Decades after Roberto Clemente promised to help those in need, Bronxites have joined the late baseball legend’s life mission.
Last Thursday, December 31, Project Club Clemente and the Bronx YMCA announced the beginning of their joint sports equipment drive, ‘Operation: Batter-Up’ which pays homage to the late all-star outfielder.
From Thursday, December 31 until Thursday, January 21, baseball equipment such as cleats, batting gloves, bats, usable baseball balls, helmets, catchers’ equipment, fielding gloves, supporting equipment like chest guards and jock straps, water bottles, sunglasses, baseball T-shirts and other baseball related equipment can be donated to this worthy cause.
Eliezer Rodriguez, Esq., PCC’s founder and CEO, said all equipment donated to Operation: Batter-Up will be shipped to the YMCA in Nicaragua and will be distributed among the Central American country’s many little leagues.
He added they are working with Nicaraguan representatives to ensure these items reach their intended destinations.
He said the sports equipment drive has received support from the Bronx Bombers Baseball Program who donated sports items a few days before it began.
Rodriguez added Ray Negron, special consultant of the New York Yankees, has pledged batting practice baseballs for the drive and the Victorious Warriors’ co-founders Diana Diffut, Bernice Torres and Regina Padilla have pledged to collect 300 pieces of sporting equipment to donate to the cause.
“We are proud to partner with PCC and work on ‘Operation Batter-Up’, said Sharlene Brown, Bronx YMCA executive director. “We are very grateful for this humanitarian gesture as the kids in Nicaragua are in great need of baseball equipment.”
Founded in September 2000, PCC was established to educate, promote and celebrate the memory of the great humanitarian and baseball Hall of Famer who died on December 31, 1972 while delivering 16,000 pounds of aid to Nicaraguan earthquake victims.
During the off-season, Clemente was well-known for spending the majority of his time conducting charity work to help those in need.
When the Nicaraguan capital of Managua was struck by a 6.2 magnitude earthquake on December 23, 1972 resulting in 6,000 killed, 20,000 injured and over 250,000 residents left homeless, Clemente, who had visited the capital three weeks prior, embarked on a relief mission.
The Pittsburg Pirates right fielder’s first three deliveries were diverted by corrupt Somoza government officials and they never reached the victims.
Always determined to help, Rodriguez explained Clemente accompanied the fourth relief flight hoping his presence would ensure their delivery.
However, Clemente’s charted Douglas DC-7 cargo plane crashed into the Atlantic Ocean immediately after takeoff on December 31, 1972. His body was never recovered.
Thirty three years later on December 31, 2005, PCC established the ‘Flight for Humanity (Mr. Clemente’s Last At-Bat)’ to accomplish Clemente’s final humanitarian effort.
PCC is asking the community, baseball fans and those who have been influenced by Clemente to step up to the plate in donating to Operation: Batter-Up.