Known equally for his humanitarian efforts as he is for his prowess on the baseball field, Roberto Clemente was a superstar for the Pittsburgh Pirates between 1955 and 1972. The 1966 National League MVP winner, Clemente was a 15-time All-Star and won 12 Gold Glove Awards. Finishing his career with exactly 3,000 hits in 1972, he would tragically perish during the offseason while delivering relief supplies to earthquake victims in Nicaragua. Clemente was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1973, having the typical 5-year waiting period waived by Hall officials.
I completed this sketch card in December 2012.
10 random facts about Roberto Clemente
- During his childhood,Clemente's father worked as foreman of sugar crops located in the municipality. Because the family's resources were limited, Clemente worked alongside his father in the same fields, loading and unloading trucks.
- Clemente debuted with the Pirates on April 17, 1955; at the beginning of his time with the team, he experienced frustration because of racial tension with the local media and some teammates.
- During the 1960 World Series, he batted .310 and hit safely at least once in every game.
- The night of July 24, 1970, was declared "Roberto Clemente Night"; on this day, 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.
- During the 1971 World Series, in which the Pirates defeated the Baltimore Orioles, Clemente hit .414 and slugged a homerun in the deciding 2-1 seventh game victory; he was named World Series MVP as a result.
- Upon his election to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1973, he became the second person to have the 5-year waiting period waived (the first being Lou Gehrig, who was elected shortly after being afflicted with ALS).
- He was a 4-time National League batting champion.
- His 12 Gold Gloves are the most among outfielders (he and Willie Mays share this record).
- He is the only player in history to have a walk-off, inside-the-park grand slam.
- MLB presents the Roberto Clemente Award every year to the player who best follows Clemente's example with humanitarian work.