On Roberto Clemente and Willie Stargell

On Roberto Clemente and Willie Stargell

On Roberto Clemente and Willie Stargell

Willie and Roberto weren’t just the best; they were greatness.


I could never make up my mind who my ultimate sports hero was. One day it was Willie Stargell. The next day it was Roberto Clemente. Growing up in Pittsburgh, in an era when the Steelers were terrible every year, the Pirates, unlike today, were the team every kid on the block loved. Playing baseball what seemed like every day, I had to make my choice. Did I windmill my bat while waiting for a pitch, like Stargell, or put my foot deep in the batter’s box and rub out the lines, like Clemente? I tried to perfect both. But it really didn’t matter, because I rooted hard for both, listening to Bob Prince make the call for every game on KDKA radio. I was undeterred when neighbor kids were respectful of my game but wondered why I chose colored players to look up to. Honestly, I never understood the question. Willie and Roberto weren’t just the best; they were greatness. That’s all that mattered then, and to this day it’s all that matters.

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