Lessons go beyond baseball hangs on the wall in our office.
Roberto Clemente Jr. and Syracuse Chiefs host a clinic for Latino kids.
Roberto Clemente Jr., on the importance of mentoring city children: “You put some time
into it, you’ll see the difference. It’s not about the money; it’s about the time, to be able to
make them understand that you do care about our future and their future. If you can
actually take an hour – I mean just an hour a week, if that – as a community, you can
make a whole world of difference, there’s no doubt about that.”
By Sean Kirst
Syracuse, NY – Roberto Clemente Jr. learned by example. Within any community, he
insists, one quality is best capable of changing lives: Time.
He shared that simple message Wednesday in Syracuse, where he ran a baseball clinic for
about 20 Latino children brought to Alliance Bank Stadium by Rita Paniagua of the
Spanish Action League. Joined by several players from the Chiefs, Roberto Jr. was
supposed to spend an hour playing ball with the kids.
It turned out to be more like two hours, and even then he was in no hurry to quit.
“You put some time into it,” Roberto Jr. said of working with youth, “you’ll see the
His father, born in Puerto Rico, remains a legend in Spanish-speaking nations where
baseball is revered. Roberto Clemente, a great hitter with a cannon arm, was also a
humanitarian. In 1972, he climbed onto into a plane that was bringing emergency
supplies to Nicaragua after an earthquake.
The plane crashed. Clemente was killed.
His son, looking Wednesday at the faces of the children of the city, said he knows how it
feels to grow up without a father.
Roberto Jr. was in Syracuse both for the celebration of “Latino Night” by the Chiefs, and
to support “Roberto’s Kids” — a program founded by Steve Pindar, of Oneonta, that
provides “gently used” baseball equipment to children who need it, especially in Central
“To be next to (Clemente’s) son, on this field today, it means so much,” said Chiefs
catcher Gustavo Molina, who watched the children playing catch, then ran into the locker
room and returned with a tee. He set it up on the outfield grass, where boys and girls used
it to loft fly balls to Roberto Jr. and Chiefs outfielder Justin Maxwell.
Chiefs infielder Marcos Yepez said the elder Clemente represents a model for children in
any situation. “The most important thing to learn is to be humble, respect your parents
and to do well in school,” Yepez said.
For his part, Chiefs pitcher Horacio Ramirez cheerfully showed 7-year-old Chantal
Jacquez how to throw a baseball. Later, before Chantal left the ballpark, she offered a
perfect summary of the lesson:
“He taught me when you pitch, you don’t want to throw it very hard or very soft, but very