Why We Remember Roberto Clemente, MLB Legend

Roberto Clemente, Pittsburgh Pirates Right Field(Photo from Getty Images)

Roberto Clemente was a right fielder for the Pittsburgh Pirates from 1955 to 1972. A National League MVP once, an All-Star player 12 times, and a Gold Glove winner 12 times, Clemente was on the World Series winning team twice in his time as a Pirate.

However, it is not just for these statistics that the MLB has decided Clemente deserves an entire day of remembrance. He was an all-star both on and off the field. It is the work Clemente did beyond the diamond that is forever recognized within the stadium walls.

Being Puerto Rican, Roberto Clemente was in touch with his Latin American heritage. He often gave back by involving himself with charity work in Puerto Rico and Latin American countries during his off season. While most players spent their off seasons relaxing and taking vacations, Clemente would fly around the world to deliver equipment and food to those in need. He proved himself an all-around good person, who did not ever hesitate to put himself out there in order to help someone out.

On December 23, 1972, tragedy struck Nicaragua in the form of an earthquake. The earthquake tore through the capitol, Managua, leaving thousands of people dead, homeless, or injured. After hearing about the disaster, Roberto Clemente knew he had to do something. He had strong ties to Nicaragua through friends and loved ones, who were endangered. During a month he spent managing a Puerto Rican All-star team in the Amateur Baseball World Series, Clemente had built many solid relationships in the Nicaraguan community. He couldn’t bear to sit around and do nothing.

Without thinking twice, Clemente became the chairman of an earthquake relief committee and worked to involve as many people as possible, including the media. Clemente was so determined that he even went door to door personally to accept donations. When all was said and done, the relief team raised $150,000, and gathered and shipped nearly 26 tons of food, clothing, and medicine by air and sea. On one of these trips, Roberto Clemente climbed into the plane himself, wanting to be on hand and present to help the people as much as possible.

On December 31, 1972, the plane traveling with Clemente and many supplies for the earthquake victims crashed and ended his life prematurely. He was just 38 years old.

Beginning in 1973, the MLB presents the Roberto Clemente award every year to a player with outstanding baseball skills, who is also active in community work. At the World Series, the player is presented with a trophy and a donation check for the charity of the player’s choice.

It is obvious that Roberto Clemente made a giant impact on Major League Baseball, as well as all the lives he came in contact with on and off the field. His courageous, selfless, and compassionate heart is impossible to replicate, but can easily be remembered and valued. The world lost a hero that day, but every year on September 17, we remember all the good Roberto Clemente did while he had the chance. Today, take a moment to honor his legacy and remember his efforts to change the world.

Celebrate the lives of all your loved ones with Everlasting Footprint, regardless if they played in the major leagues.



About Liz Grear

Liz Greer, MFA, teaches creative writing, tutors students, and dabbles in ballroom dancing, book binding, paper making, and playing hopscotch between Chicago and New Jersey. She dreams of running a writing workshop in a prison, because she believes words can change things. Maybe not all things. But enough things.

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