Roberto Clemente

This name uses Spanish naming customs: the first or paternal family name is Clemente and the second or maternal family name is Walker.
Roberto Clemente

Clemente in the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve, 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
Baseball Hall of Fame
Inducted 1973
Vote 92.7% (first ballot)

Roberto Enrique Clemente Walker[lower-alpha 1] (Spanish pronunciation: [roˈβeɾto enˈrike kleˈmente (g)walˈkeɾ]; August 18, 1934 – December 31, 1972) was a Puerto Rican professional baseball player. Clemente spent 18 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 in a plane crash while en route to deliver aid to earthquake victims in Nicaragua.

Early years

Roberto Clemente was born in Barrio San Antón,[lower-alpha 3] Carolina,[3] Puerto Rico, to Don Melchor Clemente and Doña 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 Vizcarrondo High School in Carolina. During his first year in high school, he was recruited by Roberto Marín to play softball with the Sello Rojo team after Marín 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 one of the team's Triple-A affiliates.[8]

Minor league baseball (1954)

After signing with the Dodgers on February 19, 1954, Clemente moved to Montreal to play with the Royals. Affected early on by both climate and language differences, Clemente received assistance from bilingual teammates such as infielder Chico Fernandez and pitchers Tommy Lasorda [lower-alpha 4] and Joe Black.[9]

In fact, it was Black who was the original target of the Pittsburgh Pirates' June 1, 1954 scouting trip to Richmond.[10][11][12] Conducted by pitching coach Clyde Sukeforth, the mission's focus quickly shifted when he witnessed Clemente's throwing and batting prowess in pre-game drills.[11] Nonetheless, Clemente barely played during Sukeforth's three-day visit. With his suspicions further aroused by manager Max Macon's dismissive remarks ("You mean you want him?!")[13] and the fact that Clemente took batting practice with the pitchers rather than his fellow position players, Sukeforth made inquiries and soon ascertained Clemente's status as an unprotected bonus baby.[14] Before leaving Richmond, he informed Macon that such subterfuge was pointless since the Pirates, well on their way to a fourth consecutive last-place finish, would thereby secure first pick in the winter draft.[15]

Evidently, Macon took Sukeforth at his word; scarcely had the Pirate scout departed when, on June 4,[10] Clemente started his first game in over a month. In the course of two days and three games (two of which he started), Clemente amassed ten at-bats, two more than in the previous thirty games combined. Yet just as abruptly, the moment was over and he was back to riding the bench, this time for almost two months.[12]

Clemente's extra inning, walk-off home run of July 25, 1954, the first home run of his North American baseball career,[16][lower-alpha 5] was hit in his first at-bat after entering the game as a defensive replacement, ending a nearly two-month-long drought starting on June 6 (17 appearances, 6 starts, and 24 at-bats in 60 games).[12] From this point forward, Clemente's playing time increased significantly; he started every subsequent game against a left-handed starting pitcher, finishing the season with a batting average of .257 in 87 games.[17] Clemente would complement his July 25 walk-off homer with another on September 5,[16] as well as a walk-off outfield assist (cutting down the potential tying run at the plate) on August 18, his 20th birthday.[18] As promised, 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,[19] and on baseball merchandise such as his annual Topps baseball trading cards (except the early 1950s and 1970s cards);[20] this despite the fact he clearly preferred being called by his given first name.[21] Also, most of his English-speaking teammates, uncomfortable with the foreign-sounding "Roberto", likewise resorted to Bob or Bobby.[22] 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.[23][24] Clemente wore number 21, later retired by the Pirates,[25] representing the number of letters in his full name, Roberto Clemente Walker.[26]

During the off-seasons (except the 1958-59, 1962–63, 1965–66, 1968–69, 1971–72, and 1972-73 seasons), Clemente played professionally (and sometimes managed the San Juan team) for the Santurce Crabbers, Criollos de Caguas, and San Juan Senadores in the Puerto Rican baseball winter league, where he was considered a star.[27]

In September 1958, Clemente joined the United States Marine Corps Reserve. He went on to serve 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 recruit training with Platoon 346 of the 3rd Recruit Battalion.[28] The rigorous Marine Corps training programs helped Clemente physically; he added strength by gaining ten pounds and said his back troubles (caused by being in a 1954 auto accident, see below) had disappeared. He was a private first class in the Marine Corps Reserve until September 1964.[29][30][31]

Pittsburgh Pirates, 1950s

The Pirates experienced several difficult seasons through the 1950s, although they did manage a winning season in 1958, their first since 1948.

