Sounder SIGN UP FOR FREE
Huddle Up with Gus
Huddle Up with Gus

Episode · 2 years ago

Roberto Clemente Jr.

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Roberto Clemente Jr. talks about living in the shadow of his father, the impact it has had on his love of sports and his own identity. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

I am former NFL quarterback Guspera.I've played quarterback fifteen years in the NFL. This is my show calledHuddl up with Gus each week I team up with my longtime friend Dave Hager, andwe talked with guests about how sports shaped their lives. Pro Athletes,business executives, community leaders, everyone has a story to tell aboutsports. We invite you to huddle up with gus this week in the huddle. Well, heythanks for joining us today, Ond huddle up with GUS FROT and we're here at thewonderful Clementi Museum and Engine House, Twenty five and we got awonderful guest, Rereborta, Clemenni Junor and my partner Dave Hager they'rehere with us today, and you know we want to go into the huddle right nowwith you reberto. I know that's a football term and that's okay. I canhandle it yeah. I know I know, but so I'm going to get in the huddle with youand start asking some questions about how sports shaped your life and how buyou've had many transitions in your life, good and bad and how you dealtwith those and so first one of our questions was like when you were youngand growing up in Puerto Rico. I know you were back and forth btween PuertoRico, Ond Pittsburgh, who was like your main influence on you. You know I there are couple of ways oflooking at it because before that's passing and after before, that'spassing for me, manything in would come over to thehouse, and that was always dead. I mean I will always look at Willie Stargeland Al Oliver and kind of emulate, Tamy term for hitting and as a kid Iremember, watking wise haven. Er do his. You Know Pol Ovis Jersey, and I was Ithought that was so cool. But then you know I remember one day many singineshowed up our place and he had this tuffle bag with him and he opened it upwhen he walked into the apartment. An here in green tree and here comes a bunch of equipment andballs and stuff and then a captures...

...gear. When Dat saw the Catchof gear, hesays, get the stuff iut of my how right now none of my kids are going to be acapcher Blah Blah Blah. So I mean that was he threw him out. He trew the stuffout, get out jus. You know- and I remember that very well, because thatsaid, none of my boys are going to be a catcher. That was actually my favoriteposition growing up, which is kind of funny, but you know after after his passing for me. Obviously baseball was a a a big sport for me, but basketballfootball soccer. I played it all. You know Pale was a big enpiration forme because of the way he carried himself and Mohammedali. I'm boxing. Iwas a big fan of his and being able to meet him and hang out with him, and Imean just things for me. I really shape me who I am today. Well, that'sawesome and I think you know after your dad passed well, I had somebody who kind of kepton like I know you had to have like another father figure for you and afteryour dad passed. who was that, like that, you could turn to when you wereyoung and just you know, kind of get stuff off your shoulders or you know,wasn't an uncle or do Oah. Maybe there was actually there was one man andactually was three days after a Dak accident. I have not seen my motherhave not been home for three days and we were in my youngest brothersGodfather's home for three days so when he drove us to the House, I remember that day there were holhelicopters. There were I mean the there were cars hundreds of carseverywhere, so it was. It took us a while to go up the hill to the houseand when we get there, I see a bus getting to the front of theHouse and the doors opening the pirate...

...bus just got there into the house, sothey're walking into the hell they're falling in one by one into the home.There were hundreds of people there, so I remember trying to rod into the Houseand and Jack Davis from Philadelphia grabbed me and we tick o AA stick awalk and we had a conversation and he goes do you know what happened, and Isay I'll never see that again and we had this whole conversation about itand egos that you were Goingto, be strong, you're, the men of the Housenow, and I remember having discoversision withhim. We walk in back to the House and now I'm in front of the House, and Iturned to Jack, and I look up at him and I said Jack Who's. GOINGNA take meto play baseball and Victor and Vacus was standing rightthere. When he heard me, ask Jack that question and Victor had just married. My father's sister, likea sister who they grew up together and he put his hand on my shoulder. He GoesRobertito. Don't worry, I'm going to take care of that and his word. He never failed to pick me up for every practice. Every game never ever felnd me so that man for mewas like a second father and he's you know in my heart. I mean he passed awaya couple years ago and he never ever felnd me. You always remain close. Ohyeah, I mean his wife is still my aunt and you know he was my hero because he really took care of my need to go and play the game, and Inever knew who was going to take that part of my life and he was the onethat stepped up to the plate. Yeah Gos,...

