Roberto Clemente

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Roberto Clemente
Roberto Clemente marines shot.jpg
Clemente in 1958
Right fielder
Born: (1934-08-18)August 18, 1934
Barrio San Antón, Carolina, Puerto Rico
Died: December 31, 1972(1972-12-31) (aged 38)
San Juan, Puerto Rico
Batted: Right Threw: Right
MLB debut
April 17, 1955, for the Pittsburgh Pirates
Last MLB appearance
October 3, 1972, for the Pittsburgh Pirates
MLB statistics
Batting average .317
Hits 3,000
Home runs 240
Runs batted in 1,305
Career highlights and awards
Member of the National
Empty Star.svg Empty Star.svg Empty Star.svg Baseball Hall of Fame Empty Star.svg Empty Star.svg Empty Star.svg
Inducted 1973
Vote 92.7% (first ballot)

Roberto Enrique Clemente Walker [lower-alpha 1] (August 18, 1934 – December 31, 1972) was a Puerto Rican professional baseball player. Clemente spent eighteen Major League Baseball (MLB) seasons playing in the National League (NL) as a right fielder for the Pittsburgh Pirates. He was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1973, becoming the first Latin American and Caribbean player to be enshrined. His untimely death established the precedent that, as an alternative to the five-year retirement period, a player who has been deceased for at least six months is eligible for entry into the Hall of Fame.

Clemente was an All-Star for twelve seasons and fifteen All-Star Games.[lower-alpha 2] He was the NL Most Valuable Player in 1966, the NL batting leader in 1961, 1964, 1965, and 1967, and a Gold Glove winner for twelve consecutive seasons from 1961 through 1972. His batting average was over .300 for thirteen seasons and he had 3,000 major league hits during his career. He also played in two World Series championships. Clemente is the first Latin American and Caribbean player to help win a World Series as a starter (1960), to receive an NL MVP Award (1966), and to receive a World Series MVP Award (1971).

Clemente was married in 1964; he and his wife had three children. He was involved in charity work in Latin American and Caribbean countries during the off-seasons, often delivering baseball equipment and food to those in need. On December 31, 1972, he died from an aviation accident while en route to deliver aid to earthquake victims in Nicaragua.

Early years

Clemente was born in Barrio San Antón,[lower-alpha 3] Carolina,[3] Puerto Rico, to Don Melchor Clemente and Luisa Walker. He was the youngest of seven siblings; Clemente had four brothers and two sisters. During his childhood, his father worked as foreman of sugar crops located in the municipality.[4] Because the family's resources were limited, Clemente worked alongside his father in the fields, loading and unloading trucks. Clemente showed interest in baseball early in life and often played against neighboring barrios. He attended Vizcarondo High School in Carolina. During his first year in high school, he was recruited by Roberto Marin to play softball with the Sello Rojo team after Marin saw Clemente playing baseball in barrio San Antón.[5] He was with the team two years as shortstop. Clemente joined Puerto Rico's amateur league when he was 16 years old, playing for the Ferdinand Juncos team, which represented the municipality of Juncos.[6]

Puerto Rican baseball (1952–54)

Clemente's professional baseball career began when Pedrín Zorilla offered Clemente, 18, a contract which he signed on October 9, 1952, with the Cangrejeros de Santurce, a winter league team and franchise of the LBBPR.[7] He was a bench player during his first season but was promoted to the Santurce Cangrejeros ("Crabbers") starting lineup the following season. During this season he hit .288 as the Crabbers leadoff hitter. While Clemente was playing in the LBBPR, the Brooklyn Dodgers offered him a contract with the team's Triple-A subsidiary.[8]

Minor league baseball (1954)

Clemente moved to Montreal to play with the Montreal Royals after signing with the Dodgers on February 19, 1954. The climate and language differences affected him early on, but he received the assistance of his teammate Joe Black, who was able to speak Spanish. Clyde Sukeforth, a scout for the Pittsburgh Pirates, noticed that Clemente was being used as a bench player for the Royals. Sukeforth approached Pittsburgh manager Branch Rickey about the possibility of drafting Clemente.[9] Clemente hit .257 in 87 games that summer. The Pirates made Clemente the first selection of the rookie draft that took place on November 22, 1954.

Major League Baseball (1955–72)

During much of his MLB career, Clemente was commonly referred to as "Bob Clemente" by sportswriters and announcers,[10] and on baseball merchandise such as his annual Topps baseball trading cards (except the early 1950s and 1970s cards);[11] this despite the fact he clearly preferred being called by his given first name.[12] Also, most of his English-speaking teammates, uncomfortable with the foreign-sounding "Roberto", likewise resorted to Bob or Bobby.[13] By the late 1960s, this practice had become the exception, not the rule; still, it was never entirely eradicated, as evidenced on September 30, 1972, the occasion of Clemente's 3,000th and final regular season hit, when Pirates announcer Bob Prince referred to him as "Bobby" while calling the game for KDKA.[14][15] Clemente wore number 21, later retired by the Pirates,[16] representing the number of letters in his full name, Roberto Clemente Walker.[17] \ During the off-season, Clemente played with the Santurce Crabbers in the Puerto Rican baseball winter league, where he was already considered a star.[18] He was traded to the Criollos de Caguas team (Caribbean baseball) and played for them during the 1957–1958 season. The Pirates experienced several difficult seasons through the 1950s, although they did manage a winning season in 1958, their first since 1948.

