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Roberto Clemente

Roberto Clemente

Position(s):
CF, OF, RF, 2B, 3B, LF
Nicknames:
Arriba
Born:
August 18, 1934
Bats:
Right
Throws:
Right
Height:
5' 11"
Weight:
175 lbs
Major League Debut:
4-17-1955 with PIT
Allstar Selections:
1961 GG, 1962 GG, 1963 GG, 1964 GG, 1965 GG, 1966 GG, 1966 MVP, 1967 GG, 1968 GG, 1969 GG, 1970 GG, 1971 BR, 1971 GG, 1971 WsMVP, 1972 GG
Hall of Fame:
1973

Intro

A member of the 3,000-hit club, Roberto Clemente was a tremendously proud man who was often misunderstood by the press and his teammates. He was criticized for refusing to play with minor injuries, despite the fact that he won four batting championships. He played on two Pirate World Series winners and became a legendary figure after his tragic death while delivering supplies to victims of the Nicaraguan earthquake in 1972. His tragic death prompted the Hall of Fame's Board of Director's to unanimously wave the customary five year period for induction, opening the door for the Baseball Writers Association of America (BBWAA) to hold a special election on Clemente's behalf. By an overwhelming vote of 93%, Clemente became the first player of Latin American descent to be inducted into the Hall of Fame.

Unform Number

#13 (1955), #21 (1955-1972)

Replaced By

The Pirates tried a radical move when they decided to put catcher Manny Sanguillen in right field to start the 1973 season. By mid-year he was back behind the dish, and young Richie Zisk was in right. "He played the game of baseball with great passion," Sanguillen said. "That passion could only be matched by his unrelenting commitment to make a difference in the lives of the less fortunate and those in need. People saw Roberto as a great ballplayer and humanitarian. He was also a great father, husband, teammate and friend."

Best Season

Though he failed to win his third straight batting title (.317), Clemente played at a high level and set a career mark for RBI (119). He stayed healthy (which was rare for him), playing 154 games. He won the Gold Glove (his 6th straight) and slugged .536. He collected 202 hits, scored 105 runs, and hit a career-high 29 home runs.

Factoid 1

On July 25, 1956, Roberto Clemente hit a walk-off inside-the-park grand slam in the ninth inning to defeat the Cubs, 9-8, at Forbes Field.

Strengths

He could flat-out hit.

Weaknesses

He was fragile.

Milestones

By 1972, Clemente had passed Honus Wagner as the Pirate club leader in games, at-bats, hits, and total bases. He had also surpassed Pie Traynor for the team career mark in RBI. All that was missing was the magical 3,000th hit, and on the regular season's final day Clemente stood one hit shy. On September 29th, Clemente had nearly reached the coveted milestone off Tom Seaver, but a ball he hit was ruled an error and the suspense waited until the 30th. ,br> At home facing the Mets and pitcher Jon Matlack, the Pirates had already wrapped up the NL East title. Clemente batted third in the lineup but went hitless his first time up. In the fourth he rifled a pitch from Matlack off the warning track for a solid double. He had become the 11th man to reach the 3,000 mark. Pirate fans gave him a long ovation and the proud man raised his cap to the crowd. He would say after the game, "I give this hit to the fans of Pittsburgh and to the people of Puerto Rico."

The Arm

Clemente grew up in Puerto Rico listening to the Dodgers on the radio and idolizing Carl Furillo - Brooklyn's right fielder with a cannon for an arm. When he arrived in the majors, Clemente soon gained recognition for his wing as well. He once threw a ball from deep right center field at Forbes Field all the way to home plate on the fly. The distance was 460 feet.

His Legacy

Since 1971, Major League Baseball has annually presented an award that recognizes the player who best exemplifies the game of baseball, sportsmanship, community involvement and the individual's contribution to his team. In 1972 the award, formerly know as the Commissioner's Award, was renamed to honor Roberto Clemente, who tragically died in a plane crash while delivering much needed supplies to earthquake-stricken citizens of Nicaragua on New Year's Eve. Clemente once said, "Anytime you have an opportunity to make things better and you don't, then you are wasting your time on this Earth."

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Tagged:
1960 World Series, 1971 World Series, 1973 Hall of Fame, 3000 hit club, All-Star, Babe Ruth Award, Gold Glove, Hall of Fame, NL MVP 1966, Pittsburgh Pirates, Roberto Clemente

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