...because those conversations that youhave in a car while you're going to the sport that you like to play right, didhe baseball San Ski was smart. It was asmart guy, so he was like a for me. He actually really shaped and it really continued to ask questions. Okay. So insituation situation play, for example, he was actually very smart is if thishappens here. He actually taught me a lot. He taught me a lot in the game ofbaseball and how to look forward and before anything happens, how to reallyvisualize an and be ready for any play that can happen, and he really helpedme inimmentally. What was his name again victor? We call him Btin bteen.He was quite a quote, a character. Now. Did hesupport your brothers in the same way? Yeah so lis? And I my brother and Ihave two brothers of Louise, an anriki ve, Berton rike. We call him ricky. Hewas only three when the accident happened, but Lis- and I are Irishtwins- were only living moch apart, so he was born in July. I was born inAugust, so for one month, oft of the year were the same age so because ofthat he had to play up in the League- oh yeah, so he was ucually caught inthat that in between right, so he was always I wore number twenty one.He had a wornumber twelve because in reverse so, but he luis, was always in the car with us. Hetook s everywhere in every practice and every game were you guys, competitive?Absolutely still. Today we still competitive yeah. I bet brothers werelike yeah right and you played multiple sports. So when you as you were going through allthis, as you got older and then you journey into high school right, whereyou still continuing to, were you guys in Perto Rico? More? Were you I inPennsylvania Moor? We had no choice. We had to go back. I actually had a scholarship...

...itkind of sounds kind of weird, but Ihad a scholarship from kindergarten and at private school in Buerto Rigo and Iplayed every sport growing up from basketball. I was a captain of yBout Basketball Team, my volleyball team. We went into voxing track andfield javelin disk four by four hundred. You know yardsand I did it all. I mean I was very busy. I had three or four differentpractices he's about every other day like I would go from change you fromuniform to the other one. I, and and before that I will be running threemiles before going through school every morning, so I was, I don't know. Idon't even know how I'm my live today, but I was very active to say the least.What was your best sport, volleyball and basketball? By far I mean my handslet'l see you see my hands bi. So if I have had Sevren photers from Patrickyewing, to I mean Avea, guys even toler to chankle from the Russian Olympicteam and put my hands against his as a kid and my hand was still at age,twelve go so being able to palm a basketball is nothing soright. So I wasgood. I woild be able to shake and bake, and you know so. If Al, if you were involleyball, you had H, you had to have a good vertical, oh volleyball. Yes,absolutely so you were known as a jumper. Yes, that could spike no doubtyeah. So were your long, jumper and track and all that stuff I gisten lawnjumper. Yes, I we beatid it all. So I was very, very active. I think dad actually had the record for the gabbling in his high school. The high school was demolished. I I want to say less Thante twenty years ago fifteenyears ago, and he still had to record for javelin. So imagine how long he hadthat record held for a Jablin throwit.

Obviously he was a softball player andand and the thing is like his ability to his arm was support and sill. TodayI haven't seen and I'm like kids Wat, see butt's really sad, Sir Brad Shok anthroait, Oh yeah yea. I think he had a high school record for a while forbashval and Youas bus maywe shoul get some major leaguer through playingbaseball. Now through the Jablen Dus ewer, you go to e yeah, because it is Ithi've thrown a few times and it is a different technique, ipeck beingcorrect or anything, and so now you in high school. You played a lot of sports.We talked about that, but what I want to know was like who was your favoritecoach? Who was a coach that that pushed you the hardest or made you want to bebetter because we all have those yes ball growing up. I had this guy he's in Willie, Medinaand Willie was a very young coach for me and he really taught me a lot, but then,when I became a professional Roly de armers who playd for PhiladelphiaPhillies and that's when I signed with the Phillis in D, eighty four, he pushed me. He actually taught me alot. He he and abiles from Puerto Rico, and those tworeally gave me a hard time because they saw a great potential and I was lost. I mean I got to clear waterwhen I sign with the with the Philadelphia fillies and I walked inand Remembe walking in and I was lost. I had a lot of questions and I had noone to turn to to actually ask those questions, and you know those guys kind of gave me ahard time in the beginning. But then they open up and said this, and youknow we played it caute your dad and you know they knew that they needed togo step off and AL lease. Give me some dimens Nice Tak...