During the winter season of 1958–59, Clemente did not play winter baseball on the Caguas team; instead, he joined the United States Marine Corps Reserve. He spent his six-month active duty commitment at Parris Island, South Carolina, Camp LeJeune in North Carolina, and Washington, D.C. At Parris Island, Clemente received his basic training with Platoon 346 of the 3rd Recruit Battalion.[19] The rigorous training programs helped Clemente physically; he added strength by gaining ten pounds and said his back troubles had disappeared. He was a Private First Class in the Marine Corps Reserve until September 1964.[20][21][22]

Pittsburgh Pirates, 1950s

Clemente debuted with the Pirates on April 17, 1955 wearing uniform number 13, in the first game of a doubleheader against the Brooklyn Dodgers.[23] At the beginning of his time with the Pirates, he experienced frustration because of racial tension with the local media and some teammates.[24][25] Clemente responded to this by stating, "I don't believe in color."[26] He noted that, during his upbringing, he was taught to never discriminate against someone based on ethnicity.[26]

Clemente was at a double disadvantage, as he was a Latin American and Caribbean player who knew very little English, and was Black, being of African descent. The year before, the Pirates had become the fifth team in the NL and ninth in the major league to break the baseball color line when they hired Curt Roberts who debuted with the team. This was seven years after Jackie Robinson broke baseball's color line with the Dodgers.[27] Upon arriving in Pittsburgh, Roberts befriended Clemente and helped him adjust to life in the major league, as well as to get used to life in the Pittsburgh area.[28]

During the middle of the season, Clemente was involved in a car accident due to a drunk driver; this caused him to miss several games with an injury in his lower back.[29] He finished his rookie season with a .255 batting average, despite confronting trouble hitting certain types of pitches.[30] His defensive skills were highlighted during this season.[31]

Pittsburgh Pirates, 1960's

A statue of Clemente outside of PNC Park in Pittsburgh.

Early in the 1960 season, Clemente led the league with a .353 batting average, and he registered runs batted in (RBIs) in 25 out of 27 games.[32] Clemente's batting average stayed above the .300 mark throughout the course of the campaign. In August, he missed five games as a result of an injury to his chin that he suffered when he crashed into the outfield wall.[33] The Pirates compiled a 95–59 record during the regular season, winning the NL pennant, and defeated the New York Yankees in a seven-game World Series. Clemente batted .310 in the series, hitting safely at least once in every game.[34] His .314 batting average, 16 home runs, and defensive playing during the course of the season had earned him his first spot on the NL All-Star roster as a reserve player, and he replaced Hank Aaron in right field during the 7th and 8th innings in the second All-Star game held that season (two All-Star games were held each season from 1959 through 1962).

During spring training in 1961, following advice from Pirates' batting coach George Sisler,[35] Clemente tried to modify his batting technique by using a heavier bat to slow the speed of his swing. During the 1961 season, Clemente was named the starting NL All-Star right fielder for the first of two All-Star games and went 2 for 4; he hit a triple on his first at-bat and scored the team's first run. With the AL ahead 4–3 in the 10th inning, Clemente hit a double to give the NL a decisive 5–4 win.[36] Clemente started again in right field for the second All-Star game held that season and was 0 for 2, flying and grounding out in the 2nd and 4th innings. That season he received his first Gold Glove Award.

Following the 1961 season, he traveled to Puerto Rico along with Orlando Cepeda, who was a native of Ponce. When both players arrived, they were received by 18,000 people.[37] During this time, he was also involved in managing the Senadores de San Juan of the Puerto Rican League, as well as playing with the team during the major league off-season. During the course of the winter league, Clemente injured his thigh while doing some work at home but wanted to participate in the league's all-star game. He pinch-hit in the game and got a single, but experienced a complication of his injury as a result, and had to undergo surgery shortly after being carried off the playing field;[38]

This condition limited his role with the Pirates in the first half of the 1965 season, during which he batted .257. Although he was inactive for many games, when he returned to the regular starting lineup, he got hits in thirty-three out of thirty-four games and his batting average climbed up to .340.[39] He participated as a pinch hitter and replaced Willie Stargell playing left field during the All-Star Game on July 15. In the 1960s, he batted over .300 every year except 1968, when he hit .291.[40] He was an All-Star every season he played in the 1960s except for the 1968 season (it was the only year in his career after 1959 in which he failed to hit above .300), and he was a Gold Glove winner every season in the 1960s beginning in 1961.[40] He won the NL batting title four times: 1961, 1964, 1965, and 1967, and won the league's MVP Award in 1966, hitting .317 with 29 home runs and 119 RBIs.[40] In 1967, he registered a career high .357 batting average, hit 23 home runs, and batted in 110 runs.[40]

