the crash. In this rare film, there is a scene of people that have gathered along the shores of Puerto Rico near the known accident looking in the distance for hope. “Solo Dios hace al hombre feliz,” sang the crowd. “Man is happy but by the Grace of God,” the English translation. The recurring theme of the film is the contrast between the life of a happy man and the pain of a grieving community.

My Family moved from Puerto Rico to Chicago, Illinois in the fall of 1973; nine months after his death. Sometimes, while watching the Chicago Cubs games on WGN Television, they would play this film during rain delays. I would always shed a tear. From an early age, I discovered that there was something, greater than ourselves, to live for. All that is left are faded images of him in his road greys, playing the Chicago Cubs, walking up to bat with the brick wall behind home plate of Wrigley Field. Those were the wonder years. “Roberto Clemente: A Touch of Royalty” captures that moment for future generations to know him.

This past August 18th would’ve been his 86th Birthday. 48 years later, the world celebrates his life while still feeling that loss. His legacy is synonymous with taking humanitarian action in a time of need and with the value of service to others.

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