...now as far as like what were youraspirations when you were in high school and when like did you seeyourself? What did you see yourself ten years from when you were seventeen orwhatever? Did you see yourself as he? You know kind of continuing what yourfather had started. Humanitarians standpoin is that Oo, athlete or DoyouDidnt know I at that point for me. You know going into the tropher roomdownstairs and being there where you know our pool table Waf and lookingaround and all the accolades and you I mean the rooms were three rooms full ofyou know trophies and gogloves and silver bats and MVP. For me, the two items thath reallyI connected the most Wer H, Ne Thousand Nine hundred andsixty in thusand Einehtundred Dseventy, one were series rings and for me I felt that I wanted to earn my own, and that became a goal.That became a goal to become a professional baseball player and a goalto go to the word series and actually earn my own or serious ranks right, andthat is something that I tell young kids and about never giving up on yourgoals and that you set and every day being able to continue working towardsthat goal. So getting hurt in eighty six with SanDiego was a big turning point in terms of thinking. I'm newer going to get to thework series in three surgeries. Three years of we have and then signing with the Orools in eighty nine being paralyzed epreen training backinjury, so that and itself stopped that. Obviously my career, an my dream of going to theword series and earning my own wings. Then after that...

I decided to become a broadcaster and because of becoming a broadcaster forthe New York Yankees. I was able to go in on thousand nine hundred and ninetyeight ninety nine two thousand and two thousand and one to the war series,Thosar gories UNTEAN or the best t e year for the Yankees period on you know,nd, and I was fortunate enough to be part ofthat team, not as a player, but it's a broadcaster. So it shows that if you love your game andyou're connected to the game, somehow you can still be part of a team andearn your goals that way, if you don't have the ability or for some reason,it's cut short because of injuries. You can now be part of a team that way as well. We,you probably learned worll series, rings correct Lu. Yes, I have threewise three wiles, yes, well, that's great, and that's kind of like soimportant for kids to hear is that you have all these transitions in your lifeand then you have this goal that you want to be the best and win I worldseries, but then something cuts, it short, but it doesn't mean you can't goand complete that glever give upand and that's so important for kids to hear,because so many kids say while I live in this impoverished area or whatever,and I have to play sports to get out right. A lot of people say that you gotto play sports to get out of here, but it's not true. No just you just got towork hard and you got to have a goal and you got to try to entain that, andthat sounds like just like what you really wanted to do all right and I think it's just amazing to hear yourstory and everything you've been through and obviously sitting in thisroom with your dad all around us. There's one person that we haven'treally talked about tat, Yrour Mom. I always say that we as three boys. She was thirty when the accidenthappened. My mother still married to my father and we always say that we are very,very proud to be reverto clemetic sins,...

...but we were very fortunate to be veryclementis since so what iwould you use di? You have a spooge, you have aswitch. What was it you know? My mom, an o mom had actuallymom had the ability we were sitting here and if we were acting out for anyreasons. Somehow it was invisible a pinch. She will do a twist like in theside. She will go and she will go here and your Creik and she'll give you alook like just wait. Ti We get home tope O di, but you know she never didanything wore. He got home, but it was like right. Ten. At that moment you say:Oh, you know. We knew that we neeed to behavean and mom. You know still a rock to this family and obviously shehas kept Dad's legacy alive and his dream of the Reperclem at the SportCity, his dream. They actually incorporated Sports City together andwhen the accident happened, they were looking for a land to start this sportscity for kids and she's kept that dream alive for the past forty six years. So that is amazing that she's done thatit's something I think that that's very much needed, especially nowadays,because kids is, you know we grew up. I grew up just going in the backyard andplaying- and you know my buddies would go to a field. It didn't matter if fibases or not, we just go play and it's different today. So when you you got tobuild things like that for kids, Tha want to go be a part of, but one of the questions I wanted toask is: when she got mad at you, what would she call you? I know she had aneat name for you that I was like my mom. would she'd call me Junor when she,when I was yes yeah? Well, I was always in still today, I'm still groer a dito.I will always for, for the end of my time with her, I'm I'm Croertito, butwhen she would get mad, she would say Robetito and I knew she was reallyMagas. She Never Calle Me Reverta, Oh...

