I was 10 years-old when Roberto Clemente was merciless abused by a bleacher sitter in St. Louis Cardinal’s outfield in summer of 1972

Such are the abuses that Clemente and other minorities have faced in sport for too long.  The particular abuse that summer day was followed by a sports cartoonist’s post in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch the next day, showing the fact that the entire stadium was aware of the racist abuse going on in that outfield (while I as a 10-year-old looked on). –kas 


The last time I personally saw Roberto Clemente alive was in the summer of 1972 when the Pirates were in St. Louis for a series.

That day my father, my brother, and I sat in the bleachers behind Clemente. I was just a kid, but I was able to see one of the worst forms of bigotry and racism dealt out by a single fan at a ballpark. Inning after inning that day, a drunken fan to-my-left in the bleacher seats yelled horrible things at Roberto Clemente.
Besides calling Clemente a “Bum”. Clemente was called every name in the book by this evil “fan” using the “M— F—“ words, the “B—“ word, and the “N—“ word.

Nonetheless, that fan continued to receive his brew or beer from the Cardinal vendors at old Busch Stadium that night. No Cardinal security came to shut the man up until one of the late innings when Clemente when back to the wall to catch a high fly ball below us. Just as Roberto Clemente, my childhood star, arrived at the wall, the drunken and abusive fan dropped his cup of beer right on top of Clemente—drenching my hero in beer and suds.

Clemente had made note of the heckler much earlier and had told the groundskeeper to watch the man. Only after Clemente caught the ball and received a towel to clean himself up from that fan’s beer was that ill-mannered and fan ejected from the stadium by uniformed guards.

I am sure that the abuse taken on by Clemente registered a lifelong hatred against abusive language in my writings and world outlook, i.e. supporting the marginalized parts of American society.



About eslkevin

I am a peace educator who has taken time to teach and work in countries such as the USA, Germany, Japan, Nicaragua, Mexico, the UAE, Kuwait, Oman over the past 4 decades.
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