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Pediatrician Eliseo Rosario Dreams Like Roberto Clemente

 

Eliseo Rosario                                                                                                                                         Danny Torres

 

 

Danny Torres Interviews Dr. Eliseo Rosario

 

N.Y.-- It was exactly three months ago, Bronx born pediatrician, Dr. Eliseo Rosario graciously accepted an invitation to participate in the annual “21 Days of Clemente” symposiums, sponsored by Latino Sports Ventures. This yearly event invites school children to participate in a borough wide art contest to create an original piece on Clemente. The artworks capture the essence of this legendary ballplayer who sacrificed his life in order to help the suffering after a devastating earthquake hit Nicaragua in 1972.

Clemente’s plane, filled with relief supplies, tragically crashed while in route to this Latin-American country. During the 21 days that led up to the anniversary of Clemente's passing, three impromptu forums were held where invited speakers gave their presentation on the impact of Clemente's legacy in today's society. Dr. Rosario's discourse was on the topic “Clemente and children.” He touched on a variety of personal accounts and his experience of serving a community in Clemente's adopted state of Pennsylvania.

The Legacy of 21, a movie on this legendary outfielder that was produced in Dr. Rosario's old neighborhood, will make a historic trek to his current home and will be screened on Saturday, May 5th. For the last thirteen years, Dr. Rosario along with his dedicated staff has sponsored a multi-cultural street festival called Amani.” After the festival, the documentary will be shown in the evening at a local college theater. Similar to Clemente's dream, Dr. Rosario's wish is simple: for everyone—no matter what race, color, creed or gender—to always help one another. Clemente once said so many years ago, "Anytime you have an opportunity to make a difference in this world and you don't, then you are wasting your time on this Earth." This is the FIRST in a three-part series on The Legacy of 21 and its journey to Pennsylvania.

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Danny Torres: You're a Bronx-native, a pediatrician currently living in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, who inspired you to become a doctor?

Dr. Eliseo Rosario: Well…that goes way back to when I attended middle school. When I took the test for Brooklyn Tech (a specialized High School in New York City), my intention was to attend Bronx H.S. of Science. My mother and counselor coerced me into going to Brooklyn Tech. I had every intention of transferring out. It wasn't till I met a physician who graduated from Tech and told me to stay put. As it turns out, it was the right move because they worked us very hard. There were no females so I didn't have any distractions. The year after I graduated they admitted two girls. It was an experience.

DT: You've been practicing for over twenty years and when we first met in Puerto Rico it was at a charity gala honoring Roberto Clemente, what's your earliest recollection of this unbelievable ballplayer and humanitarian?

ER:
I came to the sport late in life. It was the impact of hearing it from people because you get the emotional overlay and the history. When you talk to the people who got to see him play and those who knew him, there's an aura about him when they speak that's admirable. I think from that perspective, I look at his story and the impact thirty years later, that impact impresses me more than his story. The people talk about him in a way that I've never heard another sports figure spoken about in that manner. My guess would be Jackie Robinson. That would be the only one that comes close of people speaking in a reverence of a sports icon.

DT: You're one of the chief organizers in Carlisle of a multi-cultural festival called Amani, founded in 1994. How did this yearly celebration come to be?

ER: There was a gentleman in Carlisle named Floyd Stokes who opened a record shop. He is a huge music enthusiast particularly international music. I would go to his shop frequently to talk music. He's very good at pooling resources and getting people together. He came up with this idea and approached me to talk about it. He knew I would be his music/entertainment person. I was the one who had the pulse of the international scene. He was impressed with my appreciation of international music. He would invite me to the committee meetings and amazingly that was thirteen years ago. He had this unbelievable idea of a multi-cultural festival in a predominantly white community. His intent was to bring everyone into the community and expose our people to the rest of the world. In the beginning, when we were crawling, we would be explaining what Amani was ten times a day, Folks thought it was a black thing. He kept chipping away and the more we worked together, the closer we got. Although he has moved on, he still calls and stays in touch. He still has Amani in his heart.

DT: This year, you decided to incorporate the life of Roberto Clemente as the theme of this year's festival. By premiering a documentary on the legacy of Clemente and the annual poetry contest that will include a quote from his life, what kind of feedback did you receive from the other board members?

ER: It was accepted. In fact it was one of my board members who came up with the idea of using a quote from Clemente. The quote ties in beautifully. Folks were impressed that we had the access and everything started to come together. We felt we could get the sports buffs involved in the festival and tie those people in with a guy who was an incredible athlete and humanitarian. So now it's not whether we should do it but can we pull these resources together. When I mentioned this to people on the street, they stop dead in their tracks. This is what reinforces my thinking that people will come to this who may not have come to Amani before. It now allows us to highlight an incredible humanitarian of Puerto Rican descent. If the number 21 is finally retired by Major League Baseball, we can say we played a little part of that here in Carlisle. It wasn't just a festival but multiple things going on at the same time and that's gratifying.

DT:
You invited the Clemente family and one of Roberto's sons, Luis has accepted your invitation to come to the festival. You're also working on a possible statewide proclamation honoring Clemente. What do you hope to see at the conclusion of this event?

ER: I think that the people who have been coming locally for the last 13 years will begin to get a sense that the message is being heard much further than our borders. I'm hoping to get a significant draw from other communities surrounding us because we don't have a huge Latin community. There's a huge Latin community in Reading. I think we need to broadcast that cultural aspect and broaden that to include everyone in the community. Heaven knows during these difficult times, we need all the help we can get.

DT:
Amani means peace and I wish you much success and peace throughout this historic period in Carlisle's history.

Source: Latino Sports / posted 7 March 2007 

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I’m a big fan of Charles Mann’s previous book 1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus, in which he provides a sweeping and provocative examination of North and South America prior to the arrival of Christopher Columbus. It’s exhaustively researched but so wonderfully written that it’s anything but exhausting to read. With his follow-up, 1493, Mann has taken it to a new, truly global level. Building on the groundbreaking work of Alfred Crosby (author of The Columbian Exchange and, I’m proud to say, a fellow Nantucketer), Mann has written nothing less than the story of our world: how a planet of what were once several autonomous continents is quickly becoming a single, “globalized” entity.

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Related files:   The Defeat of the Great Black Hope  Clines Reflects on Clemente, Stargell, and the Team of Color     Unforgivable Blackness     Dick Tiger  Pediatrician Eliseo Rosario Dreams Like Roberto Clemente   

Leroy Robert ("Satchel") Paige   Battling Siki: A Tale of Ring Fixe  Baseball: A job African Americans won't do?