One of my big thrills would always be when I had Doc Gooden visit Mrs. Roberto Clemente (Vera) at the Clemente Sports City in Puerto Rico.
We had kids come from all around the island to visit with Gooden.
Doc talked to the kids about the beauty of baseball and then he would teach the kids different grips on the baseball and talk to them about the mistakes that he had made in life.
Mrs. Clemente was an incredible host who told us some wonderful stories about her courageous and wonderful husband, Roberto.
This trip occurred right after Doc signed with the Yankees in the winter of 1995. Gooden never forgot how sweet Vera was. She just met the famed Dr. K but she would instantly treat him like a family member. She showed instant concern over Dwight's health situation. That is how she termed his drug problem at that time because she did not want to embarrass the good Doctor.
Her son Roberto Jr. had been a Yanks radio announcer on the Spanish side, so she was very familiar with the legend of George Steinbrenner and not in the least surprised at the fact that the Boss would take a chance on Gooden. I remember after our goodbyes that day, that Gooden would turn to me and say, "Meeting Mrs. Clemente must be how it would feel to meet Mrs. Martin Luther King."
That is a pretty good analogy Mr. Gooden.
This week we lost Mrs. Clemente. I can only say that baseball and Puerto Rico could not have had a better ambassador.
Rest in Peace, dear lady.
Ray Negron is a sports executive with over 40 years of experience in baseball. His first job came from a chance encounter with George Steinbrenner as a youth. He has become an American film producer, a best-selling author, and a philanthropist. His memoir is entitled, "Yankee Miracles: Life with the Boss and the Bronx Bombers." For more of his reports, Go Here Now.
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