“Happy Birthday, Roberto Clemente!”—Smithsonian to hang Clemente’s portrait in ‘Recognize’ series


Echoing artist Miguel Luciano, who reminds us that today is a special day, we say “Happy Birthday, Roberto Clemente!” And just in time for his birthday (born August 18, 1934; died December 31, 1972), the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery will now include an iconic photo of this great figure in baseball history. [Also see previous post Roberto Clemente Birthday and Biography: Remembering Hall of Famer Pioneer, Humanitarian, Puerto Rican Great.] The portrait (shown above via Getty Images) is by Teenie Harris. David Browne (CBS Sports) reports:

An iconic photo of Clemente will hang in the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery as part of its “Recognize” series, the institute announced Tuesday. Clemente’s portrait, taken in 1960 by Charles “Teenie” Harris, won a popular vote at Smithsonian online over Babe Ruth and Sandy Koufax.

Born in Puerto Rico in 1934, Clemente was a transcendent Latino pioneer in Major League Baseball. He came to the majors at age 20 in 1954 but didn’t gain stardom until his sixth season in 1960, when the Pirates won the World Series. Clemente skyrocketed from there.

He was the first Latin American/Caribbean-born player to win a World Series as a starting player, the first to win be named Series MVP and the first to receive a NL MVP Award. A 12-time All-Star and Gold Glove winner, his defense (notably his arm) was as much of a calling card as his bat, though he also won four batting titles. His offensive game seemed to improve as he aged. In his final season, 1972, he batted .312 with an .845 on-base plus slugging.

Clemente’s death is as famous as his life: Known for his humanitarian efforts, Clemente died in an airplane crash on the way to Nicaragua. He was on a mission to aid earthquake survivors. Clemente had been expected to keep playing. And helping others. [. . .]

[Teenie] Harris, who died in 1998, led an unparalleled life himself. A semi-pro ballplayer as a young man, he also co-founded the Pittsburgh Crawfords, a prominent Negro League team, and later became a photojournalist, documenting the lives of African Americans in Pittsburgh for the Pittsburgh Courier and other publications. The honor of Clemente’s portrait hanging in the Smithsonian belongs to Harris as much as it does Clemente.

As for a moving picture of Clemente’s life, one is said to be in the works. It would be based on David Maraniss’s book, “Clemente: The Passion and Grace of Baseball’s Last Hero.” A short and rarely-seen biography — “Roberto Clemente: A Touch of Royalty,” narrated by Jose Ferrer and produced by Donald Fedynak — is heretofore the best-filmed story of Clemente’s life.

For full article, see http://www.cbssports.com/mlb/eye-on-baseball/25273677/smithsonian-to-hang-roberto-clemente-portrait-in-recognize-series

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