ATLANTA -- Roberto Clemente Jr., the son of Hall of Famer Roberto Clemente, took in batting practice before Friday night's game at Turner Field, getting the chance to speak with Braves and Phillies players and promote his family's upcoming book about the life of his father.
Though Clemente Jr. worked with his mother and brothers to compile memories and photographs for "Clemente: The True Legacy of an Undying Hero," he continues to learn about the passion and motivation of his father, the Pittsburgh Pirates great who was lost on New Year's Eve 1972 when the plane he had boarded in Puerto Rico loaded with supplies for an earthquake-stricken Nicaragua, crashed into the Atlantic Ocean.
The day before visiting Turner Field, Clemente Jr. was informed of new context behind the voyage that led to his father's death. While visiting a company that had recently donated over 400 backpacks for Back to School to his family's charity, Clemente was introduced to the CEO, whose father was the head of the militia that Nicaraguan dictator Anastasio Somoza deployed to stop planes from delivering aid from other countries at the time of Clemente's humanitarian work. The restrictions had compelled Roberto Clemente to board that fateful plane to Nicaragua in order to settle the matter himself.
"When he started telling me that Somoza had his father take over the whole militia, now it made a lot of sense to me," Clemente Jr. recalled. "He was the one that Dad was saying, 'I want to go through this guy, because I need to get to the hospital where I've been sending all this aid and not getting it to there.' So, that was the reason why he got on the plane. If it wasn't for his father, my dad would have never gotten on the plane."
Clemente Jr. also had high praise for Braves right-hander Tim Hudson, who has been selected as the Braves' Roberto Clemente Award nominee for the seventh time in the past eight years and the 11th time in his career.
"I think that he is an example for a lot of the players that are coming in young to understand the power of what you can do as a baseball player," Clemente Jr. said of Hudson. "He has won the award here so many times locally, I wish him luck this year, because if he can win it nationally, I believe that Tim Hudson's Family Foundation is doing a magnificent job, and he's utilizing baseball as a vehicle to do well, and that's something that we're very proud of as a family."
Since beginning the Hudson Family Foundation in 2009, Tim and his wife, Kim, have raised around $1 million to benefit children in Georgia and Alabama who have a genuine need for assistance. The Hudsons have also been involved with the Make-A-Wish Foundation dating back to 2000, as well as Children's Healthcare of Atlanta, the Moyer Foundation's Camp Erin -- a bereavement camp designed for children ages 6-17 who have experienced the death of a loved one -- and Team Colin, a community of individuals seeking to raise awareness about cystic fibrosis and the unique challenges families with cystic fibrosis patients face.
Voting for the Clemente Award runs from Sept. 17 through Oct. 6 at chevybaseball.com as fans help decide which of those 30 club winners will receive this prestigious recognition. The nominees were chosen based on their dedication to giving back to the community, as well as their outstanding ability on the field.
Eric Single is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less