Tag: Roberto Clemente

Roberto Clemente Day Pirates vs. Marlins Series Will Take Place in Puerto Rico

As part of Major League Baseball’s 2016 schedule, the Pittsburgh Pirates and Miami Marlins will play a brief two-game series in San Juan, Puerto Rico, on May 30-31 to celebrate Roberto Clemente Day. 

The official announcement was made by MLB‘s public relations staff on Twitter:

Roberto Clemente Day was established by Major League Baseball in 2002 to honor the former Pirates superstar for his efforts on the field and his humanitarian work. The Hall of Famer was killed in a plane crash on Dec. 31, 1972 while trying to deliver supplies to Nicaragua following an earthquake.

Clemente, who was born in San Juan, Puerto Rico, spent his entire 18-year MLB career with the Pirates and finished with exactly 3,000 hits. His legacy in the city of Pittsburgh continues, with Pirates manager Clint Hurdle telling Tom Singer of MLB.com last September his presence can still be felt. 

“There are many who would argue he is still alive and well here in Pittsburgh,” Hurdle said. “That heartbeat is there, the pulse of the city. When you perform as he did professionally and live as he did personally, the legacy continues. He’s still touching lives.”

Traditionally, Roberto Clemente Day has taken place in September but will get bumped up this year so the Pirates and Marlins can properly celebrate the man in his home country.

The Marlins have a history of playing games in Puerto Rico, previously doing it in 2003 against the Montreal Expos and 2010 against the New York Mets. 

While the teams will certainly be putting their best foot forward to win these two games at the end of May, Clemente will be the star of the show. He’s an icon in baseball history and deserves all of the honors he continues to get 43 years after his tragic death. 

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Remembering Roberto Clemente’s Immortal Legacy as MLB Honors Him

September 17th marks Roberto Clemente Day around the MLB, as the league honors the legacy of one of the all-time greats.

He made his impact felt on and off the field during his 18-year career with the Pittsburgh Pirates, before his life came to a tragic end in a plane crash at the age of 38.

Clemente was signed by the Brooklyn Dodgers prior to the 1952 season out of Puerto Rico, but he never took the field for the Dodgers big league club before being selected by the Pirates in the 1954 Rule 5 draft.

He immediately took over as the Pirates everyday right fielder as a 20-year-old in 1955, hitting .255/.284/.382 and flashing plenty of future star potential.

The first five seasons of his career saw him make slow progress towards being the superstar he would one day be, as he hit a combined .282/.311/.395 and batted over .300 just once. Things took off in 1960 though, and he would quickly join the ranks of the game’s elite.

He hit .314/.357/.458 that season with 16 home runs and 94 RBI to finish eighth in NL MVP voting. He also made his first of what would be 12 All-Star appearances that season, and helped the Pirates to a World Series title.

From then until the end of his career, he was perhaps the best pure hitter in all of baseball, winning four batting titles and topping the 200 hits mark four times. He finished in the top 10 in the batting title race every year from 1960-1971, on his way to exactly 3,000 career hits and a .317 career batting average.

He was more than just a one-dimensional offensive player though, as he ranks as perhaps the best defensive right fielder to ever play the game 

With a cannon arm and fantastic range, he took home 12 Gold Glove awards and posted a 204.0 UZR for his career. His 254 outfield assists from right field rank as the most all-time, which is good for 16 more than anyone else.

He would take home 1966 NL MVP honors, and lead the Pirates to another World Series title in 1971 when he went 12-for-29 with two home runs to claim WS MVP. That capped off his Hall of Fame resume, and solidified his place as one of the best of all-time on the field.

It was his work off the field that would complete his legacy though and make a true legend.

Clemente did a good deal of charity work in the offseason throughout his career and when Managua, Nicaragua was hit with an earthquake on December 23, 1972 he set to work organizing relief efforts.

