Roberto Clemente Foundation Gala Begins Weekend Festivities
The Roberto Clemente Foundation hosted their annual gala on Thursday, September 14th at the Senator John Heinz History Center and Western Pennsylvania Sports Museum. The dinner, auction, live performances, and awards show celebration were the first of many events planned around Roberto Clemente Day. This year marks the 50th Anniversary of Clemente's induction into the National Baseball Hall of Fame.
|Harold Reynolds and Andrew McCutchen onstage at The Roberto Clemente Foundation Gala, joined by Luis and Roberto Clemente Jr.|
The event started with a cocktail reception where guests had a chance to enjoy an abundance of appetizers and refreshments before the show started. There was some incredible live entertainment as world-renowned Pittsburgh artist Cody Sabol, and Nöel "Mr. Conga" Quintana & The Latin Crew added to the excitement of the evening.
|Cody Sabol creating a masterpiece as guests arrived to the Roberto Clemente Foundation Gala reception.|
Sabol completed three of his unique paintings, which were each a part of the auction during dinner. His completed pieces can be seen below:
Following the cocktail reception, guests were invited into the upstairs ballroom where Pittsburgh's WTAE Action News 4 co-anchors Janelle Hall and Andrew Stockey emceed the evening's Award Show, which highlighted the efforts of the Roberto Clemente Foundation and this year's award recipients.
Honorees this year included the The Major League Baseball Players Alumni Association (MLBPAA), Unlimited Potential (UPI), the Ghost Players, and pioneer Hip Hop legend Richard "Crazy Legs" Colón.
MLBPAA was honored by the Roberto Clemente Foundation this year for providing a platform for former players to continue their contributions to the sport and society, the MLBPAA has demonstrated unwavering dedication to upholding core human values, preserving the heritage of baseball, and serving the unique needs of players, earning them this prestigious recognition. Since its inception in 1982, MLBPAA has worked to promote the game of baseball, raise funds for charity, and inspire youth through positive sports role models. The MLBPAA provides, at absolutely no expense to children or their parents, the Legends for Youth Clinic Series, which combines former Major Leaguers and youth participants on the diamond. These opportunities provide children an opportunity to acquire life skills and baseball fundamentals.
|Victor Quiroga of MLBPAA accepting their award, accompanied by Luis and Roberto Clemente Jr.|
UPI was recognized for their efforts in assisting ballplayers to navigate their careers while emphasizing faith, leadership, teamwork, and family values rooted in the teachings of Jesus. Formed by former professional players, UPI offers a vital sense of community and guidance to athletes facing the challenges of life both on and off the field. Their remarkable efforts in assisting players to discover their true identities and connect with others within the baseball community make them deserving recipients of this recognition.
|Roberto Clemente Foundation Vice President, Victor Rivera, a Retired Command Sergeant Major and Coach, accepting on behalf of UPI with Luis and Roberto Clemente Jr.|
The Ghost Players, known for their iconic appearances in the movie "The Field of Dreams" and subsequent participation in the MLB Field of Dreams games, have become a symbol of baseball nostalgia and the importance of second chances. This year, the Roberto Clemente Foundation honored them for their multi-generational involvement and commitment to mirroring the values of the film. The Ghost Players serve as a heartwarming reminder to cherish the meaningful moments in life and express love and gratitude, making them deserving recipients of this recognition.
|Frank Dardis, Paul Scherrman, and Curtis Mack, three of the Ghost Players who were honored at the Gala with Pirates star and Roberto Clemente Award Winner, Andrew McCutchen.|
Richard "Crazy Legs" Colón was recognized this year for his remarkable humanitarian endeavors. As a Bronx-born, Puerto Rican dancer and educator, Colón has earned global recognition and respect for his pioneering role in Hip Hop and for his extensive humanitarian work. Specifically, Colón's influential work in gathering aid and assistance for Puerto Rico in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria makes him a deserving recipient of this prestigious honor from the Roberto Clemente Foundation.
|Richard "Crazy Legs" Colón with Andrew McCutchen and the family of Roberto Clemente|
The Clemente Foundation also recognized Andrew McCutchen and Harold Reynolds for their continued support and efforts. McCutchen was the 2015 recipient of the Roberto Clemente Award, and Reynolds received this distinction in 1991. At the Gala, both were inducted into the Roberto Clemente Hall of Fame.
2023 Pirates' Clemente Award nominee David Bednar, Manager Derek Shelton, President Travis Williams, and Major League Baseball legend Ken Griffey Sr. were several of the other notable attendees of the gala mentioned during the show by Luis and Roberto Jr. for their support of the Foundation.
The Roberto Clemente Foundation's annual gala, held in honor of Roberto Clemente Day and the 50th Anniversary of Clemente's Hall of Fame induction, beautifully showcased the theme of family and helping others. Many other events are scheduled this weekend, including ceremonies for Roberto Clemente Day. This information can be found at https://robertoclementefoundation.com/