Clemente debuted with the Pirates on April 17, 1955 wearing uniform number 13, in the first game of a doubleheader against the Brooklyn Dodgers.[32] At the beginning of his time with the Pirates, he experienced frustration because of racial tension with the local media and some teammates.[33][34] Clemente responded to this by stating, "I don't believe in color."[35] He noted that, during his upbringing, he was taught to never discriminate against someone based on ethnicity.[35]

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 leagues 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.[36] 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.[37]

Clemente had to sit out several games during his rookie season, due to a back injury suffered the previous winter in Puerto Rico, when a drunk driver rammed into his car at an intersection.[38] He finished his rookie season with a .255 batting average, despite confronting trouble hitting certain types of pitches.[39] His defensive skills were highlighted during this season.[40]

Pittsburgh Pirates, 1960s

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.[41] 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.[42] 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.[43] 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, Clemente tried to modify his batting technique by using a heavier bat to slow the speed of his swing.[44] During the 1961 season, Clemente was named the starting NL 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, then drove in the second with a sacrifice fly. With the AL ahead 4–3 in the 10th inning, he teamed with fellow future HOFers Hank Aaron, Willie Mays, and Frank Robinson to engineer a come-from-behind 5-4 NL victory, culminating in Clemente's walk-off single off knuckleballer Hoyt Wilhelm.[45] 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.[46] 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;[47]

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.[48] 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.[49] 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.[49] 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.[49] In 1967, he registered a career high .357 batting average, hit 23 home runs, and batted in 110 runs.[49]

Pittsburgh Pirates, 1970s

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."[50] 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 attire. 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.[51][52]

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. During the offseason, Roberto Clemente experienced some tense situations while he was working as manager of the Senadores and when his father, Melchor Clemente, experienced medical problems and underwent surgery.[53]

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.[54] Following the conclusion of the season, he received the World Series Most Valuable Player Award.

3,000th hit

Roberto Clemente's number 21 was retired by the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1973.

Though he was frustrated and struggling with injuries, Clemente played in 102 games and hit .312 during his final season in 1972.[54] He also made the annual NL All-Star roster for the 12th time (he played in 14/15 All-Star games)[55][lower-alpha 6] 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.[56] 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 against the Cincinnati Reds.[54] 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,[57] and Roberto Enrique, born in 1969.[58][59]

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 December 23, 1972, Clemente (who had been visiting Managua three weeks before the quake) immediately set to work arranging emergency relief flights.[60] 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.[61] He decided to accompany the fourth relief flight, hoping that his presence would ensure that the aid would be delivered to the survivors.[62] 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 was overloaded by 4,200 pounds.[63] It crashed into the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Isla Verde, Puerto Rico immediately after takeoff on December 31, 1972.[64] 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.[64] 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,[65] Clemente told him not to join him on the flight. Walker's son is current Mets second baseman and former Pirate Neil Walker.[66]

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.[36] Indeed, while being asked by broadcaster and future fellow Hall of Famer Richie Ashburn in July 1971 during the All-Star Game activities about when he would get his 3,000 career hit, 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."[67] Clemente's older stepbrother, 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).[68] He won 12 Gold Glove Awards and shares the record of most won among outfielders with Willie Mays.[69][70] On July 25, 1956, in a 9–8 Pittsburgh win against the Chicago Cubs, Clemente hit the only walk-off inside-the-park grand slam in professional baseball history.[71][72]

Hall of Fame

On March 20, 1973,[73] 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 out of 420 available votes, for 92% of the vote.