When he found out that the first three waves of relief supplies never reached their intended destination, he decided to come along with to help make sure they made it all the way to Managua. The plane was overloaded and wound up crashing into the ocean off the coast of Puerto Rico shortly after take off.

The Hall of Fame held a special election prior to the 1973 season for Clemente and he was inducted that summer after receiving 92 percent of the vote. His No. 21 was also retired by the Pirates in 1973 and MLB named the award for off-field work which had previously been known as the Commissioner’s Award the Roberto Clemente Award.

In 1973, he posthumously was given the Presidential Citizen Medal by President Richard Nixon, and in 2003, he earned the Presidential Medal of Freedom from George W. Bush, the highest civilian award.

All of the honors and praise bestowed on Clemente during his career and after his untimely death are more than deserved, as he goes down not only as one of the greatest players of all-time but a truly great human being.

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21 Facts You May Not Know About Roberto Clemente on the Anniversary of His Debut

The 20,000 fans in attendance at Forbes Field in Pittsburgh 57 years ago today likely didn’t know how much baseball history they would be witness to.

During the first game of a double-header against the Brooklyn Dodgers, right fielder Roberto Clemente took the field for the first time, kicking off a storied career that he spent entirely in a Pirates uniform.

That career was tragically cut short, however, when Clemente was killed on New Year’s Eve 1972 during a flight to deliver aid packages from his native Puerto Rico to earthquake-ravaged Nicaragua.

In honor of Clemente’s professional debut, here are 21 facts about his life and baseball legacy that you might not have known: 


1. Roberto Clemente Walker was the youngest of seven children born to Don Melchor Clemente and Luisa Walker. He was born on Aug. 18, 1934, in Carolina, Puerto Rico—the same town boxers Esteban De Jesus and Alfredo Escalera called home.

2. Clemente rode the bench during his first year as a teenager with the Santurce Cangrejeros (“Crabbers”) in the Puerto Rico Baseball League. By the next year, he was a starter and the team’s leadoff hitter.

3. The Brooklyn Dodgers signed Clemente in 1952 to its Triple-A team in Montreal with a $10,000 bonus, but he was used as a bench player. An MLB rule stated that any player given a bonus of more than $4,000 had to be on a major league roster for his entire first season or be eligible for the annual rookie draft, and the Pittsburgh Pirates selected him first overall in 1954.

4. During his first professional game (ironically against the Dodgers), Clemente went 1-for-4 and scored a run. He hit 2-for-4 with a double and a run in the second game, but the Bucs lost both games by scores of 10-3 and 3-2, respectively.

5. Pirates center fielder Earl Smith wore No. 21 until he parted ways with the team in April 1955. Clemente wore No. 13 until then. 

6. He was in a car accident during his rookie season and missed several games due to a lower back injury. Clemente played in 124 games and finished the season with a .255 average.

7. On July 25, 1956, he became the only player ever to hit a walk-off inside-the-park grand slam. He did it in a 9-8 win over the Cubs at Forbes field.

8. Clemente enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve after the 1958 season and spent six months on active duty at Parris Island, South Carolina and Camp LeJeune, North Carolina. He served until 1964 and was inducted into the Marine Corps Sports Hall of Fame in 2003.

9. Although many media organizations and the Topps baseball card company often referred to him as “Bob,” Clemente adamantly rejected those names and repeatedly insisted he be called Roberto.

10. Except for 1968, Clemente batted over .300 and was named to the National League All-Star team each year during the 1960s. 

11. Clemente won a Gold Glove award every year from 1961 until his final season in 1972. He shares the record for most Gold Glove Awards by outfielders (12) with Willie Mays.

12. Clemente was the first Hispanic player to accomplish many feats in the majors. He was the first to win a World Series as a starter, be named league MVP, be named World Series MVP and be elected to the Hall of Fame.

13. Clemente finished his career with exactly 3,000 hits. His final one was a double off Jon Matlack of the New York Mets on Sept. 30, 1972.