...really, Yeh! So yeah, that's that's!That's kind of what I want like all of our moms like when they get mad at us.They had a they had our nicknameer, the one where they called you by your realname. Right, do yeah exactly yethat's what my mom ees to do. So we've goneover a lot about your life. You know- and this shows really about how I meanyour story- is out there. A lot of people know just because you know ifyour dad and everything you guys went through as a family and and your mombeing the rock of the family, and so now you know, as you kind of get out inyour own right. You get away and you're an adult now and you, like, you, talkeda little bit about getting hurt and getting injured, and you still havethis system around you now you got to kind of go like for me after I retiredI have my family right and I had some people that I go to after I retiredbecause I lost my family with sports, like it was a big transition for me. Sohave you had some of those kind of transitions like after baseball is done?You've said you went on to the Yankees and, like some think about some of theother transitions you had in your life wow. I can tell you that one of thereasons why I a I'm really looking forward in writing. My Book is because I know from the day the accident occurred to probably age twelve. I have a wholebook. I mean that's a that's. That's part of my life. That's a whole book sofrom twelve two, sixteen! So that's a different book. You keep a diary or youso no it. I said I god has given me an ability to remember so many things, andI don't know how, because I suffered fifteen concastions before high schooland nonsports related, but I, nine years ago I was treated in abrain center clinic in Dallas and they actually confirmed that I had sufferedso many concussions. I figured out that I grew up in pared and there I abswered so many questionsfor me. So for me to be able to tell my...

...story, I think it's going to be able toreally target or even have the opportunity to engagea lot of the people that have gone through the same things but there're.So many different hats that I can actually put on ANA conversationbecause I've gone through a lot in terms of suffering in terms of from racism to sexual abuse. To I mean there's so manydeep conversation that we can have, it will take hours to really I mean onvail.The whole thing. That's why I believe Writing Ha book is going to be able tohelp a lot of people yeah and I think it turn it. It helps you a lot when youwrite that book and you get that story out. It's almost more for you than justo anybody es as soon as I started talking about it and kind of letting itgo and publicly about the thing that I've I've gone through. Hase helped me,and I know by be able to write writing my book is going to be the best therapy period to be able to for me really just let it all out nd and, atthe same time be able to help other people, so you've had almost like ptsdfor all these year. I had yes, I was I wasn't. I was actually thank nels thatyou and a half probably a year and a half now, and I have no idea and I'm fifty threetoday and you know that's a long time not knowingthat you have you' suffering from Ptaz, since you were eight seven can ascoming, how you got fifteen concessions, that's a lot of qes! Yes! Well, that'svery simple is actually being a kid when you have eight, when you haveeight kids in one room, that's trying to take your heads up with pillowfights your tagging and you're hitting somone here, someone' hitting from andall just I mean, obviously and and those things that we did. We had noidea the damage we did. Werewe were...

...doing to our bring right and it was. It was tough and I used to be a fan for Taris man in Spiderman, so Iused to let er swinging. I be swinging in my room with a court from the wehave very heavy curtains and very high, and I was swinging the room and justHoldin to a BI curtain, strengs they'r, going back to the wall. I had the wallall the time with my forehead and I would see stars I I could cuss myselfso many times it was unbelievable wow. SO THAT'S SOI discones! Yes, thosearen't the good kind. I've had one of them, yeah anywayanyway. So I think you know justgetting you know hearing all this and- and I think it's so powerful that youtell your story because it's powerful for you and and just hearing it for meis powerful because you know just where you came from and all thesethings that you've been going through and all those transitions you've had inyour life and you're still standing right and that's what's important isthat you know people need to learn like with this day and age and everythingwed go through that was for me. Was We had a Rosus Kid? My Dad worked in themill was PPG guy wen't have any money. Just like you just bottled your waythrough you got hurt, you got up, you got back in and I did everything youhad to do, and so I think when you talk about concussions and all those thingsand now being a part of the company RCTWEEN Nx, which is named after yourfather and understanding brain performance, and I think now I see whyyou wanted to be involved in that. You know telling your story so that that'sreally important. So we talk about brain health a littlebit and how you've changed and how you let it change your life and understandit a little bit more now has it. You...

...have children, you at four children,right CORREC and you have grandkids correct. I am waiting actually next Bolh in a few weeks couple weeks. I'llhave my fourth grandchild. So yes, I'm a grandfather of three away from myfourth grandchild, so everything you've been through and I think it's justamazing, as is all my experiences, I try to help with my my kids understandlife a little bit more. So what do you try to teach your kids about all yourexperiences Av Youve en you know I messed a lot with my three daughters. Ialways said they'v, God had a very good sense of humor because he sent me threedaughters and I was want. Tod T do boy right, but obviously I was not preparedto have a boy and just understanding how tough it is to be a parent. For me, I didn't know how to be aparent, because I did have my father around. I was afraid to fail my children and a it really. It messed me up. Imean iy, really it was a very hard time for me. They understand me now becausewe have thise conversations and he understand where I was, and theyforgive me that we forgive you don't worry because we understand I wasactually not only not having my father around, but I had the world looking atme, like I wal with my father, so they wanted to come to me and touch me likethey were touching my father. They start crying. I consoled so manythousands of thousands of people that never knew my father, but they wouldmeet me and they will start crying. They will get emotional and just peopleare adults, N, a'm, a young kid and I'm looking at them. Tou're I mean bawlingand I'm consolling them because they're because of my loss, but it was theirloss as well. So anyway, it's a very...

