Roberto Clemente's Impact on Pittsburgh

From his arrival in 1954 to his departure in 1972, Clemente left an indelible mark on the city of Pittsburgh.

By The Clemente Museum

Roberto Clemente and FamilyThe Clemente Museum

In 1955 Roberto Clemente officially moves to Pittsburgh, PA

After being picked up by the Pirates, Clemente makes the move from his home in Puerto Rico and plants himself in Pittsburgh at the age of 21.

Roberto Clemente and Phil DorseyThe Clemente Museum

Clemente quickly finds that things are very different.

After being raised in Puerto Rico, Roberto did not have much first hand experience with cultural and racial bias. This all changed when he arrive in Pittsburgh. To help Clemente adapt to the new city, Bob Friend introduces Roberto to Phil Dorsey (pictured on the right). 

Vera Clemente and Phil DorseyThe Clemente Museum

Phil helps Roberto create a new home.

Phil Dorsey (far left) quickly became a close friend and took care of everyday matters for Clemente and helped him navigate the new city. He even found him housing when he initially arrived.

Roberto Clemente Playing PoolThe Clemente Museum

Roberto settles in to the local culture.

Introduced to a few spots in Pittsburgh's Hill District by Phil Dorsey, Roberto often visited the Crawford Grill, seeing such jazz legends as Louis Armstrong, and shot pool at Woogie Harris' bar.

Roberto Clemente with Elsa CoolongThe Clemente Museum

Roberto Clemente and Elsa Coolong

Roberto also found a bit of home through Elsa Coolong. Elsa had lived in the same village as Roberto and she helped break the language and cultural barrier for him in Pittsburgh.

Roberto Clemente with Pittsburgh PriestThe Clemente Museum

Clemente further embedded himself within Pittsburgh.

Through his continued success with the Pirates, Clemente begins appearing at local events to support the community around him.

Roberto and Veran Clemente at HomeThe Clemente Museum

Roberto and Vera find a home in Pittsburgh.

Roberto and Veran Clemente at HomeThe Clemente Museum

Purchasing a home in the newly built Pennley Park in 1966

The year after Roberto and Vera are married, they find a new home in Pittsburgh.

Pennely Park Brochure CoverThe Clemente Museum

Built in the burgeoning East Liberty section of Pittsburgh

Pennely Park Brochure Page OneThe Clemente Museum

Pennley and the area catered to many Pittsburgh Pirates

Pennely Park Brochure Page Two (1959)The Clemente Museum

Boasting modern luxuries and pre-furnished living spaces.

Roberto and Veran Clemente at HomeThe Clemente Museum

Roberto and Vera would live here until 1970

Roberto and Veran Clemente at HomeThe Clemente Museum

Seeing the birth of all three of their sons.

Framed Birthday PolaroidsThe Clemente Museum

The Clemente family also raised their children in Pittsburgh

Having a home in both Pittsburgh and Puerto Rico, their time was split between the two raising a family.

Roberto Clemente Jr Birthday Polaroid 1The Clemente Museum

Roberto Clemente Jr. celebrated his second birthday...

Roberto Clemente Jr Birthday Polaroid 3The Clemente Museum

... at home in Pennley Park, crowding it with local friends.

Roberto Clemente Signing Autographs 3The Clemente Museum

When not concentrating on his family and baseball career...

Roberto Clemente Signing Autographs 1The Clemente Museum

...Clemente always took time to care for his fans.

Roberto Clemente Signing Autographs 2The Clemente Museum

He always signed autographs for Pittsburghers when he got the chance.

School for the Blind Signing 1The Clemente Museum

And took time in particular for people who needed it.

School for the Blind Signing 2The Clemente Museum

Like the Pittsburgh School for the Blind, and many others.

Roberto Clemente in Three Rivers ParadeThe Clemente Museum

Roberto even saw the eventual end of Forbes Field.

He's pictured here with workers at the demolition site.

Roberto Clemente at old Forbes FieldThe Clemente Museum

And took the trip from Forbes Field to Three Rivers Stadium.

Shown here in a parade for the opening game at Three Rivers Stadium. Clemente comments that leaving Forbes Field was especially emotional, saying that he spent half his life playing ball there.

Clemente Day SignThe Clemente Museum

Both the City and the Pirates recognized all of this.

Roberto Clemente Day 1The Clemente Museum

The Pirates have Roberto Clemente Night on July 24th 1970...

Roberto Clemente Day 3The Clemente Museum

...Celebrating the achievements of their most iconic player.

Puerto Rican Children at Clemente DayThe Clemente Museum

Puerto Rico shows it appreciation as well:

A group of school children make the trip from Puerto Rico to Pittsburgh with a scroll showing 300,000 names honoring Clemente. The group also makes a large donation to charities in his name.

Roberto Clemente Day 5The Clemente Museum

Clemente is still celebrated to this day.

Every September 9th, the Pittsburgh Pirates and MLB invite the Clemente Family to remember Roberto and announce the nominees for the Roberto Clemente Award.

Roberto Clemente Day 4 by Duane RiederThe Clemente Museum

Which shows his mark on Pittsburgh will never tarnish.

Luis Clemente at Roberto Clemente StatueThe Clemente Museum

Roberto Clemente's name is etched in every corner...

Vera Clemente at Roberto Clemente Statue by Duane RiederThe Clemente Museum

...And his legacy still stands tall.

The City of Pittsburgh builds a statue to honor Clemente

In 1994 the City of Pittsburgh unveils the iconic Roberto Clemente statue created by local artist Susan Wagner.

And renamed the 6th Street bridge after Clemente in 1998.

Roberto Clemente also shows up in the Legends mural.

Painted by Michael Malle, the Legends of Pittsburgh features the iconic baseball stars of Pittsburghs past.

And also on The Clemente Museum mural.

Painted by Kyle Holbrook in 2019.

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The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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