14. Nearly as well-known for his humanitarian efforts as his baseball career, Clemente sent shipments of aid to Nicaragua after an earthquake ravaged the country in late 1972. Clemente decided to accompany the packages when he learned that three previous shipments had been diverted by corrupt Somoza government officials.

15. The four-engine DC-7 plane he chartered for a flight on New Year’s Eve reportedly had a history of mechanical problems and was overloaded by 4,200 pounds. The plane crashed in the Atlantic Ocean immediately after takeoff from the coast of Isla Verde. Four others were killed.

16. Clemente’s teammate Manny Sanguillen was the only Pirate not to attend the memorial service. That’s because he instead traveled to Puerto Rico to dive into the waters where the plane crashed in an effort to recover Clemente’s body—which was never found.

17. At the time of his death, Clemente and Bill Mazeroski were the only remaining Pirates from the 1960 World Champion team.

18. Clemente was posthumously awarded a Congressional Gold Medal of Honor in 1973. It’s one of many honors bestowed on the outfielder for his humanitarian efforts following his death.

19. Clemente was the first and only Hall of Fame member for whom the mandatory five-year waiting period was waived. He was elected posthumously in 1973.

20. His plaque at the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York, read “Roberto Walker Clemente”—incorrectly placing his mother’s maiden name before his father’s surname until 2000, when it was recast to express his name in the proper Hispanic format.

21. When Pittsburgh’s PNC Park was being built, there were talks of naming it after Clemente. But the naming rights went to local PNC Financial Services and the nearby Sixth Street Bridge leading to the stadium was named after him instead. The right field wall at PNC Park is 21-feet high in honor of Clemente’s normal fielding position and uniform number.

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The ’21 Days of Clemente’ Is How One Pirate Great Is Remembered

“Anytime you have an opportunity to make things better and you don’t, then you are wasting your time on this Earth.” – Roberto Clemente

While most of us baseball fans are finishing our Christmas Shopping and scheduling for Holiday Festivities which will run into the New Year, I wanted to take a moment to remind you about Pittsburgh Pirate Great, Roberto Clemente.

Recognized to many as the “The Great One”, Roberto Clemente is also remembered for being a Humanitarian who died in a plane crash on December 31, 1972 while attempting to take relief supplies to the earthquake victims of Nicaragua. 

In honoring Roberto Clemente’s legacy, Latino Sports has hosted their Annual “21 Days of Clemente”. It’s been an annual event where where fans of Roberto Clemente have the opportunity to meet every Monday in the Bronx to share and listen to a guest speaker discuss the impact that Roberto Clemente has had in his/her life. 

For the last 10 years Latino Sports coordinates one of the most worthwhile community events in our community geared towards students and adults. Bronx students from Kindergarten to senior year in High school are invited to submit any drawing, poem, composition, or any art piece no matter how simple on Clemente, or Retire 21. No piece is rejected and all are accepted.

Every student that submits a piece of art will receive a certificate of recognition from Bronx Borough President, Ruben Díaz Jr. Most of the pieces will be exhibited at Applebee’s restaurant located at the Gateway Mall along with many other Roberto Clemente collectibles from December 10 – 31, 2010.

“The “21 Days of Clemente” is much more than an event to honor Clemente, it is an event to remember those that gave so much and the way that we live our lives. The fact that Latino Sports does this event every year in the middle of the most busiest month, December and the holiday season is a testament in itself,” said Julio Pabon, CEO of Latino Sports Ventures, Inc. 

Now in it’s Ten-Year Anniversary, this year’s “21 Days of Clemente” has been filled with wonderful surprises from it’s presenters and audience members. In the past, guest speakers have included former Mets GM, Omar Minaya and Roberto Clemente’s son, Roberto Jr. 

For the Tenth Anniversary of the “21 Days of Clemente,” things kicked off in Spanish Harlem where many of it’s residents attended in honor of their own Barrio Activist, Willie Soto. While many outside of El Barrio may not be familiar with Mr. Soto, he was the individual who fought for his neighbor’s rights and originally created the petitions to have Roberto Clemente’s number retired. 

