Roberto Clemente became my hero when I first saw him play. His commitment to justice and community involvement expanded my understanding of athletes and heroes. Feliz cumpleaños, Roberto. Te recuerdo.
Treadmill. Gym at Germantown Mill Lofts.
Core work. Stretching. Gym in Tricia’s apartment.
Take Me out to the Ball Game – Jaqueline Schwab
The Star-Spangled Banner – Big League Orchestra
Roberto – Ismael Miranda
Sueño Se Un Niño – Tito Allen
Somos La Fuerza Latina – Andy Montañez & Ismael Miranda
Roberto Y Tirabala – Andy Montañez
Orgullo De Borinquen – Lefty Pérez
Clemente (Estrella 21) – Edel Borrero
Jugando La Pelota – Jesús “Chocolate” Coombs
Jardonero Del Amor – Wichi Camacho
Lo Mejor Que Dios Ha Hecho – Angel Ramírez
Te Recuerdo – John McCutcheon
Forever Young – Pete Seeger with the Rivertown Kids
Fifty-eight years ago, on October 13, 1960, my father, a music teacher in the Neville Island school district, took a day off and took me out of my first-grade class.
From Neville Island we journeyed to Forbes Field in Pittsburgh’s Oakland neighborhood.
There we watched the Pittsburgh Pirates take on the New York Yankees in Game 7 of that year’s World Series (an interesting name now, but even more so at that time when all the teams vying for the title were located in the United States).
The heavily favored Yankees had won 10 pennants in 12 years. They won three games in this series: 16-3, 10-0, and 12-0. The Pirates won the other three games by much closer scores: 6-4, 3-2, and 5-2.
Game 7 proved a classic. The Pirates took the lead. The Yankees came back and went ahead. The Pirates regained the lead in the bottom of the eighth inning. The Yankees tied it in the ninth.
Bill Mazeroski led off the bottom of the ninth inning for the Pirates. He took the first pitch for a ball. Then he drove the second pitch over the left-field wall. And the Pirates were the champions.
How much do I remember because I saw the game in person? How much do I remember because I have seen the pictures and the film and heard the stories? I will never know.
On the anniversary of the game, Pirates fans gather in Pittsburgh to relieve, remember, and recreate.
In 2009, a kinescope of the telecast was discovered in Bing Crosby’s wine cellar. Crosby owned a portion of the Pirates. A DVD appeared with the game. Tricia gave me a copy as a gift. Tonight, after the football games ended, I celebrated the past in the present as I watched the game.
“There’s a drive into deep left field, look out now… that ball is going, going gone! And the World Series is over! Mazeroski… hits it over the left field fence, and the Pirates win it 10–9 and win the World Series!” Mel Allen on NBC TV
And as it happens every time I watch the video or see a clip of Mazeroski pumping his batting helmet as he rounds the bases, I remembered my father. And my spirit warmed. And the smile has not left my face or my heart.
See you along the Trail.
The Pirates played the second of their three games against the Mets. And the tour returned to Citi Field. The Pirates lost.
Teeth were gnashed.
The Pirates came to town. And the tour went to Citi Field to see them play.
I close my eyes, squeeze them tight,
for a moment the neon assault
that is Yankee Stadium fades away
and I find myself sitting again
in a wooden seat, peanut shells beneath my feet,
within the steel and concrete of Forbes Field
where hands change the numbers on the scoreboard
while Clemente lashes a double into the gap
and the odor of his pipe tobacco
rises from my father’s clothes.
27 May 2018
Manhattan, New York
The return tour to New York has continued although posts have not been made. Efforts will be made to address that.
Last night, the tour made its way to Yankees Stadium. The first time I saw the Yankees play was against the Pittsburgh Pirates on 13 October 1960. The Pirates, my Pirates, won. I have remained a Pirates fan every since through triumphs, and a whole bunch of losing and frustration.
But my friend Don had tickets from his work and so, with Don and our friends John and Jim, I went to the game.
The Yankees put on a show of power. CC Sabathia pitched well. And a fun time was had!
He would have been 83 today. But he died, young. Too young.
And in my mind and in my heart I can see him still, the young man, who I saw live,
Asserting his rights in a racist society
Demanding that all people be treated with dignity and justice
Reaching out to people pushed to the margin by oppression and natural disaster
And in my mind and in my heart I see him still, the young man, who I saw live,
Patrolling the field of green with grace and passion
Slicing a line drive into the gap
Chasing flies with reckless abandon
Arms pumping, racing around the bases
And unleashing laser throws to the infield that froze runners in place or cut them down if they were foolish enough to try to advance
In my mind and in my heart I see him still
And seeing him, the young man, mist forms in my eyes
and my smile broadens
and my spirit soars.
