The Google Doodle for October 12, 2018, honors the legacy of Roberto Clemente. Many remember him as a Hall of Fame Pittsburgh Pirates outfielder. But his lasting legacy is his passion for doing good. If you were alive on New Year’s Eve 1972, you didn’t need to be a baseball fan to be moved by the news of his death in a plane crash as he was flying to Nicaragua to help earthquake victims there. Fortunately, Google has kept his memory alive for the digital generation in the best way possible, a Google Doodle.
My Roberto Clemente Story
When I was 12, a friend of my dad’s invited me to spend a week with his family in Puerto Rico. So my mom dropped me off at O’Hare Airport one spring morning, and I flew down to San Juan by myself with in-flight music (mostly tunes culled from the Eagles Greatest Hits) to keep me company.
For a week, I lived in the San Juan area and got a feel for how residents lived as opposed to how tourists experienced the area. Every night, I fell asleep to the sound of kids playing basketball deep into the evening, and during the day, I wandered around the crowded neighborhood watching people live their days. Roberto Clemente’s presence was everywhere. He had been dead for four years at this point, but he was very much alive in Puerto Rico. Not a day went by without someone bringing up his name, perhaps when kids were playing catch in a park, or old men were drinking coffee in a cafe.
What I remember most: he was talked about, but his likeness was not branded on clothing, as if he were more like a god than a rock star. And no one discussed his achievements on the field. Instead, he was remembered for his compassion — the same compassion that inspired him to help earthquake victims in Nicaragua on New Year’s Eve of 1972.
Well played, Google.