Following Willie Soto’s tribute, the “21 Days of Clemente” returned to the Bronx last week where our guest speaker, Pulitzer Prize Winning Author, David Maraniss was our guest speaker. The author of “Clemente – The Passion and Grace of Baseball’s Last Hero” gave a passionate presentation followed by a Q&A session.

Last night’s guest speaker was Dr. Socorro Duprey. Her presentation was unique in the sense that she wasn’t a baseball fan who followed the career of Roberto Clemente. Rather she was a college student who met Roberto Clemente when she was a college student in the University of Puerto Rico. 

Now a Clinical Psychologist, Dr. Duprey stated she met Roberto Clemente when she was 15 years old when she first met Roberto Clemente on the University of Puerto Rico campus. “Roberto or Momen as well knew him would always visit his family once his baseball season was over,” stated Dr. Duprey. 

“In those days, Momen would come to our campus to hang out. He would always drive in his Cadillac and at some point of the day, he would give the other students a ride around campus. Having a strict grandmother, I never accepted a ride because I was terribly afraid of her,” laughed Dr. Duprey. 

One thing she wanted the audience to understand about Roberto Clemente was his nature. “Despite what the Media may have perceived of him, Momen was a humble but proud individual,” expressed Dr. Duprey. 

“You have to realize that at the time he played for the Pirates, he was wasn’t considered a Puerto Rican. He was considered Black and the discrimination he endured was just as bad in those times,” explained Dr. Duprey. “The thing with Momen is that when he took a stand, it wasn’t because he wanted to show off. He simply wanted to be respected as one with dignity would.”

In addition to her relationship with Roberto Clemente, Dr. Duprey educated us about the personal struggles she endured an educated Afro-Latina Puerto Rican living in the United States. She pointed out the similarities in the discrimination they both faced during the pre-Civil Rights Act times. 

Following her presentation, audience members engaged in a discussion on how sports sometimes have a tendency to reflect the signs of that particular time in History. Next week, the “21 Days of Clemente” will conclude with Paul Kutch’s presentation.

Mr. Kutch is regarded as one of the worlds largest Clemente collectors will speak on the value of collecting Clemente items and will have a display of many of his items.

Cesar Diaz covers Soccer for Latino Sports. You may follow him on Facebook and Twitter at @CoveringSoccer. For more sports news and Roberto Clemente, please follow Latino Sports at @LatinoSports143. Please feel free to email Cesar your questions and concerns at cesar@latinosports.com. 

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Roberto Clemente: What Would Have Happened 50 Years Later ?

Fifty years ago the Pittsburgh Pirates won one of the most sensational World Series in major league baseball history.

Last month in October, some of the living former Pirates teammates from that magical 1960 squad met to live once again the vivid memories of the day that stands above all others in Buccos history.

Yes, better than the world championships of 1971 and 1979, both times against the Baltimore Orioles.

They came together last November 13 for a theater showing in Pittsburgh of a discovered film of NBC’s Game 7 telecast against the New York Yankees. A copy of which no one knew existed.

The film was made at the time for the late Bing Crosby, the famed entertainer who long owned a small share of the Pirates.

The main highlight was once again to enjoy Bill Mazeroski’s historic homer in the ninth inning that gave the underdog Pirates a 10-9 victory over the New York Yankees in Game 7 of the World Series.

A player that probably would have to come to terms with history that evening was Roberto Clemente.

In 1960 the “Cometa de Carolina” from Puerto Rico had a magnificent season hitting .314, fourth in the National League and leading his Pirates with 94 RBI.

Later, in the postseason, he continued his torrid batting, hitting safely in every game of the World Series against the Bronx Bombers, hitting .310 with three RBI.

However, history tells that Clemente after the World Series was infuriated and enraged because he felt snubbed by all the media.

Weeks later he was maddened even more when it was announced that he finished eighth in the National League Most Valuable Player voting.

