Roberto Clemente, Jr.


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 connect 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.

Biography

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.

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 items to Nicaragua earthquake victims. The fact that his father died as Roberto Jr. was a youngster, inspired him to follow in his father's footsteps and try to become a Major League Baseball player.

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 as well as baseball, while his mother obtained her own share of fame in his native Puerto Rico.

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 team.

A series of injuries prevented Clemente Jr. from making it to the major leagues: after being traded to the San Diego Padres 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 he traveled to Venezuela, where he became a well known player, but, during tryouts with the Baltimore Orioles before the 1989 season , he suffered a career ending injury to his back and had to retire from professional baseball.

Clemente Jr. returned to Puerto Rico to help his mother in her quest to open the "Roberto Clemente Sports City", and, in 1992, he created the RBI Baseball program, aimed at bringing children to his sport.

Clemente Jr. went to Pittsburgh to establish the Roberto Clemente Foundation in 1993, 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 1996, Roberto Clemente Jr. accepted an offer to broadcast ] games, both on television and radio, becoming the Yankees' MSG Network, Telemundo and WADO. WADO inaugurated a weekly talk show with Clemente Jr. as show host in 1997.

In 2001, Clemente Jr. and former San Francisco Giants and Toronto Blue Jays player Candy Maldonado, a fellow Puerto Rican, teamed up to host the MLB's 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.

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 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.


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