Behind The Scenes

40 years after his death, The Clemente Effect examines Roberto’s lasting impact

This Sunday, ESPN (4:30 p.m. ET) and ESPN Deportes (10:30 p.m.) will premiere The Clemente Effect a documentary that chronicles the life and accomplishments of Roberto Clemente.

Front Row spoke with producer Vic Seper and director Mario Diaz, who shared their experiences working on this project.

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What is your role at ESPN and how did you get involved in the production of the film?
V.S.: Ha! That’s a good one. I am a Senior Editor for digital, but six months ago I was nominated for ESPN’s Job Rotation Program and I landed in International Content Development. One of my many projects was the development of El Efecto Clemente. Everyone in the company was incredibly supportive from the beginning.

Why did ESPN Deportes decide to produce a film about Roberto Clemente?
V.S.: We broadcast and analyze games better than anyone. What International Content Development does is offer relevant content our fans can embrace around those games. With the Caribbean Series, the World Baseball Classic and it being 40 years since Clemente’s death, Deportes leadership felt it was a good time to tell the compelling life story of a man whose legacy transcended baseball.

What can viewers expect from the film?
M.D.: From the very beginning, we set out to make a film that chronicled not just Clemente’s incredible accomplishments as an athlete and a humanitarian, but also one that showed what he was like as a person. Considering that it’s now been 40 years since his tragic death, we wanted to remind people he was also a complex human being with a deep respect for people. With this approach, the film makes him vital again. He stops being an old baseball star on a vintage poster and becomes a man everyone can relate to.

What do you take from Clemente’s story and this project?
M.D.: To me, the most interesting aspect of Clemente’s story is that it is still relevant today. As you’ll see in the film, he is still inspiring people everywhere to share his story by, for example, opening a museum or dedicating an entire day to him at an elementary school. But it’s in places like Puerto Rico, where baseball is experiencing a crisis, that his absence is most deeply felt. Clemente always supported Puerto Rican baseball and the issues that exist there only serve to underscore what a great leader he was, and how we need people like Roberto today.

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