...complicated situation for me to want toreally articulated as a whole in such a short time. But for me it really showed the love that the people have for myfather, but at the same time they never asked me how I was right. It was aboutthem. It was about their relationship with my father, and that was it in formany many years I was alone, I felt alone. I felt guilty onto two thousand and four because ofhim getting on that plane, because I try to stop him to tell t, I told himnot to get on the plane, because the play was going to crash. So that'sanother element of my whole situation. Growing up, I felt guilty that I didnot do enough to get him not to get on that plane yeah. It took you a longtime to come, yes and understand it that it wasn't your fault Probabl, a lot of pressure withcomparisons to your father being such a great man and it's all of a sudden. Youknow you're in thet a in about the man right now for a second, when I sagn mycontract in eighty four with Philadelphia phillies. I remember every single day from dayone in clearwater Florida. The the reporters- It was the samequestion. Are you as good as your father man? My answer was like? Isanyone good as my father right now and I'm only eighteen years old right? Sowhy you asking me you Hav not even in the major leages, yet I just sin acontract. I'm here ask those guys up there. Ri ht. I don't think there areanybody out there as good as him right now so, and I had to answer the samequestion and put persure myself. It was subconscious, it was tough. Itwas really tough. Looking back at it, I really had a hard time with it. So all the issues that you went throughdid your brothers kind of go through a lot of the same things. I...

I think my mother protected Louis Andriki momleft everything intact after the accident. I was always with that. I was you knowI will get in the car an we would go and spend time. Mom had leis and Riggi kind of righthere when the accident happened. It stayed the same. I really grew up alone. In many aspects I had to get in a planeand Gon and speak at a banquet receiving an an award behale of the family, and I'm talkingabout very young. I will get in a plane, go to a different city, misschool to goand receivein a word and they fly back home alone. So I grew up very quickly. I didnot have a childhood, so for me it was quite an interesting dynamic. I handled it. The way I could-and it's who I am today I was able to you- know just go and be from he peoplespeak and that's all I knew to do so. It was pretty interesting how that hasreally been a big factor. Obviously in my lifetoday so before we break the huddle here, so you have girls, you havegrandkid and then recently you just have Raverto comen of the third tellusabout a little ro. You know, God knew that I needed to be prepared andready to have a baby boy and to name Himberberta Clemi to thethird. It's a big deal, and I thank God that today I can actuallymake sure that he understands his responsibility to carry that name and I'm very proud that I am where I'msitting today being able to watch thim...

...grow every day, and I want to make surethat he understands that his name is going to be able to do good forhumanity. Owre you GNNA. Let him be a catcher if it said if he want M Aner, Idon't carey an do. What o the Musto do have some Sui man. He hasn't Seit Yobut.You know thank you for coming on. Our show we're going to have these every weekand we want tod be the first one. You would be our first guest and just doingit here at the Clementi Museum meant so much it's a big part of Pittsburgh, andwe wanted to give a little bit of your story to all those people out therethat need to transition and go through fights in her life and to know that hey,it's going to be okay, just work hard and put forone stuff. Thank you forhaving me. I wish your look. I can tell you that I want to come back andcontinue more stories, but I wish you the best. I think that this isfantastic and I'm looking forward to you N her. You guys, you know everyshop yeah, it's going to be great. It's going to go right out on trip and be ontrip, live and Huddhem up with gus check us out, and you know at least wehad a one good looking guy with us here and makes the camera look way better. So thanks for Joingg US today andlisten to our stories with our special guest, fo, Berto and Dave, what do you think about Rebertostory? It was unbelievable. I was sitting here next to himriverdid everywork and and doing it with his dad's Roundi. Guss was incredible. So pleasejoin us again next week when we bring on Rocky Blir.

In-Stream Audio Search

NEW

Search across all episodes within this podcast

Episodes (139)