Pittsburgh Pirates, 1970s

External audio
Roberto Clemente's hit number 3,000 on YouTube

The 1970 season was the last one that the Pirates played at Forbes Field before moving to Three Rivers Stadium; for Clemente, abandoning this stadium was an emotional situation. The Pirates' final game at Forbes Field occurred on June 28, 1970. That day, Clemente noted that it was hard to play in a different field, saying, "I spent half my life there."[41] The night of July 24, 1970, was declared "Roberto Clemente Night"; on this day, several Puerto Rican fans traveled to Three Rivers Stadium and cheered Clemente while wearing traditional Puerto Rican indumentary. A ceremony to honor Clemente took place, during which he received a scroll with 300,000 signatures compiled in Puerto Rico, and several thousands of dollars were donated to charity work following Clemente's request.[42][43]

During the 1970 season, Clemente compiled a .352 batting average; the Pirates won the NL East pennant but were subsequently eliminated by the Cincinnati Reds. In the offseason, Clemente experienced some tense situations while he was working as manager of the Senadores and when his father, Melchor Clemente, experienced medical problems and was subjected to a surgery.[44]

In the 1971 season, the Pirates won the NL East, defeated the San Francisco Giants in four games to win the NL pennant, and faced the Baltimore Orioles in the World Series. Baltimore had won 100 games and swept the American League Championship Series, both for the third consecutive year, and were the defending World Series champions. The Orioles won the first two games in the series, but Pittsburgh won the championship in seven games. This marked the second occasion that Clemente helped win a World Series for the Pirates. Over the course of the series, Clemente had a .414 batting average (12 hits in 29 at-bats), performed well defensively, and hit a solo home run in the deciding 2–1 seventh game victory.[45] Following the conclusion of the season, he received the World Series Most Valuable Player Award.

3,000th hit

Though he was frustrated and struggling with injuries, Clemente played in 102 games and hit .312 during his final season in 1972.[45] He also made the annual NL All-Star roster for the 12th time (he played in 14/15 All-Star games)[46][lower-alpha 4] and won his 12th consecutive Gold Glove. On September 30, he hit a double in the 4th inning off Jon Matlack of the New York Mets at Three Rivers Stadium for his 3,000th hit.[47] It was his last regular season at-bat of his career; he played in right field in one more regular season game on October 3 and in the 1972 NLCS playoffs against the Cincinnati Reds.[45] In the NL playoffs that season, he batted .235 as he went 4 for 17. His last game was October 11, 1972 at Cincinnati's Riverfront Stadium in the fifth and final game of the series. He and Bill Mazeroski were the last Pirate players remaining from the 1960 World Series championship team.

Personal life and death

Clemente was married on November 14, 1964 to Vera Zabala at San Fernando Church in Carolina. The couple had three children: Roberto, Jr., born in 1965, Luis Roberto, born in 1966,[48] and Roberto Enrique, born in 1969.[49][50]

Clemente spent much of his time during the off-season involved in charity work. When Managua, the capital city of Nicaragua, was affected by a massive earthquake on Saturday December 23, 1972, Clemente (who had been visiting Managua three weeks before the quake) immediately set to work arranging emergency relief flights.[51] He soon learned, however, that the aid packages on the first three flights had been diverted by corrupt officials of the Somoza government, never reaching victims of the quake.[52] He decided to accompany the fourth relief flight, hoping that his presence would ensure that the aid would be delivered to the survivors.[53] The airplane he chartered for a New Year's Eve flight, a Douglas DC-7 cargo plane, had a history of mechanical problems and subpar flight personnel, and it was overloaded by 4,200 pounds.[54] It crashed into the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Isla Verde, Puerto Rico immediately after takeoff on Sunday December 31, 1972.[55] A few days after the crash, the body of the pilot and part of the fuselage of the plane were found. An empty flight case apparently belonging to Clemente was the only personal item recovered from the plane. Clemente's teammate and close friend Manny Sanguillén was the only member of the Pirates not to attend Roberto's memorial service. The Pirates catcher chose instead to dive into the waters where Clemente's plane had crashed in an effort to find his teammate. The bodies of Clemente and three others who were also on the four-engine plane, were never recovered.[55] Montreal Expos pitcher Tom Walker, then playing winter league ball in Puerto Rico (in a league later named after Clemente), helped Clemente load the plane, but either because of the plane's weight load or because he wanted Walker, who was single, to go enjoy New Year's,[56] Clemente told him not to join him on the flight. Walker's son is Mets (and former Pirates) second baseman Neil Walker.[57]

In an interview for the ESPN documentary series SportsCentury in 2002, Clemente's widow Vera mentioned that Clemente had told her several times that he thought he was going to die young.[27] Indeed, while being asked by a reporter about when he would get his 3,000th career hit in July 1971, Clemente's response was "Well, uh, you never know. I, I, uh, if I'm alive, like I said before, you never know because God tells you how long you're going to be here. So you never know what can happen tomorrow."[58] Clemente's older step brother, Luis, died on December 31, 1954 and his stepsister a few years later.

