Brewers Visit Roberto Clemente Museum
Early this morning, I had the pleasure of touring the Roberto Clemente Museum with a group from the Brewers that included Brewers catcher Martin Maldonado, outfielder Ramon Flores, infielder Yadiel Rivera, Brewers Bullpen Coach Lee Tunnell and Third Base Coach Ed Sedar, along with a few other staff members.
The tour was arranged by Maldonado, who has visited many times before and knows the Executive Director and Curator, Duane Rieder, personally.
A native of Puerto Rico (like Maldonado and Rivera), Roberto Clemente was drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1954 and spent his entire 18-year career with the Club. During that time, he rose to become one of the greatest baseball players of his time, a 15-time MLB All-Star, Hall of Famer and recipient of every possible award given in Major League Baseball.
Off the field, Clemente built a reputation as a humanitarian. He died in a plane crash on New Year’s Eve in 1972 while delivering supplies to earthquake victims in Nicaragua, and he is remembered as much for his giving spirit off the field as his Hall of Fame career.
His legacy lives on at the Clemente Museum.
The Clemente Museum is housed in historic Engine House 25, located in the revitalized Lawrenceville section of Pittsburgh. Rieder has meticulously renovated Engine House 25 to showcase the world’s largest exhibited collection of baseball artifacts, works of art, literature, photographs, memorabilia, and related materials which focus on Roberto Clemente, his teammates, his personal life, and his humanitarian causes. The museum has a relationship with the Clemente family through archiving and preserving the family’s history.
As a small non-profit with limited resources, the museum is open by appointment for guided tours only, which means that our group had the place to ourselves this morning and had the privilege of hearing many remarkable stories behind the items from Rieder himself.
Whether it is the Gold Gloves, The Silver Slugger Award, The 1960 and ’71 World Series Rings, the cleats and home base from the ’71 series or the name of his wife, Vera, scratched into a vase Roberto made for her, visitors to the museum will leave knowing, more fully, what made Roberto Clemente a great man.
When I found out we were going to be touring the Clemente Museum I had no idea we would also be visiting a winery. Yes, that’s right, Engine House 25 also houses an operational winery and wine cellar, featuring Roberto Clemente Wines, among others.
A portion of the proceeds from the wine supports ongoing efforts to share the legacy of Roberto Clemente, and directly benefits Clemente’s wife, Vera, who even has her own limited edition rare label.
Amazing! Again, such a truly magnificient and unique place. I certainly had no idea what I was in store for me when I got up this morning.
Because Clemente’s storied name is synonymous with moral excellence, compassion and charitable work, each year, Roberto Clemente Day is celebrated around the baseball world to honor Clemente’s legacy and to officially recognize local Club nominees of the Roberto Clemente Award presented by Chevrolet, which recognizes a Major League Baseball player who best represents the game of baseball through positive contributions on and off the field, including sportsmanship and community involvement.
This year is the 15th annual observance of Roberto Clemente Day and MLB will be honoring Clemente’s legacy with games in Puerto Rico. The Marlins and the Pirates will play a two-game series in San Juan’s Hiram Bithorn Stadium on May 30-31. May 31 will be Roberto Clemente Day throughout Major League Baseball, giving the Pirates a chance to observe the occasion in Clemente’s home country.
A huge thanks to Rieder for a phenomenal tour. Rarely do you meet someone like him, whose passion and enthusiasm for what he does is so infectious.
I highly encourage all baseball fans to pay a visit to Pittsburgh and seek out the Clemente Museum–but remember, it’s by appointment only!