He really thought he was underappreciated after a season he was a two-time All-Star and one of its main offensive lumbers.

For that Clemente never wore his 1960 championship ring.

In spite of his feeling that he was given a cold shoulder, possibly it gave him, in the long run, the spark to one of the best careers of any player in history and a path to the Hall of Fame.

Clemente, after that 1960 season, began a streak of eight consecutive seasons in which he batted no less than .312.

He won 12 consecutive Gold Gloves, went to nine consecutive Midsummer classics out of his 14 All-Star appearances and won the 1966 National League MVP accolade.

Later in 1971 the Bucs went to the World Series and Clemente hit safely once again in every game. This time he was honored with the World Series MVP trophy.

Clemente was one of the most outspoken players in baseball and first among Latinos in Major League Baseball.

If he would have been alive it would have been very interesting to listen if he would have forgiven what happened back in 1960.

Also, if he would have met new Manager Clint Hurdle, what advice would he have given to him?

What would have been Clemente’s words to the new skipper of a Pirate team that lost 105 games and has averaged 97 losses the last six seasons?

Furthermore, last season the team was next-to-last in the majors in offense and last in pitching ERA and defense fielding percentage.

The Pirates, not since 1992, have finished a season above the .500 mark. Simply, the longest streak of losing seasons in major league history.

By the way, Clemente knows about futility. Before his magnificent 1960 season he played for a Pirate club that had suffered through three straight 100-loss seasons and was the laughingstock of the sport.

What Clemente would have said: Godspeed.

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Tim Wakefield of Boston Red Sox, Recipient of Clemente Humanitarian Award

Voted on by baseball fans and members of the media, the Roberto Clemente Award has been given annually since 1971 to the Major League Baseball (MLB) player who “best exemplifies the game of baseball, sportsmanship, community involvement and the individuals contribution to his team”. 

Named after 12-time All-Star and Hall of Fame outfielder Roberto Clemente in 1973, the award was named after Clemente died on New Year’s Eve 1972 while trying to deliver supplies to victims of the Nicaragua earthquake.

Each year, a panel of baseball dignitaries selects one player from 30 nominees, one from each team. Some of the past receipts of this award were such baseball greats as Mays, Carew, Ozzie Smith, Kirby Puckett, Albert Pujois and Derek Jeter.

This marked the eighth time Wakefield was nominated by the Red Sox, but the first time he’s actually won.

The 44-year-old righty was recognized for his selfless actions on Thursday, accepting the award at a news conference at AT&T Park in San Francisco prior to Game 2 of the World Series between the Giants and the Texas Rangers

When you think of Tim Wakefield, you think of two things: his dependability and his famous knuckle-ball that’s kept him in the majors all these years.  

Wakefield broke into the majors in 1992 with the Pittsburgh Pirates (ironically the team Clemente played his entire career with). He has been with the Red Sox since 1995.

Wakefield has helped those in need in both Boston and his home of Melborne, Florida. Since 2004, the knuckle-baller has been affiliated with Pitching in for Kids, a non-profit organization dedicated to providing specifically earmarked grants designed to improve the lives of children across the New England region. The program encourages kids to participate in special events and to learn crucial life skills. 

Every year, Wakefield is among or near the top of the list in community appearances by Red Sox players. Before every Tuesday home game, he runs the Wakefield Warriors program, in which he invites children from the Franciscan Hospital and the Jimmy Fund to visit with him and watch batting practice.

Wakefield and Pitching in For Kids has helped Franciscan Hospital raise more than $900,000. Wakefield participates in the Jimmy Fund Radio Telethon, which last year raised $4.5 million.

Wakefield is a 193-game winner in the Majors—179 of those wins coming for the Red Sox. He made the All-Star Game for the first time in 2009 and is the longest-tenured member of the Red Sox. Only Cy Young and Roger Clemens have won more games in a Red Sox uniform than Tim Wakefield.

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