Jordan: ‘Roberto was our brother’: Dave Parker recalls first Pirates spring training without Clemente

From Dave Parker with Dave Jordan at The Sporting News on March 22, 2018:

They can’t find him.” 

That’s what my teammate Ron Mitchell said to me on the phone, New Year’s Day 1973. 

Whenever there’s a horrible accident or tragedy, and even if it’s more search and recover than search and rescue, you never talk in terms of death. You never use that word until you absolutely know for sure. You cling to every possibility, every hope, that there’s a chance things will be OK. 

“Roberto was in a plane crash last night. They can’t find anybody.” 

I was out that night with friends celebrating the end of a great year and the joyous coming of a new one. This would be the year that I finally made the Pirates roster. When I signed with Pittsburgh out of Courter Tech High School in Cincinnati in 1970, I gave myself three years to make the bigs. I missed the Triple Crown by a home run for the Salem Pirates only a few months earlier. The team was calling me their No. 1 prospect. With everyone saying our outfield was the deepest in all of baseball, I knew competing with them would be tough but I never had a moment’s doubt. I batted .400 last spring training, hit a couple of dingers, a few doubles and triples. But I put that all aside when I got the phone call from Ron.

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Originally published: March 22, 2018. Last Updated: March 22, 2018.