At the time of his death, Clemente had established several records with the Pirates, including most triples in a game (three) and hits in two consecutive games (ten).[59] Clemente also tied the record for most Gold Glove Awards won among outfielders with twelve, which he shares with Willie Mays.[60] He also is the only player to have hit a walk-off inside-the-park grand slam.[61] He accomplished this historic baseball-event on July 25, 1956 in a 9–8 Pittsburgh win against the Chicago Cubs, at Forbes Field. In addition, he was one of four players to receive ten or more Gold Gloves awards and have a lifetime .317 batting average.

Hall of Fame

On March 30, (1973), the Baseball Writers' Association of America held a special election for the Baseball Hall of Fame. They voted to waive the waiting period for Clemente, due to the circumstances of his death, and posthumously elected him for induction into the Hall of Fame, giving him 393 of the 420 available votes, or 92% of the vote. Clemente's Hall of Fame plaque had originally read "Roberto Walker Clemente". In 2000, the plaque was recast to express his name in the proper Spanish format, "Roberto Clemente Walker".[62]

MLB awards and achievements



Roberto Clemente Award

Since 1971, MLB has presented the Roberto Clemente Award (named the Commissioner's Award in 1971 and 1972) every year to a player with outstanding baseball playing skills who is personally involved in community work. A trophy and a donation check for a charity of the player's choice is presented annually at the World Series. A panel of three makes the final determination of the award recipient from an annual list of selected players.[63][64]

National awards

Clemente was posthumously presented three civilian awards of the United States government from the President of the United States including the first Presidential Citizens Medal:

Citizens Medal Citation

"All who saw Roberto Clemente in action, whether on the diamond or on the front lines of charitable endeavor, are richer for the experience. He stands with the handful of men whose brilliance has transformed the game of baseball into a showcase of skill and spirit, giving universal delight and inspiration. More than that, his selfless dedication to helping those with two strikes against them in life has blessed thousands and set an example for millions. As long as athletes and humanitarians are honored, Roberto Clemente's memory will live; as long as Citizens Medals are presented, each will mean a little more because the first one went to him."

Other awards, honors, namings, and statues

Roberto Clemente Coliseum (since 1973)
Pirates Roberto Clemente.png
Roberto Clemente's number 21 was retired by the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1973.


1961: Harvey Boyle Award from the Pittsburgh chapter of the Baseball Writers Association of America.[68][lower-alpha 6]

1961, 1966 and 1971: Sportsman of the Year Award from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Dapper Dan Club.

1971: Tris Speaker Memorial Award from the Houston chapter of the Baseball Writers Association of America.[70][71] [lower-alpha 7]

1971: Babe Ruth Award from the Baseball Writers Association of America (BBWWA).

1986: Al Abrams Memorial Award from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Dapper Dan Club.[73]

1989: Eduardo Green Award from the government of Nicaragua.[74]

2006: Commissioner's Historic Achievement Award (MLB award): On July 11, 2006 at the Major League Baseball All-Star Game in Pittsburgh, many of the players on both teams wore yellow wristbands with the initials "RCW" in honor of Clemente. The award was presented and accepted at the end of the 4th inning by Clemente's widow.[75] The Commissioner of Baseball Bud Selig stated during the award presentation that "Roberto was a hero in every sense of the term".[75]

Honors, namings, and statues

1973: Clemente's uniform number 21 was retired by the Pittsburgh Pirates on April 6.

1984: The United States Postal Service issued a Roberto Clemente postal stamp on August 17, 1984.[76] The stamp was designed by Juan Lopez-Bonilla and shows Clemente wearing a Pittsburgh Pirates baseball cap with a Puerto Rican flag in the background.

2003: Clemente was inducted into the United States Marine Corps Sports Hall of Fame.[22]

2005: Clemente was named a member of MLB's Latino Legends Team.[77]

2007: Clemente was selected for the All Time Rawlings Gold Glove Team (50th anniversary of the Gold Glove award; 1957).[78]

2010: Clemente was inducted into the Hispanic Heritage Baseball Museum Hall of Fame.

PNC Park, the home ballpark of the Pirates which opened in 2001, includes a right field wall 21 feet (6.4 m) high, in reference to Clemente's uniform number and his normal fielding position during his years with the Pirates.[79] The Pirates originally erected a statue in memory of Clemente at Three Rivers Stadium, an honor previously awarded to Honus Wagner. The statue was moved to PNC Park when it opened, and stands at the corner near the Roberto Clemente Bridge. An identical smaller statue was unveiled in Newark, New Jersey's Branch Brook Park in 2012.[80] The team considered naming PNC Park after Clemente, but despite popular sentiment the team chose instead to sell the naming rights to locally based PNC Financial Services, with the bridge being renamed after him considered a compromise.[81]

The coliseum in San Juan, Puerto Rico was named the Roberto Clemente Coliseum in 1973; two baseball parks are in Carolina, the professional one, Roberto Clemente Stadium, and the Double-A. There is also the Escuela de los Deportes (School of Sports) that has the Double-A baseball park. Today, this sports complex is called Ciudad Deportiva Roberto Clemente.[82] The Pittsburgh Pirates is one of the most popular baseball teams in Puerto Rico due to Clemente.[83]

In Pittsburgh, the 6th Street Bridge was renamed in his memory.[84] The City of Pittsburgh maintains Roberto Clemente Memorial Park along North Shore Drive in the city's North Side which includes a bronze relief by sculptor Eleanor Milleville. In 2007, the Roberto Clemente Museum opened in the Lawrenceville section of Pittsburgh.[85] Near the old Forbes Field where he began his pro career the city of Pittsburgh has renamed a street in his honor.

