On Saturday May 28th, I did an interview with Dante Decaria, a broadcaster with the Ottawa Champions Baseball Club, on CKDJ 107.9. We touched on many great topics including my passion for the game of baseball, collecting baseball cards – a hobby I have enjoyed for 35 years now and of course, the legacy of Roberto Clemente.
As written about previously on this blog, I revealed that after spending time this winter researching about the career and legend of Clemente, I discovered that yes, Roberto Clemente has been to Ottawa, Ontario and played professional baseball as a member of the Montreal Royals Triple A team, affiliated with the Brooklyn Dodgers. It has been well documented by baseball and American historians that the 19 yr old Clemente was “hidden” by the Dodgers to avoid clubs finding his talent. They clearly had underestimated Branch Rickey, arguably the greatest innovator in baseball history who paved the way for Jackie Robinson’s iconic baseball career, signed Clemente out of Brooklyn to play for the Pirates and the rest is history.
We have documented evidence that in 1954, the Montreal Royals travelled to Ottawa to play the Athletics at Lansdowne Park 4 times (May 11-13, June 15/16,July 2/3 and 13-15th) and in those games, Clemente played 5 times. This link shows the Sporting News edition of July 14, 1954 with the boxscores of two games; Friday July 2nd and Saturday July 3rd…ClementeInOttawa
We will have more to say on this as we are continuing our research to uncover more information on this exciting development of our city and baseball history – but for now, consider this….Clemente is only the second Hall of Famer to play in a professional baseball game in Canada’s Capital. The other is Frank Thomas during the Ottawa Lynx era while on rehab with the Charlotte Knights.
UPDATE; Now, a third Hall of Famer has played in a professional baseball game in Ottawa. On August 21, 2001, Tim Raines played in a game on a rehab assignment for the Ottawa Lynx. More importantly, his son, Tim Raines JR played against his Dad for the doubleheader as a member of the Rochester Red Wings in the International League.