Clemente's Hall of Fame plaque originally had his name as "Roberto Walker Clemente" instead of the proper Spanish format "Roberto Clemente Walker"; the plaque was recast in 2000 to correct the error.[74]

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.[75][76]

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


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.[89] 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. A US Post Office in Clemente's hometown Carolina, Puerto Rico was named after him.[31]

2005: Clemente was named a member of MLB's Latino Legends Team.[90]

2007: Clemente was selected for the All Time Rawlings Gold Glove Team (50th anniversary of the Gold Glove award; 1957).[91]

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

2015: Clemente was enshrined in the Caribbean Baseball 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.[92] 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.[93] 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.[94]

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.[95] The Pittsburgh Pirates is one of the most popular baseball teams in Puerto Rico due to Clemente.[96]

In Pittsburgh, the 6th Street Bridge was renamed in his memory.[97] 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.[98] 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.[99] 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.[100] 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.[101]

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.[102] Later that year, Clemente was nominated as a finalist for the Major League Baseball All-Century Team.[103]

During the 2003 and 2004 MLB seasons, the Montreal Expos (who at the time were owned by MLB due to an aborted contraction attempt)[104] 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.[96][105][106]

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.[107] 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.[108]

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 September 30, 1972.[109]

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 Raúl Juliá and Héctor 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.[110] The film is directed by Bernardo Ruiz, narrated by Jimmy Smits and features interviews with Vera Clemente, Orlando Cepeda and George F. Will.[110] 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".[111]

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[112] before moving to New York's Puerto Rican Traveling Theatre for a successful seven-week run.[113] 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.[114] Rossi returned to Pittsburgh to premiere his film on Roberto Clemente's birthday, August 18, 2013 [115][116][117] before exhibiting the film in New York, other cities, and DVD.[118][119]


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.[120] One of the scenes in the movie features a conversation Clemente has with a nun.[121]

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 [122][123][124][125][126][127] from the Vatican through the Apostolic Nunciature in Washington, D.C. and from Archbishop Jose Horacio Gomez of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.[128][129][130][131][132][133][134] "I've never thought of him in terms of being a saint", said former 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." [128][135]

See also


  1. Both a 1955 interview with Clemente [1] and a 1994 interview with his wife Vera [2] confirm that Clemente's full name includes 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. To what extent Lasorda actually assisted Clemente is open to debate. Fellow Royals hurler Joe Black categorically denies Lasorda's characterization of Clemente as unable to "speak one word of English":
    "I saw him on the field and I said, ‘Tommy, why did you tell that story?’ He said, ‘What do you mean?’ I said, ‘One: Clemente didn’t hang out with you. Second: Clemente speaks English.' [...] Puerto Rico, you know, is part of the United States. So, over there, youngsters do have the privilege of taking English in classrooms. He wouldn’t give a speech like Shakespeare, but he knew how to order breakfast and eggs. He knew how to say, ‘It's a good day,’ ‘Let's play,’ or ‘Why I don’t play?’ He could say, ‘Let's go to the movies.’"[9]
  5. Oddly enough, the second home run of Clemente's North American career, and the only other he hit that season, was hit under almost identical conditions: an extra-inning, walk-off home run,[16] hit in his first at-bat after entering the game as a defensive replacement, against a right-handed pitcher.[12]
  6. MLB held two All-Star Games each season from 1959 through 1962.
  7. MLB held two Major League Baseball All-Star Games each season from 1959 through 1962.
  8. Presented annually to Pittsburgh's outstanding sports figure.[81]
  9. 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."[86]


