By PAUL BARNEY
THE MORNING JOURNAL
LORAIN — Baseball and music.
What’s not to love?
Add in baseball royalty and that sounds like a pretty good night, right?
That’s exactly what fans can expect at tonight’s game between the Lorain County Ironmen and Richmond RiverRats at The Pipe Yard, which has been tagged the First Annual Roberto Clemente Night.
Prior to the first pitch at 7:05, there will be a pregame concert by Rey Carrion and the Latin All Stars at 5:30 p.m.
Carrion, who is the Director of Economic Development in Lorain, has been working on this project for many years in an effort to pay homage to the city’s Hispanic population, which is just over 20 percent.
And what better way to celebrate it than to honor the late Roberto Clemente, who was an icon in the Puerto Rican community both on and off the baseball field.
Clemente’s oldest son, Roberto Clemente, Jr., will be in attendance.
“For years we’ve tried and we were fortunate enough to be able to make this happen with the Clemente family and Roberto being here,” Carrion said. “We just felt that it’s fitting. A lot of people have fond memories and a tremendous amount of respect for what Roberto Clemente did not only for baseball but for people in general. A lot of people have been waiting for this day. We’re excited that it’s actually here.”
Roberto Jr. agrees.
“I’m very excited to be here because I believe that when you have a Hispanic community that is willing to get together and be able to make a change it’s something that we’re very proud of,” Roberto Jr. said. “I’m excited to see how it goes.”
Roberto Jr. flew in from New York and arrived in Lorain on Thursday night, stopping at Club Copa on 939 Broadway for a meet-and-greet.
It was the first time Carrion had seen Roberto Jr. in years as the two lived a few houses down from each other in Puerto Rico where they used to play baseball.
“I have not seen him and the family in over 30 years, so it’s exciting,” Carrion said. “This is really a great feeling for the people of Lorain and Lorain County.”
Roberto Jr., now 46, first heard about the event a couple months ago when he received a call from his attorney and friend Chuck Berry. It worked out perfectly as the event comes just days before Roberto Jr. heads to Kansas City for Tuesday’s MLB All-Star Game.
Much like his father was, Roberto Jr. is heavily involed in humanitarian work. He works with a lot of charities and right now is dealing with the company PowerIce, a hydrating ice bar that contains electrolytes and Vitamin C, but not high fructose corn syrup, which Roberto Jr. said they’re trying to get kids away from.
“It’s something that I’m trying to get into schools and leagues to put in their hands because I believe it’s the best way to hyrdate nowadays,” Roberto Jr. said. “Gatorade, for example, has a lot of high fructose corn syrup, so for the kids fighting childhood obesity, PowerIce is something that we’re trying to get out there.”
Roberto Jr. is also working with InteractiveMD, which in May named him as its Spokesperson to Introduce Telehealth Services to Nation’s Unemployed, Uninsured and Growing Hispanic Population.
Roberto Jr. is delivering the message that InteractiveMD telehealth solutions can provide on-demand, afforadable and convenient access to licensed healthcare professionals in all 50 states via video conference, phone, or secure email for the treatment or diagnosis of common conditions, according to the company website.
Mostly Roberto Jr. has been doing a lot of public speaking and working with kids in baseball clinics, which he loves most.
It was important for Roberto Jr. to carry on the humanitarian efforts his father did before his passing in 1972.
“It’s our nature,” he said. “My mom has been a rock and an example. She has continued my dad’s legacy and his work, and that is our legacy and culture as a family. It’s what we grew up doing and it’s our nature, so it’s what we do.”