See you along the Trail.
The photo comes from the Pittsburgh Pirates Facebook page.
The Until We Meet Again Tour hopped the 7 Train and rode out to CitiField. Don Jang joined me. There the Pirates beat the Mets. This marked the fourth time the Pirates beat the Mets when I attended the game. I think they should hire me.
See you along the Trail.
“Racial Prejudice, Racism Intertwined with Baseball” was cowritten with the Rev. Dr. Grace Ji-Sun Kim for EthicsDaily.com. Check out more blogs, videos and interviews on EthicsDaily.com.
A mid-August game at Citi Field between the Pirates and the Mets involved good friends and good baseball. It also involved, in our section, a racial moment.
Two young men brought a flag of the Republic of Korea to the game, standing quietly to display the flag each time Pirates’ rookie Jung-ho Kang came to bat.
For much of the game their simple action to honor Kang – who was born in Gwangju and played in the Korean Baseball Organization – went without comment.
When Kang came to bat in the 10th inning, the young men stood again with the flag. This time a number of people in the crowd responded by chanting, “U.S.A.!”
Kang got a hit, but the inning ended with a strikeout and Kang being tagged out in a rundown between first and second.
The chants of “U.S.A.!” began again. It was a moment to mock the Korean fans and the Korean player.
Then a young man took the flag and tossed it away from its owners. Clearly most of those in attendance did not agree, as other fans quickly returned the flag, but the ugly moment of racism remains.
The chanting and the actions represented an effort to support the Mets in a close game. To an extent, beer may have fueled them. But they were rooted in racism.
Racial prejudice and racism have intertwined with baseball, as they have with all of U.S. culture.
Their great courage, with the support of some players and individuals in management, allowed them to endure the hatred of individuals and discriminatory policies, such as not being able to stay at the same hotels and eat at the same restaurants as their teammates.
Henry Aaron endured hate mail and death threats as he chased and broke the home run record.
Roberto Clemente faced prejudice and discrimination while he established himself as one of the first baseball stars from Puerto Rico.
At his career’s beginning, sportswriters who spoke no Spanish mocked Clemente as he struggled to learn English, his second language.
In some ways, baseball in the U.S. has challenged prejudices and stereotypes, and seen some elements of racism dismantled.
And while baseball may be a national pastime in the U.S., it has become an international game.
We still speak about the MLB championship as the World Series even though baseball leagues exist in Cuba, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Taiwan, the Dominican Republic, Venezuela and elsewhere.
Between 1992 and 2008, teams competed five times in baseball during theSummer Olympics. Cuba won three times; the Republic of Korea once. The U.S. took the fifth gold medal in 2000.
Three World Baseball Classics have been held. Japan has won two; the Dominican Republic one; the U.S. has failed to medal.
International players fill the rosters of MLB teams. The Mets current active roster, for example, includes players from Cuba, Panama, Venezuela and the Dominican Republic.
Yet when two young men seek to honor a player from the Republic of Korea, they are met with taunting and disrespect of their flag.
The words and actions of a few remind us of how far we have come and of how far we have to go to overcome prejudice and dismantle racism.
Asian Americans from all countries are often viewed as the perpetual foreigner, no matter how many generations a family has lived in the U.S.
African Americans, Latinas and Latinos and indigenous peoples experience similar realities within the dominant culture.
Too often we value people by their looks or backgrounds, creating structures that identify some as belonging and inside and others as foreign and outside. This contributes to moments such as the incident at the baseball game.
Jesus calls us to accept everyone as equal and as members of the family of God.
John’s Gospel tells the story of Jesus meeting a Samaritan woman at a well (John 4).
The customs and structures of the time said Jews and Samaritans should have no dealings with one another.
However, Jesus engages her and asks for a drink of water. Their conversation ends with the Samaritan woman returning to the city to tell her neighbors of her encounter.
In this meeting at the well, and in his other actions and teachings, Jesus reminds us that we are made for relationship; we are made for each other. Jesus calls us to see people not as “foreigners” but as our neighbors.
We are all God’s children in our places of worship, neighborhoods, at sporting events and wherever we find ourselves.
Support your team, loudly and passionately, to be sure. But do so in ways that do not demean, subordinate or disrespect others.
Celebrate our human differences that enrich our lives and our society. Treat all people with dignity and respect. And do so in all places, including at sporting events.