Youngsters in tears, community outraged as Clemente mural is defaced
FEB 13, 2014 1:00p ET
A Central Florida community is outraged and perplexed after an unknown painter defaced a beloved Roberto Clemente mural at a local Little League complex.
The mural at the Azalea Park Elementary School field, about five miles east of downtown Orlando, depicted the Hall of Famer and Puerto Rican baseball icon along with the saying, “Our Field of Dreams.” It was painted in 2011 by New York graffiti artist Hector "Nicer" Nazario, according to the Orlando Sentinel.
“That was our field of dreams," baseball coach Ramiro Rivera told WFTV. "That was the person we looked up to. And to be defaced like that out of nowhere is really a shame."
According to the Sentinel’s report, a parent from Azalea Park Elementary, the student population of which is nearly three-quarters Hispanic, was dropping his kids off at school Wednesday when he saw two men painting over the mural, which was on the side of the concession stand.
The parent alerted the group that manages the park, but a day later, there is little clarity as to why the mural was being painted over.
Some have blamed the cover-up on a group called Quinco Baseball Academy, which helped refurbish the field in exchange for free use of the facility, however, Quinco official Todd Adams told the Sentinel that his group had no hand in the mystery touch-up and said that some Quinco ads at the field had been painted over, too.
Instead, Adams pointed the finger back at the league, suggesting that it may have been tied to a dispute within the board over what was and was not allowed to appear on walls and dugouts at the park.
"Absolutely not," Adams told the paper when asked if Quinco was responsible. "We're upset about it, too. Some wires may have been crossed."
League officials disagreed, however, and voted Wednesday to ban anyone affiliated from Quinco Academy from the field while the league and local police investigate the issue.
The Orange County School District owns the field, but not the concession stand that housed the mural, and told the Sentinel that it, like the league and Quinco, had not ordered a crew to paint over the image. And while it’s still unknown who made the call to paint over the mural, it’s clear that it was a source of pride for the league and many of its players.
"I have kids crying about this," league vice president Ramiro Rivera told the Sentinel. "It's affected a lot of people. It's outrageous."