Lessons during Spring Break
On Tuesday, a man donning a familiar Pittsburgh Pirates uniform No. 21 stood before a crowd of fans at the Hall of Fame and told the story of his life.
No, it wasn’t the real Roberto Clemente, who died in a plane crash while bringing relief supplies to Nicaragua following an earthquake in 1972. Instead, actor Greg Kenney performed his family-friendly performance of Roberto: Chat with an Angel.
“After a while, the powers that be allow you to come back and tell your story – as an angel of course,” he said.
The program is part of Youth Baseball Week at the Baseball Hall of Fame. With many kids out of school for Spring Break, the Museum has provided daily educational programs for kids of all ages through Friday.
Kenney who writes and performs about figures in history as part of Educate Us Productions has presented in 12 states over the past 11 years. At the Hall of Fame on Monday, Kenney told the story of Jackie Robinson in “Jackie: Cross the Line.”
Other programs throughout the week will allow visitors to recreate a baseball game radio broadcast, virtually connect to the Louisville Slugger Museum and learn about the science behind the game.
“I was known for my basket-style catch and my rocket arm,” Kenney said as Clemente.
Kenney told the story of Clemente’s upbringing, how he was faced with racism, and his successful career as a Hall of Fame baseball player. The wide-range of topics and stories showed kids and adults alike how Clemente overcame challenges to earn respect.
“My wife Vera gave me some advice when I first wanted to quit baseball,” said Kenney. “She told me ‘You never quit when you’re down – you have to give it one more try’. And that advice I want to pass along to my young friends at the Baseball Hall of Fame.”
A packed room in the brand new Learning Center at the Museum took those words to heart and learned about a man who not only won four batting crowns and smacked 3,000 hits, but was known for his humanitarianism, integrity and smile.
“There was one thing that made me very happy about playing Major League Baseball…the fans,” said Kenney. “The kids were the ones who truly made me happy because the kids really love baseball.”
Known for signing autographs for hours and always earning admiration from his teammates, Clemente won the hearts of baseball lovers during his career as Kenney won them all over again with his program. For kids on break from school, there are still important lessons to learn – and Kenney used baseball and the story of one of its legends to teach kids one on Tuesday.
“You have to keep on working to reach the goals you set for yourself in your life.”
Samantha Carr is the manager of web and digital media at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.