Champion thoroughbred horse Roberto, bred in 1968 and owned by then-Pirates owner John W. Galbreath, was named for Clemente. The horse would go on to become a champion in Britain and Ireland, and in June 1973, following Clemente's passing, won the Group I Coronation Stakes at Epsom.

The state of New York opened Roberto Clemente State Park in The Bronx in 1973.[86] Some schools, such as Roberto Clemente High School in Chicago the Roberto Clemente Charter School in Allentown, Pennsylvania, Roberto Clemente Academy in Detroit, Roberto Clemente Elementary School and New Roberto Clemente Middle School in Paterson, New Jersey were named in his honor.[87] There is also a Roberto Clemente Stadium in Masaya, Nicaragua, as well as a middle school in Germantown, Maryland, called Roberto W. Clemente Middle School. In addition, he is the namesake for the Roberto Clemente Little League in Branch Brook Park in Newark, New Jersey, the Roberto Clemente Independent School of the Arts (IS 195) in New York City, and Clemente Leadership Academy in The Hill neighborhood of New Haven, Connecticut.[88]

In 1999, Clemente ranked number 20 on The Sporting News' list of the 100 Greatest Baseball Players, the highest-ranking Latin American and Caribbean player on the list.[89] Later that year, Clemente was nominated as a finalist for the Major League Baseball All-Century Team.[90]

During the 2003 and 2004 MLB seasons, the Montreal Expos (who at the time were owned by MLB due to an aborted contraction attempt)[91] played 22 home games each season at Hiram Bithorn Stadium in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Although the Pirates played their annual road series against the Expos in Montreal for 2003, the two teams did meet in San Juan for a four-game series in 2004, the last series the Expos hosted in San Juan before moving to Washington, D.C. and becoming the Washington Nationals the following season. During one of those games, in a tribute to Clemente, both teams wore throwback uniforms from the 1969 season, the Expos first season and, at the time, Clemente's 15th with the Pirates. The Pirates throwbacks, replicas of what Clemente wore from 1957–early 1970, were similar to their then-current uniforms, except that the road jerseys they wore for the game read "Pirates" instead of "Pittsburgh", and last names were absent from the backs of the jerseys. The Expos won the four-game series three games to one.[83][92][93]

Clemente's #21 remains active in MLB and is worn by multiple players. Sammy Sosa wore #21 throughout his career as a tribute to his childhood hero.[94] The number is unofficially retired in the Puerto Rico Baseball League. While the topic of retiring #21 throughout Major League Baseball like Jackie Robinson's #42 has been broached, and supported by groups such as Hispanics Across America, Jackie Robinson's daughter disagrees, believing that MLB should honor him another way.[95]

In June 2013, at aforementioned Clemente Park in The Bronx, a statue of the Hall of Fame icon, sculpted by Cuban-American Maritza Hernandez, was installed. It depicts Clemente doffing his cap after notching his 3,000th hit on Sept. 30, 1972.[96]

Biographies and documentaries

Clemente's life has been the subject of numerous books, articles and documentaries:

1993: "Roberto Clemente: A Video Tribute to One of Baseball's Greatest Players and a True Humanitarian", documentary directed by Rich Domich and Michael Kostel, narrated by Raul Julia and Hector Elizondo.

2006: Clemente: The Passion and grace of Baseball's Last Hero by David Maraniss.

2008: "Roberto Clemente": One-hour biography as part of the Public Broadcasting Service history series, American Experience which premiered on April 21, 2008.[97] The film is directed by Bernardo Ruiz, narrated by Jimmy Smits and features interviews with Vera Clemente, Orlando Cepeda and George F. Will.[97] The production received an ALMA Award.

2010: Chasing 3000 a movie based on a true story of two kids named Mickey (played by Ray Liotta, Trevor Morgan, and Blake Woodyard) and Roger (played by Jay Karnes, Rory Culkin, and Nicholas Brady) as they go on an adventure to travel across the United States to see Clemente's 3,000th hit.

2011: 21: The Story of Roberto Clemente was released, a graphic novel by Wilfred Santiago (published by Fantagraphics) detailing Clemente's life in a comic-book format. In their USA Today Magazine article titled "Saluting Pittsburgh's Finest" Richard E. Vatz and Lee S. Weinberg said Clemente was "arguably the best in the history of the game" and stated that "understanding the magnitude of Roberto Clemente requires an appreciation of the gestalt of his presence, which was greater than the sum of his statistics".[98]

2011: DC-7: The Roberto Clemente Story, a bilingual musical about Clemente's life, had its world premiere in November 2011 with a full house at the Teatro SEA in Manhattan[99] before moving to New York's Puerto Rican Traveling Theatre for a successful seven-week run.[100] The show ran from December 6 through December 16, 2012 at Puerto Rico's Teatro Francisco Arrivi.

