EAST LIVERPOOL - Whether he's signing a bobblehead doll or talking to a fan, legendary Pittsburgh Pirates catcher Manny Sanguillen lets it be known that the late Roberto Clemente is never far from his mind.
On Saturday, Sanguillen, 69, was in East Liverpool to promote his new "Sanguillen's Sauce," a portion of whose sales proceeds are going to benefit the Roberto Clemente Foundation.
"We are going to do it for something good," Sanguillen said with a smile outside Rudibaugh Feed & Country Pantry, 1665 Shadyside Ave., on Saturday.
Baseball great Manny Sanguillen tells another story Saturday about his friend, the late Roberto Clemente, after signing a fan’s bobblehead doll. Sanguillen was in East Liverpool to promote his new “Sanguillen’s Sauce” and the Roberto Clemente Foundation. (Photo by Stephen Huba)
Rudibaugh's owner Larry Rudibaugh said he invited Sanguillen to come to his farm for a promotional event after learning about "Sanguillen's Sauce" from Michael Adams, a mutual business associate.
"It's a good fit for us and what we want to do here," Rudibaugh said. "We're looking forward to working with Manny. This is a new venture for him and for us, so we're hoping to grow together."
Rudibaugh's and Beccari's Farm Market in Oakdale, Pa., are the only retail outlets where "Sanguillen's Sauce" is currently sold, although Pirates fans may know of his cooking prowess through the Manny's BBQ concession stand at PNC Park.
Adams said Sanguillen hopes to have a spicier version of his sauce ready for sale in stores in the next three months. "Manny wanted to have his own barbecue, and he wanted to do something for his great friend Roberto Clemente and for his foundation." Ten percent of the proceeds benefit the foundation, Adams said.
"It has a better 'kick,' " Sanguillen said of the new sauce that's in development. "I thank God for that."
Sanguillen, the Pirates' catcher from 1967 to 1976 and from 1978 to 1980, replaced Clemente at right field in 1973 after Clemente's death in an airplane crash in December 1972. It was that storied career that brought most of the autograph-seekers out on Saturday.
Sanguillen, wearing bright yellow running shoes and a Clemente T-shirt, greeted them with a ready smile and an easy, affable style. Armed with several Sharpie pens, Sanguillen was quick with a Clemente anecdote or a story about his career with the Pirates that included two World Series championships.
Charlee Krawiec, 13, of East Liverpool, brought a bobblehead doll and a pink baseball glove for Sanguillen to sign. Even though she got it at a PirateFest several years ago, it's the only bobblehead she has with an autograph, she said.
Bill Haywood, 51, of Wellsville, brought eight Sanguillen baseball cards dating from his rookie year-1967-to 1978, the year he returned to the Pirates after a brief hiatus with the Oakland Athletics.
"He's the first Latino player I've ever met," Haywood said.
Sanguillen, a native of Colon, Panama, was inducted into the Latino Baseball Hall of Fame in 2011.
Haywood said he's been collecting baseball cards since he was a teenager in the early 1970s, when they could be bought for a nickel or a dime from a machine. Sanguillen was one of the players he followed and admired.
"He was a good player. I liked his style of play," he said. "He was a go-getter. He wasn't afraid to throw. He had a gun of an arm."