Roberto Clemente is prominent figure inside Latino Sports
If you are in the South Bronx and are a Latino sports lover, a place that you must visit is Latino Sports, a small business located at 424 Grand Concourse.
This haven has rare sports collectibles, Latino Sports’ branded merchandise, sports books about Latinos, and jerseys featuring Caribbean baseball teams. Latino Sports considers itself as the “Number 1 Roberto Clemente Memorabilia Store.”
Latino Sports is not just a business. There is a small museum at the shop, which is free and open to the public.
The store’s motto is: “It’s about us, it’s about time!”
Julio Pabon, CEO and founder of Latino Sports, recently spoke with Bronx Latino about his shop.
(Julio Pabon, left, is pictured here with Senator Jose M. Serrano at the East Harlem Little League Parade.)
Q: Why did this business get started?
A: It got started out of anger. It was a result of an award we presented to Ruben Sierra who at that time was playing baseball with the Texas Rangers. Many felt he deserved to win the “Most Valuable Player Award” in the American League. Eventually, the award went to Robin Yount who played with the Milwaukee Brewers. The baseball writers voted for Yount. Who’s to say they were wrong? Yount had a good season, but then again Sierra’s numbers were far better.
This event showed that a Latin American institution to highlight the positive values of Latinos in sports was needed. So, I felt it was important for the community to have our own award. I didn’t know that it was going to turn out to be a yearly thing and then to the creation of Latino Sports.
Q: So, Latino Sports is not just about promoting the goodness of Latino athletes. Do you also consider yourselves as activists?
A: This is true. That’s how it basically got started. We realized that Latinos were overlooked not only in baseball but also in other sports.
Q: Latino Sports is heavily involved in the fight to retire “Roberto Clemente’s number 21.” Why is that?
A: Very true. Clemente was not only a great player and Hall of Famer. He was a humanitarian, father/husband, and a person who was proud of his Afro-Puerto Rican heritage. He stood up for things he believed in, loved people/children, and gave back. That is why number 21 should be retired.
Q: If 21 were retired, what would that mean to the Latino sports community?
A: It will be a victory for the entire Latin American community everywhere. It will be something that we believed in, working side by side by side to get. That team effort and caring is what has made Latino Sports a success.
For more information about Latino Sports, visit www.latinosports.com. – by Ismael Nunez
(Photos by Ismael Nunez)
Note: This article was originally published in Bronx Latino at www.bronxlatino.blogspot.com.