Bob Clemente? Roberto Clemente Walker!

3000 hits

Bob ClementeOne of those arcane pieces of information is about the great baseball player Roberto Clemente. I was talking about one of my choir buddies, coincidentally named Rob, about the fact that the press tried to rename him. But he would have nothing to do with it.

As it turns out, the ENCYCLOPÆDIA BRITANNICA had the story:

“While Clemente amassed a mountain of impressive statistics during his career, he was often mocked by the print media in the United States for his heavy Spanish accent. Clemente was also subjected to the double discrimination of being a foreigner and being black in a racially segregated society. Although the media tried to call him ‘Bob’ or ‘Bobby’ and many of his baseball cards use ‘Bob,’ Clemente explicitly rejected those nicknames, stating in no uncertain terms that his name was Roberto.”

Almost immediately, Rob found this card online. It’s from 1958. But even Roberto’s 1969 Topps baseball card listed him as Bob Clemente.

Fix that plaque!

“There was also confusion over the correct form of his surname. For 27 years the plaque at the National Baseball Hall of Fame read ‘Roberto Walker Clemente,’ mistakenly placing his mother’s maiden name before his father’s surname. Only in 2000 was it changed to its proper Latin American form, Roberto Clemente Walker.”

Roberto Clemente was a great ballplayer. He won four NL batting titles, 12 straight Gold Gloves in the outfield, and made the All-Star team 15 times. The man got exactly 3000 hits. “He inspired generations of Latino kids, particularly in Puerto Rico, to dream that they could make it in the big leagues one day.”

But he also was a great human being. I wrote about him several times, the first being Talk Like a Pirate Day in 2006. I noted this quote: “Any time you have an opportunity to make a difference in this world and you don’t, then you are wasting your time on Earth.” I mentioned him most recently in 2018.

From his Hall of Fame page: “On Dec. 31, 1972, Clemente boarded a small plane en route from Puerto Rico to Nicaragua to assist with earthquake relief. The heavily loaded plane crashed just off the Puerto Rican coast, and Clemente’s body was never recovered.

“He was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1973 in a special election that waived the mandatory five-year waiting period.”

There is no point to Talk Like A Pirate Day. Which is the point.

Roberto Clemente, the Pittsburgh Pirates Hall of Famer, would have been 80 last month.

pirates.Twain

I created one of these Talk Like A Pirate Day posts some years back and got criticism from someone who thought pirates were terrible, awful. I’m thinking that it was around the time the pirates around Somalia were so prominent. My response, naturally, was, arrrgh.

Even the official site knows this:

Pirates were and are bad people. Really reprehensible. Even the most casual exploration of the history of pirates (and believe us, casual is an accurate description of our research) leaves you hip deep in blood and barbarity. We recognize this, all right? We aren’t for one minute suggesting that real, honest-to-God pirates were in any way, shape or form worth emulating.

So what is it exactly that we’re celebrating here, if not pirates? What, you’re wondering, is the point?

We’re going to be painfully honest here, perhaps fatally so.

The point is, there is no point.

And that’s what’s fun about Talk Like a Pirate Day specifically, and talking like a pirate in general.

We’re talking about the mere image of swaggering pirateness.


The Treasure of Bedford County.
“Pirate logic … goes down the following path: If you steal a lot of gold, you can’t use all of it right away, because that will provoke the suspicion of others. Assuming that there are banks or other such financial institutions one your area of the world and your era, you can hide some there, maybe, but you run the same risk of discovery. You can’t keep the gold in your home because (a) you may not have a home, being a seafarer and (b) your house would probably be an obvious place for a would-be thief to look. (Check the flour.) And it’s not like you can rely on the local authorities to protect your loot from others, bribes aside, because you stole the loot in the first place. The solution, of course, is to bury the treasure, draw a map, and mark the treasure’s location with an ‘X.'”

The Lorain County Correctional Institution shows pirated movies to prisoners, even as inmates serve time for illegally downloading movies.
“How do you expect someone to be rehabilitated when there are authority figures that are running those institutions that are copyright infringing?”

Most people don’t stop to think that when they grab that “free” book they’re stealing from the creator of the book. “After all, it’s just one little book, right? All those one little books add up, though, and this [45-cent check] is the result of it. So, for the titles I spent a couple of hundred dollars promoting and bringing to my readers, I have earned the grand total of less than $50.”

What do Steve Jobs, George W. Bush, Martha Stewart, the Eiffel Tower, Pluto, and the entire Dark Ages have in common with the Roman Empire, Somali pirates, Three Mile Island, and the survivors of the Holocaust?
“All have been sued by Jonathan Lee Riches.”

The closing scene and end credits suite from Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End.

The Lost Home Run.
“On October 13, 1960, the Pittsburgh Pirates and the New York Yankees were tied in the bottom of the 9th inning in the seventh (and, necessarily, final) game of the World Series.” Bing Crosby figures prominently into the story.

“No No: A Dockumentary” chronicles the amazing life of Dock Ellis, a pitcher for the Pittsburgh Pirates who in 1970 pitched a no-hitter while tripping on LSD.

The enduring mystery of Roberto Clemente’s bat. The Pirates Hall of Famer would have been 80 last month.

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