On the Fast Track: Duane Rieder

With 1,000 rare photos, clothing and trophies, Duane Rieder opens a museum with his personal collection of memorabilia dedicated to Roberto Clemente.


Photo by Rob Larson

In a former Lawrenceville firehouse complete with a fire pole, Duane Rieder is living out a childhood dream. Pittsburgh Engine House No. 25 on Penn Avenue, with its brick turrets and bright-red front door, is the 46-year-old photographer’s shrine for a collection of memorabilia—not of firefighters, but of his hero, Pirate baseball legend Roberto Clemente.

As a commercial photographer with a special interest in sports portraiture, Rieder loves the Clemente image, in all senses of the word. “I just love what he stood for. And I love photographs of him,” says Rieder, greeting a visitor in a black ball cap with the 21 logo on it. “With Clemente, every shot is a winner—he took great pictures, as if he knew they would be displayed one day.” His two-story collection of 1,000 rare photos, contracts, clothing and trophies, including two of Clemente’s 12 Gold Glove awards, will be the backdrop for the premiere screening of “Clemente,” a PBS documentary by director Michael Chin. It will air Mon., April 21, at 9 p.m., on “American Experience” on WQED-TV 13.

“I’m a fan of old baseball,” says Rieder. “I love the look of the old sepia-toned images.” When an assignment for a 1994 Clemente calendar took him to San Juan to meet Clemente’s widow, Vera, they kindled a friendship that has continued, sharing images, memories and stories of the right-fielder, whose plane, delivering relief to Nicaraguan earthquake victims, crashed on Dec. 31, 1972. The world mourned baseball’s first Latino Hall of Famer, who had been named World Series MVP just a year earlier.

“We see clips of him running the bases or catching a ball, but we don’t really know the man that he was,” says Rieder. Rieder hopes his collection, which opens officially in mid-April, should help to enhance Clemente’s standing in a city that has honored him since he first joined the Pirates in 1955.

Rieder’s personal collection is augmented by some items lent by Vera Clemente, who continues to live in the house her husband built in Puerto Rico. “She’s one of the best people I’ve met in my life,” says Rieder. Pittsburghers glimpsed images from the collection in a popular show at the Western Pennsylvania Sports Museum at the Sen. John Heinz History Center last year. However, Rieder’s Penn Avenue collection is separate from both the sports museum and other Clemente charities. It is not connected to the Clemente Foundation, which operates only in the United States, or to Sports City, the 304-acre recreation complex Clemente’s widow had built on land in his hometown of Carolina, Puerto Rico, after his death.

Former Little Leaguer Rieder grew up in St. Marys, Elk County, playing on teams with his three brothers. “Right field,” he clarifies. “How about that?” Since 1996, when he bought the 1896 firehouse that once had served as a City of Pittsburgh parks department garage, his brothers have helped him remodel the space, which doubles as his studio, although he lives in the South Hills.

When he discovered recently that Lou Gehrig had once spent a night at the building in 1927, accepting an invitation from a firefighter friend, Zip Sloane, Rieder immediately saw a connection between two baseball legends. Gehrig and Clemente were the only players in history inducted during a special election separate from the one held each year to determine which players should be honored in the Hall of Fame.

Rieder’s enthusiasm for Clemente is a passion shared all over the region. Rieder thinks he knows why.

“There’s no negativity about Roberto Clemente. He is forever young. He’s our shining star.”

(3339 Penn Ave., Lawrenceville. Tues.-Sun., 10 a.m.-5 p.m. $10; children, $5. 412/621-1268)

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module

Edit ModuleShow Tags

Hot Reads

The Best Bars in Pittsburgh Right Now

The Best Bars in Pittsburgh Right Now

Many Pittsburgh bars have solid beer lists, well-mixed cocktails or a bartender who's handy with a shot and a story. We need more than that. What makes these bars the best?
View Pittsburgh & Its People From The 1850s Through Today

View Pittsburgh & Its People From The 1850s Through Today

#pixburgh: A Photographic Experience features images from the Sen. John Heinz History Center vault, which contains close to one million images. The show features a sampling of 400 images from the 1850s through today — including landmarks, fun, folly and floods.
In Concert: What's Next for the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra?

In Concert: What's Next for the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra?

