PALM BAY, Fla. — On Thursday the baseball complex at Fred Poppe Regional Park in Palm Bay was officially named after Puerto Rican baseball legend and Major League Baseball Hall of Famer Roberto Clemente.
What You Need To Know
- The baseball complex at Fred Poppe Regional Park in Palm Bay was named after MLB legend Roberto Clemente Thursday
- The Roberto Clemente Baseball Complex was a something Sam Lopez started fighting for 25 years ago
- He died in January, but his children said they know he was there in spirit Thursday
Clemente’s sons Roberto Clemente Jr. and Luis Roberto Clemente attended the dedication ceremony and visited the Roberto Clemente Sports Complex located in Heritage High School.
“It’s been unbelievable understanding that we have so many Puerto Ricans in Florida,” Roberto Clemente Jr. said.
“It’s being honored by Puerto Ricans and the community alike that’s the father that keeps us going, that’s the fuel that we have to continue the work for the legacy,” Luis Roberto said.
The Roberto Clemente Baseball Complex was a dream Sam Lopez envisioned and fought for almost 25 years ago.
“I know he’s happy because he knows all the efforts that went in from 1977 in New York City and retiring here," Lopez's son Samuel said. "This is that opportunity as a symbol meaning we are here, meaning people of color are here and in the Central Florida region we are recognized."
Lopez passed away mid-January before he got to see his field of dreams come true.
“Yes, yes it is a little bittersweet,” Samantha Bickman, Lopez’s daughter, said. “I really wish all of this would’ve come into fruition when my dad was still alive (but) I know he’s looking down on all of us and he’s saying, ‘Yes, yes, yes! We did it.”
“This is the opportunity he’s been waiting for and, unfortunately, he never saw it happen, but I know he’s here in spirit,” Samuel said.
The baseball complex dedication was one of the many projects Lopez was involved in. Through his nonprofit organizations, The Florida Puerto Rican Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and the Florida chapter of the United Third Bridge Inc. he’s served, fought, and helped inspire pride in his Hispanic community.
Lopez founded the oldest Puerto Rican Day Parade in Florida.
The Clemente brothers will attend the Roberto Clemente Middle School mural unveiling in Orlando on Friday, April 15, 2021.
Lopez’s children say it’s a dream their father fought to become reality for almost 25 years. They say it’s a little bitter sweet he’s not alive to see it. @MyNews13 #News13Brevard https://t.co/tTzQCRz4PY— Jesse Canales (@jescanal) April 15, 2021