2013: "Baseball's Last Hero: 21 Clemente Stories," the first feature dramatic film on Clemente's life was finished by California filmmaker and Pittsburgh native Richard Rossi.[101] Rossi returned to Pittsburgh to premiere his film on Roberto Clemente's birthday, August 18, 2013 [102][103][104] before exhibiting the film in New York, other cities, and DVD.[105][106]


Richard Rossi (center) at screening of his Clemente film at Vogue Theater in San Francisco. Pictured with him are two fans of the film from Nicaragua whose families were saved by Clemente's relief efforts.

The feature film Baseball's Last Hero: 21 Clemente Stories was filmed by Richard Rossi.[107] One of the scenes in the movie features a conversation Clemente has with a nun.

The scene spurred several people to pitch the Pope for Clemente's canonization as a saint. Rossi, a former evangelical minister, received several messages of support, including a letter showing papal support from Pope Francis in starting the process [108] [109][110][111][112][113] from the Vatican through the Apostolic Nunciature in Washington, D.C. and from Archbishop Jose Horacio Gomez of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.[114][115][116][117][118][119][120] "I've never thought of him in terms of being a saint,” said Pirates second baseman Neil Walker, a devout Roman Catholic whose father was a teammate of Clemente. “But he's somebody who lived his life serving others, really. So if it would happen, I wouldn't be terribly surprised by it.”[121]

See also


  1. Both a 1955 interview with Clemente [1] and a 1994 interview with his wife Vera [2] confirm that the fullest version of Clemente's name included the middle name Enrique. The discrepancy in spelling – 1994's 'Enrique' vs. 1955's E-n-r-i-c-q-u-e (as allegedly spelled out for the interviewer by Clemente) – is presumably due to a misunderstanding on the part of the Post-Gazette's non-Spanish-speaking interviewer, likely mistaking the word "Si" for the letter c.
  2. MLB held two All-Star Games each season from 1959 through 1962.
  3. Not to be confused with the better known barrio San Antón in Ponce, Puerto Rico.
  4. MLB held two All-Star Games each season from 1959 through 1962.
  5. MLB held two Major League Baseball All-Star Games each season from 1959 through 1962.
  6. Presented annually to Pittsburgh's outstanding sports figure.[69]
  7. It was Clemente's acceptance speech for this award that produced his oft-cited quote, "If you have an opportunity to accomplish something that will make things better for someone coming behind you, and you don't do that, you are wasting your time on this earth."[72]


