Roberto Clemente died trying to fly relief suppliers to earthquake survivors
Roberto Clemente not only was a great baseball player, he was a great humanitarian as well.
A native of Puerto Rico who played 18 seasons for the Pittsburgh Pirates, Clemente died in 1972 while on a plane that crashed into the Atlantic Ocean – it had been overloaded with relief supplies he was helping to deliver to survivors of an earthquake in Nicaragua.
During the baseball season before his death, Clemente’s daily driver was the 1972 Dodge Charger he won as Most Valuable Player in the 1971 World Series. Clemente had parked it at the airport in Puerto Rico before his fatal flight, but the Charger will be back in Pittsburgh this weekend, showcased at the Pittsburgh Vintage Grand Prix.
The car has remained in Puerto Rico until it was purchased at an auction in 2017 by Randy Dye, a Dodge dealer in Florida who grew up in northwest Pennsylvania and told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette he still remembers Clemente hitting in the run that won the fifth game of that World Series.
“It’s so much more than a car,” Dye told the newspaper.
After restoring the car, Dye keeps it in the showroom of one of his dealerships, but under a red car cover that is removed only on the 21st of each month in honor of the number on Clemente’s baseball jersey.
Dye occasionally shows the car at events with a charity component. The Pittsburgh vintage races raise money for the Autism Society of Pittsburgh.
The car will not be driven at the event but will be displayed July 20-21 on the Bob O’Connor Golf Course in Schenley Park. The races are held on roads through the park