  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, Pennsylvania: James P. O'Brien Publishing. p. 54. 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.
  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.
  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.
  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.
  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
  9. 1 2 Markusen, Bruce (1998). "Hidden in Montreal". Champaign, Il: Sports Publishing LLC. pp. 19-20. ISBN 1-58261-312-5. Retrieved 2016-01-14.
  10. 1 2 McGowan, Lloyd. "Macon’s Royals Register: Top Richmond A la Grant – Amoros Hits". The Montreal Star. June 2, 1954. "Clyde Sukeforth, once a Royal General, said the Amoros homer came off a high fastball. [...] Joe Black hadn’t reported from the Dodgers up to last night. ." See also:
    • McGowan, Lloyd. "Black, Roebuck Shelled by Richmond Artillery". The Montreal Star. June 3, 1954. "Clyde Sukeforth, in the stands again, thought Black looked real good, figures him to win for the Royals – but Sukey can’t get over Roebuck's wildness."
    • McGowan, Lloyd. "Lehmann Lacks Usual Control As Royals Bow to Richmond". The Montreal Star. June 4, 1954. "It was midnight when Max Macon and Clyde Sukeforth came into the lobby of the hotel. They weren’t quite in complete accord as to why the Royals dropped another game to the Virginians 7-2."
    • McGowan, Lloyd. "Bits From The Batter's Box". The Montreal Star. June 5, 1954. "Clyde Sukeforth’s attendance at the series between the Royals and Virginians was the cause of much conjecturing … Sukey managed the Royals when Max Macon played on the club a dozen years ago."
  11. 1 2 Biederman, Les. "Clemente, Early Buc Ace, Says He’s Better in Summer: Sukey First to Glimpse Clemente". The Sporting News. June 29, 1955. p. 26. "Sukeforth, a Bucco coach, was sent to Richmond, Va., last June to get a look at pitcher Joe Black of Montreal. [...] But Sukey practically forgot all about Black when he caught his first glimpse of Clemente. 'I arrived at the Richmond ball park where Montreal was playing just in time to see the pre-game workout,' Sukey relates. 'I saw Clemente throwing from the outfield and I couldn't take my eyes off him. Later in the game he was used as a pinch-hitter and I liked his swing. He impressed me a great deal. I started asking questions and learned he was a bonus player and would be eligible for the draft. I knew then he'd be our first draft choice. In fact, I told Montreal manager Max Macon to take good care of 'our boy' and see that he didn't get hurt.'"
  12. 1 2 3 4 Thornley, Stew. "Appendix: Statistical Summary of Roberto Clemente's 1954 Season With the Montreal Royals". The National Pastime: A Review of Baseball History. Volume 26; 2006. pp. 68-69. Retrieved 2016-01-14.
  13. Honig, Donald (1988). The Donald Honig Reader. New York: Simon & Schuster. p. 146. ISBN 9780671663391. Retrieved 2016-01-14.
  14. Markusen, Bruce (1998). "Hidden in Montreal". Champaign, Il: Sports Publishing LLC. p. 23. ISBN 1-58261-312-5. Retrieved 2016-01-14.
  15. 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.
  16. 1 2 3 Thornley, Stew (2012). "A Season in Montreal". Roberto Clemente (Revised Edition). Minneapolis: Twenty-First Century Books. p. 20. ISBN 978-1-4677-0405-2. Retrieved 2016-01-14.
  17. Thornley, Stew (2012). "A Season in Montreal". Roberto Clemente (Revised Edition). Minneapolis: Twenty-First Century Books. pp. 21-22. ISBN 978-1-4677-0405-2. Retrieved 2016-01-14.
  18. Associated Press. "Clemente's Toss Helps Royals Defeat Toronto". The Montreal Gazette. August 19, 1954. (This links to the Gazette's front page. To access the article, type the number 16 in the navigation box in the upper right-hand corner, press "Enter," then drag the image up and towards the left.) Retrieved 2016-08-18.
  19. Search results for "Bob Clemente". Google News Archive. Retrieved 15 March 2015.
  20. 1957 Topps: Bob Clemente. Retrieved 15 March 2015. See also:
  21. Markusen, Bruce (1996). "Chapter 10: Fallback". Roberto Clemente: The Greatest. Champaign, Illinois: Sports Publishing LLC, 1998. p. 116. ISBN 1571672443. Retrieved 15 March 2015.
  22. Rice, Dona. Rice, William (2012). Roberto Clemente. Huntington Beach, California: Teacher Created Materials. p. 14. ISBN 978-1-4333-3683-6. Retrieved 15 March 2015.
  23. Cohn, Bob. "40 years ago Sunday, Clemente notched 3,000th and final hit". TribLive. September 29, 2012. Retrieved 15 March 2015.
  24. "Roberto Clemente's 3,000th Hit". YouTube. Retrieved 15 March 2015.
  25. "Pirates Retired Numbers". Pittsburgh Pirates. Retrieved October 2, 2015.
  26. Martinez, Hiram (December 31, 2012). "ESPN Internet Ventures". ESPN. Retrieved October 2, 2015.
  27. 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.
  28. "Clemente, The Passion and Grace of Baseball's Last Hero"; By: David Maraniss; p. 88; Simon & Schuster; ISBN 978-0-7432-1781-1
  29. Clemente to Start Six-Month Marine Corps Hitch, October 4,. The Sporting News. September 24, 1958. p. 7.
  30. Buc Flyhawk Now Marine Rookie. The Sporting News. November 19, 1958. p. 13.
  31. 1 2 "Marine Corps Sports Hall of Fame: Roberto Clemente". Retrieved 2007-12-17.
  32. 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.