  1. Abrams, Al. "Sidelight on Sports: A Baseball Star is Born". The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. June 7, 1955. Retrieved 2015-07-19.
  2. O'Brien, Jim (1994). "Vera Clemente". Remember Roberto: Clemente Recalled by Teammates, Family, Friends and Fans. Pittsburgh, PA: James P. O'Brien Publishing. p. 55. ISBN 0-916114-14-7. Retrieved 2015-07-19.
  3. Baseball Hall of Famers: Roberto Clemente. Robert Kingsbury. Page 7. 2003. Retrieved 27 September 2013.
  4. Paul Roberto Walker (1988). "The way of the Jibaro". Pride of Puerto Rico: The life of Roberto Clemente. United States: Harcourt Brace & Company. p. 3. ISBN 0-15-307557-0. Roberto's father,Don Melchor Clemente, worked as a foreman in the sugar fields.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. Paul Rober Walker (1988). "Where Are You Going, Momen?". Pride of Puerto Rico: The life of Roberto Clemente. United States: Harcourt Brace & Company. p. 20. ISBN 0-15-307557-0. For the next two years, Clemente played for the Sello Rojo softball team.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. Paul Rober Walker (1988). "Where Are You Going, Momen?". Pride of Puerto Rico: The life of Roberto Clemente. United States: Harcourt Brace & Company. p. 20. ISBN 0-15-307557-0. When he was sixteen, he played for the Ferdinand Juncos team in the Puerto Rican amateur league.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. Paul Rober Walker (1988). "Tell the Man I Will Sign". Pride of Puerto Rico: The life of Roberto Clemente. United States: Harcourt Brace & Company. p. 25. ISBN 0-15-307557-0. Well, Marin", said señor Zorilla, "we can give him $400 bonus and maybe $ 40.00 a week until he learns to wear a uniform.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. Paul Rober Walker (1988). "Wearing the Uniform". Pride of Puerto Rico: The life of Roberto Clemente. United States: Harcourt Brace & Company. p. 33. ISBN 0-15-307557-0. Roberto", said Pedrin Zorilla, "I have spoken with Mr. Campanis. The Dodgers would like to sign you to a contract with their Triple-A team in Montreal. They will pay you a signing bonus of $10,000 and a salary of $5,000 for the year<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. Paul Rober Walker (1988). "It's For Your Own Good". Pride of Puerto Rico: The life of Roberto Clemente. United States: Harcourt Brace & Company. p. 41. ISBN 0-15-307557-0. I noticed you haven't been playing Clemente much." Sukeforth smiled across the dinner table at Max Macon. The two men had known each other for years. There was no sense in trying to fool each other. "Well, I don’t care if you never play him" continued the Pittsburgh scout. "We're going to finish last, and we're going to draft him number one.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. Search results for "Bob Clemente". Google News Archive. Retrieved 15 March 2015.
  11. 1957 Topps: Bob Clemente. Retrieved 15 March 2015. See also:
  12. Markusen, Bruce (1996). "Chapter 10: Fallback". Roberto Clemente: The Greatest. Champaign, IL: Sports Publishing LLC, 1998. p. 116. ISBN 1571672443. Retrieved 15 March 2015.
  13. Rice, Dona. Rice, William (2012). Roberto Clemente. Huntington Beach, CA: Teacher Created Materials. p. 14. ISBN 978-1-4333-3683-6. Retrieved 15 March 2015.
  14. Cohn, Bob. "40 years ago Sunday, Clemente notched 3,000th and final hit". TribLive. September 29, 2012. Retrieved 15 March 2015.
  15. "Roberto Clemente's 3,000th Hit". YouTube. Retrieved 15 March 2015.
  16. "Pirates Retired Numbers". Pittsburgh Pirates. Retrieved October 2, 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  17. Martinez, Hiram (December 31, 2012). "ESPN Internet Ventures". ESPN. Retrieved October 2, 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  18. Paul Rober Walker (1988). "I play like Roberto Clemente". Pride of Puerto Rico: The life of Roberto Clemente. United States: Harcourt Brace & Company. ISBN 0-15-307557-0. Once again he was playing for the Santurce Crabbers. In the winter league he was an established star.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  19. "Clemente, The Passion and Grace of Baseball's Last Hero"; By: David Maraniss; p. 88; Simon & Schuster; ISBN 978-0-7432-1781-1
  20. Clemente to Start Six-Month Marine Corps Hitch, October 4,. The Sporting News. September 24, 1958. p. 7.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  21. Buc Flyhawk Now Marine Rookie. The Sporting News. November 19, 1958. p. 13.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  22. 22.0 22.1 "Marine Corps Sports Hall of Fame: Roberto Clemente". Retrieved 2007-12-17.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  23. Paul Robert Walker (1988). "I play like Roberto Clemente". Pride of Puerto Rico: The life of Roberto Clemente. United States: Harcourt Brace & Company. ISBN 0-15-307557-0. It was Sunday, April 17, 1955, and the Pittsburgh Pirates were playing the first game of a double-header against the Brooklyn Dodgers.[...] For Roberto Clemente it was his first time at bat in the major leagues.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  24. Paul Rober Walker (1988). "I play like Roberto Clemente". Pride of Puerto Rico: The life of Roberto Clemente. United States: Harcourt Brace & Company. ISBN 0-15-307557-0. Even on his own team, some of the players made fun of him and called him a "nigger." Roberto grew furious at their insults.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  25. Paul Rober Walker (1988). "I play like Roberto Clemente". Pride of Puerto Rico: The life of Roberto Clemente. United States: Harcourt Brace & Company. ISBN 0-15-307557-0. There were other insults as well. In the newspapers, the writers called him a "Puerto Rican hot dog." When they quoted the things he said they exaggerated his accent.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  26. 26.0 26.1 Paul Rober Walker (1988). "I play like Roberto Clemente". Pride of Puerto Rico: The life of Roberto Clemente. United States: Harcourt Brace & Company. ISBN 0-15-307557-0. "I don’t believe in color," Roberto said. "I believe in people. I always respect everyone and thanks to God my mother and my father taught me never to hate, never to dislike someone based on their color.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  27. 27.0 27.1 SportsCentury: Roberto Clemente