Melia Tourangeau, CEO and president of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, looks to lead the ensemble forward after a discordant strike.
Restaurant Review: Umami in Lawrenceville

Restaurant Review: Umami in Lawrenceville

Umami sets the bar for izakaya openings in Pittsburgh. But its owners still have steps to take to keep raising the standard.
Edit ModuleShow Tags

The 412

AFC Championship: What We’re Betting for a Win

AFC Championship: What We’re Betting for a Win

Rhode Island Monthly and Pittsburgh Magazine are making a friendly wager over the outcome of Sunday’s game, and we can’t wait to taste their quahogs.
See How Chess Made Le’Veon Bell a Better Running Back

See How Chess Made Le’Veon Bell a Better Running Back

Watch the video that reveals Bell’s talents that go beyond the football field.
Viral: Steelers' Most Famous Fight Song Synced to Lights

Viral: Steelers' Most Famous Fight Song Synced to Lights

See how a Leechburg man has transformed his home into the ultimate Pittsburgh Steelers shrine, but we must warn you, the song will be stuck in your head for the rest of the day.
RMU President Named to College Football Playoff Committee

RMU President Named to College Football Playoff Committee

Chris Howard will help decide which four teams will vie each year for college football’s national championship.
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Hot Reads

The Best Bars in Pittsburgh Right Now

The Best Bars in Pittsburgh Right Now

Many Pittsburgh bars have solid beer lists, well-mixed cocktails or a bartender who's handy with a shot and a story. We need more than that. What makes these bars the best?
View Pittsburgh & Its People From The 1850s Through Today

View Pittsburgh & Its People From The 1850s Through Today

#pixburgh: A Photographic Experience features images from the Sen. John Heinz History Center vault, which contains close to one million images. The show features a sampling of 400 images from the 1850s through today — including landmarks, fun, folly and floods.
In Concert: What's Next for the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra?

In Concert: What's Next for the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra?

Melia Tourangeau, CEO and president of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, looks to lead the ensemble forward after a discordant strike.
Restaurant Review: Umami in Lawrenceville

Restaurant Review: Umami in Lawrenceville

Umami sets the bar for izakaya openings in Pittsburgh. But its owners still have steps to take to keep raising the standard.
Daytripping: Have Musket, Will Travel

Daytripping: Have Musket, Will Travel

The rest is history at ye olde Colonia Williamsburg, the former capital of Virginia and now a restored revolutionary war-era village.
Talk of the Tahn: The Consequences of Trespassing

Talk of the Tahn: The Consequences of Trespassing

I snuck into a steel mill. Bethlehem, Pa. I’d been bragging about how big Pittsburgh’s industrial ruins were when a woman in a bar told me, “Bethlehem’s are bigger.” Size matters.
Edit Module
Edit Module

Edit ModuleShow Tags

On the Blogs


AFC Championship: What We’re Betting for a Win

AFC Championship: What We’re Betting for a Win

Rhode Island Monthly and Pittsburgh Magazine are making a friendly wager over the outcome of Sunday’s game, and we can’t wait to taste their quahogs.

Comments


All the foodie news that's fit to blog
Restaurant Industry Fundraiser to Aid Injured Chef

Restaurant Industry Fundraiser to Aid Injured Chef

Zach Behm was chef de cuisine at Cure in Upper Lawrenceville at the time of a July car wreck.

Comments


Not just good stuff. Great stuff.
The Best 6 Places to Get a Cup of Tea in Pittsburgh

The Best 6 Places to Get a Cup of Tea in Pittsburgh

The quiet rise of Pittsburgh's tea scene gives us a few favorite gems.

Comments


The Trendy New East Liberty Hangout ... Primanti's?

The Trendy New East Liberty Hangout ... Primanti's?

The latest outpost of the popular local chain is housed in the former Verde space in Garfield.

Comments


Mike Prisuta's Sports Section

A weekly look at the games people are playing and the people who are playing them.
Tomlin Needs to Be Tomlin Against Brady, Belichick

Tomlin Needs to Be Tomlin Against Brady, Belichick

The Steelers are going to have to attack the game to survive it, to grab it by the throat and choke it to the desired conclusion.

Comments


Style. Design. Goods. Hide your credit card.
Tantalizing Textiles for the Table

Tantalizing Textiles for the Table

Check out the chic decor from Pittsburgh-based artist and designer Janice Nelson.

Comments


The movies that are playing in Pittsburgh –– and, more importantly, whether or not they're worth your time.
Shyamalan's Split is Troubling For the Wrong Reasons

Shyamalan's Split is Troubling For the Wrong Reasons

Reviews of "Split," "20th Century Women" and "The Founder," plus local movie news and notes.

Comments


Everything you need to know about getting married in Pittsburgh today.
Pittsburgh Romance: How Their Love Survived Long-Distance

Pittsburgh Romance: How Their Love Survived Long-Distance

From coast to coast and continent to continent, these couples showed that absence really does make the heart grow fonder.

Comments


Weekly inspiration for your home from the editors of Pittsburgh Magazine
Urban Fit Co. Opening Flagship Shop in Sewickley

Urban Fit Co. Opening Flagship Shop in Sewickley

The locally owned active wear boutique is slated to open in March. Plus, get all the details on Pittsburgh’s new luxury residential real estate firm, Piatt Sotheby’s International Realty.

Comments


The hottest topics in higher education
Pittsburgh Artist’s Work to be Featured at Thiel College

Pittsburgh Artist’s Work to be Featured at Thiel College

Benedict Oddi’s collection “Scouts and Nomads” will be on display in a campus gallery.

Comments