  33. 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.
  34. 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.
  35. 1 2 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.
  36. 1 2 SportsCentury: Roberto Clemente
  37. Bouchette, Ed (May 15, 1987). "Roberts Bucs' forgotten pioneer". Pittsburgh Post–Gazette. pp. 19, 22. Retrieved March 10, 2012.
  38. 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.
  39. 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.
  40. 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.
  41. 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.
  42. 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
  43. Associated Press. "Clemente: Baseball's Biggest Bargain". The Chicago Tribune. January 2, 1973.
  44. 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.
  45. 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!
  46. 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.
  47. 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.
  48. 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.
  49. 1 2 3 4 "ESPN – Roberto Clemente MLB Career statistics – Major League Baseball". ESPN. Retrieved 2007-12-09.
  50. 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.
  51. 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.
  52. 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.
  53. 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.
  54. 1 2 3 Larry Schwartz. "Clemente quietly grew in stature". ESPN. Retrieved 2007-12-09.
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  58. 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."
  59. Miller, Ira. "Enrique Just Doesn't Understand: Clemente's Four-Year-Old Son Still Waits". The Beaver County Times. March 21, 1973. Retrieved 2015-06-28.
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  79. The American Presidency Project, George W. Bush, "Remarks on Presenting the Presidential Medal of Freedom", July 23, 2003. Retrieved July 10, 2913.
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  81. "Duquesne Cagers Given Welcome in Pittsburgh". The Greenville Record-Argus. March 15, 1954. p. 8. "Coach Dudley Moore received the Harvey Boyle award, presented annually to Pittsburgh's outstanding sports figure. Tho award is made by the Pittsburgh Chapter, Baseball Writers' Association of America."
  82. 1 2 Johnson, Robert. "Tech, Pirates Share Man of Year Honors; Jaycees Cite Carnegie Chief Dr. Stever, Give Clemente Sports, Lawrence Awards" The Pittsburgh Press'. January 24, 1967. Retrieved 2016-10-21.
  83. The Teenie Harris Archive at the Carnegie Museum of Art. Retrieved 2016-10-21.
  84. Associated Press."Clemente To Get Award in Houston". The Oxnard Press-Courier. January 18, 1971. Retrieved 2015-05-24.
  85. Bruce Markusen (1998). "Integration's Team". Roberto Clemente: The Great One. Champaign, Il: Sports Publishing LLC. pp. 207-208. ISBN 1-58261-312-5. Retrieved 2015-05-24.
  86. Wilson, John. "Standing Cheer for Roberto". The Sporting News. February 20, 1971. p. 44. "He began talking simply, stating a few of his views on life, baseball and duty. The crowd was moved by his sincerity. 'We must all live together and work together, no matter what race or nationality,' he said. He stressed that every individual must do his part. '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,' Clemente said."
  87. Feeney, Charlie. "Clemente named 1986 recipient of Al Abrams Award". The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. February 6, 1986. Retrieved 2015-08-31.
  88. Ruck, Rob. "A Sentimental Journey Back to Nicaragua for Vera Clemente". The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. May 4, 1989. Retrieved 2015-08-09. "On her fifth day in country, Vera accepts for Roberto the highest honor Nicaragua bestows upon a sporting figure, the Eduardo Green award. Named for Nicaragua's best-ever ballplayer, the award has never before been given to a foreigner. Lang pays thoughtful tribute to Clemente at the ceremony before President Daniel Ortega Saavedra pins the award to Vera's dress and embraces her."
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  108. "Sharon Robinson: honor Clemente some other way". ESPN. Associated Press. January 24, 2006. Retrieved 2009-08-17. The daughter of Jackie Robinson thinks Major League Baseball should not retire Roberto Clemente's No. 21, the New York Daily News reported Tuesday. The Hispanics Across America advocacy group wants Clemente's number set aside the way the late Robinson's No. 42 was nine years ago. But Sharon Robinson said that honor should remain for her father only.
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  113. "DC-7 set for Off-Broadway limited season". February 9, 2012. Retrieved 2013-08-29.
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  118. Clemente movie available for short time on DVD| TribLIVE
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    External links

    Wikimedia Commons has media related to Roberto Clemente.
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    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
    This article is issued from Wikipedia - version of the 12/4/2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.