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September 03, 2008   |   By: Dayne Myers   |   Posted in: CEO Posts, Diamond Mind, Eras, Industry News

Thanks for the memories, Great One!

I found out that today is “Robert Clemente Day” as players from around the league were nominated for the Clemente Award.  I don’t know whrc_day_256o made that happen, but it brought a warm smile to my face.

For those of you who have played our games, you undoubtedly know that Roberto was a hero of mine.  In fact, I’d say he was my first hero.  I started becoming a baseball fan as an 8-year-old in 1970.  Growing up about an hour from Pittsburgh (in Salem, Ohio), I gravitated towards the Pirates (but also had a soft spot for the Indians, despite their woeful condition at the time).  Clemente’s great play, especially on defense, made me a fan.  

The 1971 season was the first I followed daily as a kid, and it was surely magical.  I remember that first night game of a World Series, played at the new Three Rivers Stadium.  Given that it would go way past my 8pm bedtime, I remember pleading with my mother to stay up and watch the game.  She only relented if I promised to take a nap after school to make up for the lost sleep, a deal to which I readily agreed (my first trade!!!)   grin

Clemente’s performance in the World Series cemented his image of greatness in my mind as well as the baseball world.  During the ’72 season, I followed his exploits daily as he approached 3000 hits and was listening on the radio when he did it.  I also got to go to my first big league ballgame that year – a June game against the Padres.  I remember that game so clearly – my dad got us seats down the right field line so I could see Clemente close up.  I brought my ball glove, of course, with the hopes of catching a ball… my father had told me that Clemente tossed warm-up balls into the stands.  So, as Clemente did warm-up tosses, I had my glove clemente_exhibit_500on, ready to spring into action!  Only one of his tosses came near me – and went for it, only to have some big adult shove me aside and grab the ball.  He celebrated while I looked up with sad eyes.  I’m sure he’s on death row in some prison somewhere!

Alas, I also remember that the Pirates got shut out that day.  And, thanks to Retrosheet.com, I was even able to dig up the box score.  How cool is it to be able to dig up box scores of games  you saw as a kid!!??

So,“The Great One” went 0 for 4 that day.  Oh, well.

A few months later, I suffered my first “sports trauma” as the Pirates blew the lead of game 5 of the NLCS (remember when it was only 5 games?) and then lose on Bob Moose’s infamous wild pitch.  But that was nothing compared to the trauma a few months after that.  As I watched TV on New Year’s morning, the station interrupted with a news bulletin about the plane crash that took Clemente’s life. 

I wailed.  My mother came running in from the kitchen to see what was wrong.  When I told her threw my tears, she replied, “Oh, just some baseball player?  You scared me to death!”

“SOME BASEBALL PLAYER????” 

She made my crying all the louder!  grin

Yep, he was some baseball player… 4 batting titles, 3000 hits, Gold Gloves galore, and that famous arm… plus 2 World Series rings.  It's all captured here on Baseball-Reference and chronicled here.

I’ve also had the pleasure of having Roberto on some of my teams at Imagine Sports, especially Pirates theme teams. 

Thanks for the memories, Great One, and for being my first hero!

- Dayne

 



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Posted by on 04/21 at 10:56 AM

Hey, cousin-I knew that you were lnivig in Brooklyn.  I just moved away from Manhattan after 8 years Too bad I never got in touch .Great blog.  Entertaining and I like the eclectic references (i.e. Gil Scott Heron).  In response to your recent post: I married a girl born in New Orleans and raised in Knoxville, TN, so, basically, according to my in-laws, Peyton (Eli, too, for that matter) is as close as you can get to a real-life superhero. I strongly suspect that the Patriots are going to go down in flames on Sunday.  Anyway, looks like you’re doing well, dude.  Give my best to your brothers, dad and everyone.  Might look you sometime when we’re back in the city. In the meantime, good luck with the writing. -Scott

Posted by on 10/11 at 07:33 PM