David Bednar became acquainted with the life, the legend of Roberto Clemente from a young age. He learned that the history of baseball in Pittsburgh cannot be told without mention of Clemente. So, when Bednar was nominated for the 2022 Roberto Clemente Award, he understood what it meant for his name to be mentioned alongside The Great One.
“It's humbling,” Bednar said. “Just to be a part of that in the same breath, it's truly humbling and it's really an honor.”
Born in Pittsburgh and raised in Mars, Pa., Bednar possesses memories of seeing Clemente’s statue, crossing the Clemente Bridge, discovering Clemente’s legacy -- as a player, as a human being. Bednar recalled visiting the Clemente Museum for the first time in 2021, a trip that provided him with a richer appreciation of Clemente’s impact.
“[He] really cemented his legacy not only on the field, but off the field as a person and a humanitarian,” Bednar said. “Growing up, you always had an extra emphasis on who he was and the history.”
Aside from his time in the Padres' system, Bednar has lived in Pittsburgh his entire life. He knows this community. He’s embedded in this community. That relationship has been a driving force behind his desire to give back.
He’s participated in a variety of Pirates Charities efforts, from donating equipment to his old elementary school to participating in the Miracle League Fantasy Camp to showing Kayden, a 3-year-old boy battling Leukemia, around PNC Park. He and his father, Andy, worked with the Pirates Youth Baseball team to host camps for more than 100 kids over the summer, donating the funds to Mars High School. In the offseason, Bednar, alongside members of the Steelers and Penguins, participated in a Thanksgiving Dinner distribution event.
Bednar knows first-hand the type of impact a Major League player can leave on the next generation.
“Growing up and being a fan and looking whenever all those guys came and were around the community meant so much,” Bednar said. “Now to be in those shoes and be able to give back any way I can, no matter big or small, just knowing it does make an impact and makes a difference on somebody. Just experiencing this fanbase first-hand, growing up being a part of it and now feeling it, it's a really special place. I'm just really fortunate to be in this position I am.”
Bednar specifically recalls a Little League day in which two Pirates players made guest appearances. He couldn’t remember specifically who attended -- "It's going to make me mad that I can't remember who exactly it was” -- but the impact that those two Buccos made on Bednar continues to stick with him.
“I just remember being so pumped up,” Bednar said. “It didn't even matter who it was. It was just the fact that they were a Pirate and came down and took the time to come to our opening day, which was so cool. Now to be on the other side of it now, you just kind of realize how much it does mean to those kids and how special it is. It's a pinch-me moment every single day, and I just try to make the most out of it."