  28. Bouchette, Ed (May 15, 1987). "Roberts Bucs' forgotten pioneer". Pittsburgh Post–Gazette. pp. 19, 22. Retrieved March 10, 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  29. Paul Rober Walker (1988). "I play like Roberto Clemente". Pride of Puerto Rico: The life of Roberto Clemente. United States: Harcourt Brace & Company. ISBN 0-15-307557-0. To make matters worse, Roberto had to sit out many games because of pain in his lower back. During the winter, a drunken driver had rammed into his car at sixty miles per hour.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  30. Paul Rober Walker (1988). "I play like Roberto Clemente". Pride of Puerto Rico: The Life of Roberto Clemente. United States: Harcourt Brace & Company. ISBN 0-15-307557-0. Roberto continued to struggle at the plate throughout his rookie season, finally finishing with a .255 average.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  31. Paul Rober Walker (1988). "I play like Roberto Clemente". Pride of Puerto Rico: The life of Roberto Clemente. United States: Harcourt Brace & Company. ISBN 0-15-307557-0. In the outfield, however, he quickly established himself as an outstanding performer.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  32. Paul Rober Walker (1988). "Beat 'Em, Bucs!". Pride of Puerto Rico: The life of Roberto Clemente. United States: Harcourt Brace & Company. p. 63. ISBN 0-15-307557-0. In May, while the Pirates were fighting the San Francisco Giants for first place, Roberto drove in 25 runs in 27 games. By the end of the month he was leading the league with a batting average of .353 and the Pirates were ahead of the Giants by one and a half games.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  33. Paul Rober Walker (1988). "Beat 'Em, Bucs!". Pride of Puerto Rico: The life of Roberto Clemente. United States: Harcourt Brace & Company. p. 64. ISBN 0-15-307557-0. Roberto was rushed to the hospital in an ambulance. The doctors stitched up his jaw and he sat out the next five games waiting for it to heal<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  34. Associated Press. "Clemente: Baseball's Biggest Bargain". The Chicago Tribune. January 2, 1973.
  35. Paul Rober Walker (1988). "Beat 'Em, Bucs!". Pride of Puerto Rico: The life of Roberto Clemente. United States: Harcourt Brace & Company. p. 74. ISBN 0-15-307557-0. Now, in the spring of 1961, he made another improvement. He began using a heavier bat to slow down his swing and make better contact with the ball.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  36. Paul Rober Walker (1988). "Beat 'Em, Bucs!". Pride of Puerto Rico: The life of Roberto Clemente. United States: Harcourt Brace & Company. p. 77. ISBN 0-15-307557-0. Then he brought his bat around and smashed a line drive to right field. As Roberto raced for first, Willie Mays rounded third and headed for home. The National League had won by a score of 5-4!<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  37. Paul Rober Walker (1988). "Beat 'Em, Bucs!". Pride of Puerto Rico: The life of Roberto Clemente. United States: Harcourt Brace & Company. pp. 78–79. ISBN 0-15-307557-0. When the plane landed, Roberto and Cepeda received a hero's welcome. Eighteen thousand people stood cheering on the side of the road as they were driven from the airport to Sixto Escobar Stadium.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  38. Paul Rober Walker (1988). "It Is My Life". Pride of Puerto Rico: The life of Roberto Clemente. United States: Harcourt Brace & Company. p. 85. ISBN 0-15-307557-0. The injury had not affected his swing, and he smashed a hard line drive to right field, but as he limped to first base, his leg collapsed beneath him. He was rushed to the hospital, and a few days later, the doctors cut open his leg to drain a pool of blood in his thigh.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  39. Paul Rober Walker (1988). "It Is My Life". Pride of Puerto Rico: The life of Roberto Clemente. United States: Harcourt Brace & Company. pp. 88–89. ISBN 0-15-307557-0. Clemente was back and so were the Pirates. Roberto hit safely in 33 out of 34 games, raising his average all the way up to .340.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  40. 40.0 40.1 40.2 40.3 "ESPN - Roberto Clemente MLB Career Stats - Major League Baseball". ESPN. Retrieved 2007-12-09.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  41. Paul Rober Walker (1988). "I Don't Have The Words". Pride of Puerto Rico: The life of Roberto Clemente. United States: Harcourt Brace & Company. p. 106. ISBN 0-15-307557-0. On June 28, 1970, the Pittsburgh Pirates played their last game at Forbes Field. For Roberto it was an emotional moment. "I spent half my life there", he said.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  42. Paul Rober Walker (1988). "I Don't Have The Words". Pride of Puerto Rico: The life of Roberto Clemente. United States: Harcourt Brace & Company. p. 107. ISBN 0-15-307557-0. A young Puerto Rican businessman named Juan Jiménez presented Roberto with a scroll containing 300,000 signatures from the people of Puerto Rico.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  43. Paul Rober Walker (1988). "I Don't Have The Words". Pride of Puerto Rico: The life of Roberto Clemente. United States: Harcourt Brace & Company. p. 108. ISBN 0-15-307557-0. At Roberto's request, thousands of dollars were donated to help the crippled children at Pittsburgh's Children's Hospital.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  44. Paul Rober Walker (1988). "I Don't Have The Words". Pride of Puerto Rico: The life of Roberto Clemente. United States: Harcourt Brace & Company. pp. 111–112. ISBN 0-15-307557-0. That winter, Roberto had other concerns as well. Don Melchor fell seriously ll and had to have surgery.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
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  49. Richman, Milton. "Sports Parade: No Camp, No Disneyland". The Reading Eagle. February 2, 1973. Retrieved 2015-06-28. "'If Roberto was here, he would be planning to go to Florida for spring training now,' says his attractive, dark-haired widow, Vera Clemente, who has been caring for her three small sons, Roberto Jr., 7, Luis Roberto, 6, and Roberto Enrique, 3, since the tragedy."
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External links

Preceded by
Eddie Mathews
Pete Rose
Ron Santo
Major League Player of the Month
May 1960
May 1967
July 1969
Succeeded by
Lindy McDaniel
Hank Aaron
Willie Davis