Roberto Clemente, Jr.
Roberto Clemente, Jr., or in the Spanish naming system Roberto Clemente Zabala (born August 17, 1965), is a baseball broadcaster and former professional baseball player from San Juan, Puerto Rico. He was born in the Santurce barrio. His father, Roberto Clemente, was the first Latin American player to compile 3,000 hits in Major League Baseball history. His mother, Vera Clemente, is a celebrity as well, having for many years hosted a telethon in Puerto Rico in order to raise funds for the Ciudad Roberto Clemente, a sporting complex located in Carolina, Puerto Rico.
Despite playing for the Pittsburgh Pirates and being established for a number of years in Pittsburgh, Roberto Clemente insisted that Vera Clemente return to Puerto Rico so Roberto Jr. could be born there a day before his own birthday.
The first seven years of Roberto Jr.'s life were spent between Puerto Rico and Pittsburgh. His father died in a plane crash on December 31, 1972, while taking relief supplies to Nicaragua earthquake victims. Due to the fact that his father died at a young age, Roberto Jr. became the spokesperson for the family when his Mother Vera could not attend.
Roberto Jr. was perhaps one of the youngest speakers in the history of Congress when he spoke about his father's dream of a Sports City, a place young and old would have to instruct them in sports, but more importantly, spend quality time with family and become involved citizens.
In 1976 Roberto became the first Latin amateur player in history of his class to win a Batting Title while hitting .636 in a World Series.
In 1978 he was chosen to carry the torch and light the Pavilion for the Pan Am Games. Roberto Jr. excelled in sports at the junior high and high school levels, being captain of a volleyball team and participating in track and field and basketball where he was offered a spot on the Professional team.
Clemente Jr. moved to Bradenton, Florida after graduating high school, to attend a community college. In 1984, he was spotted by a Philadelphia Phillies scout, and signed by the organization, joining their division-A team in 1985, the same year in which he made his debut in the Puerto Rican winter baseball league, with the Arecibo Wolves.
A series of injuries prevented Clemente Jr. from making it to the major leagues. After playing two seasons with the Phillies, Clemente Jr. joined the San Diego Padres after Sandy Alomar Sr. worked it out with the organization in 1986. Clemente Jr. had a knee injury during spring training and was not able to make the team. Clemente Jr. insisted on making the major leagues and after 3 knee surgeries in three years he traveled to Venezuela, where the first pitch he saw since 1986 in professional competition Homered and from there on he became a well known player in that country. After signing a Triple A contract with Baltimore Orioles before the 1989 season, he suffered a career-ending injury to his back and was paralyzed for a week and had to retire from professional baseball.
Clemente Jr. returned to Puerto Rico and helped his mother make his father's dream a reality the Roberto Clemente Sports City. In 1992, he brought the RBI Baseball program to Puerto Rico, where he won the first RBI World Series and has won 10 championships since.
Clemente Jr. decided to move to Pittsburgh to establish the Roberto Clemente Foundation in 1993 to help bring to the children of this city the RBI program when found out they had no program. which made him president of two baseball oriented organizations at the same time. When Kevin McClatchy became the Pirates' new owner in 1995, the major league team embraced both of Clemente Jr.'s organization, promoting them in different ways.
In 1997, Roberto Clemente Jr. accepted an offer to broadcast New York Yankees games, both on television and radio, becoming a Spanish-language announcer for the Yankees on MSG Network, Telemundo and WADO. WADO inaugurated a weekly talk show with Clemente Jr. as show host in 1997. By 1998 Roberto was splitting the duties as Play by Play for the New York Yankees and earned three World Series rings with the 1998, 1999 and 2000 teams.
In 1998 Clemente added more by joining ESPN Deportes as a sideline reporter for the post season and he became part of the Family for another seven years as a color commentator.
In 2001, Clemente Jr. hosted the Spanish version of MLB's network television show, Baseball Max.
By 2002, Clemente Jr. was conducting game interviews for ESPN Deportes Radio. He gradually worked his way into becoming a game announcer on ESPN's Spanish television network. He became the voice of the NY Yankees for the great run from 98 to 2000 in the World Series.
Also in 2002, Clemente Jr. was named honorary chairman for the baseball assistance team annual fundraising dinner. He is also known for his work with the American Diabetes Association.
In 2004 Clemente Jr. decided to finish his father's fatal trip with supplies. He joined forces with Project Club Clemente's President Eliezer Rodriguez, but the tsunami in southeast Asia forced them to reschedule after Clemente decided to send the aid to where it was needed.
In 2005, Clemente Jr. hosted a Saturday afternoon show on WFAN in New York City called The Latin Beat. This was his first English-language radio job, as he also became the first Latino host in the history of the station. In 2013 Roberto became a member of the board for The National Hispanic Health Foundation because of his work in the forefront of new Brain Technology. He is currently the Ambassador for RC21X.
- Bernstein, Ralph (1984-03-15). "Clemente wants to make own name". Gettysburg Times. Associated Press. Retrieved 2010-08-12.
- Coffey, Wayne (2005-04-10). "The Son Also Rises. Roberto Clemente Jr. talks about his trainer, new WFAN show & life without his father". New York Daily News. Retrieved 2010-08-12.
- "Roberto Clemente (minors)". Baseball-Reference. Retrieved 2010-08-12.
- "Young Clemente says he's giving up baseball". The Times-News. Associated Press. 1986-06-03. Retrieved 2010-08-12.
- Smith, Claire (1994-01-10). "Baseball; Clemente's Oldest Son the Keeper of the Flame". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-08-12.
- Reisler, Jim (1998-07-19). "Clemente Baseball Tradition Carried On From Broadcast Booth". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-08-12.
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