On Sept. 9, the Pirates are going to celebrate Roberto Clemente Day, and they’ll do so with every member of their uniformed team wearing No. 21, reports Marly Rivera of ESPN. Clemente wore No. 21 for most of his career with the Pirates (he came up as number 13 but changed before his second season), and the club has retired the number.

Clemente was one of the first Latino players in baseball and almost certainly the first superstar with Latin American roots. He was the first Hall of Famer from Puerto Rico and Latin America. He faced lots of racial scrutiny early in his career, most notably with reporters attempting to spell out his broken English phonetically to embarrass him. He was also called “Bob” against his wishes in order to make him seem more “American.” 

He was also an incredible baseball player. In his 18-year career, he hit .317/.359/.475 with 440 doubles, 166 triples, 240 homers, 1,305 RBI, 1,416 runs, four batting titles, 15 All-Star appearances, 12 Gold Gloves and an MVP. He ended up with exactly 3,000 hits. He had one of the best arms right field has ever seen, racking up 266 outfield assists. He also was a member of two World Series championship teams. 

Oh, and Clemente was also an amazing human being. He was a Marine who spent a lot of his offseason time doing charity work. He tragically died in a plane crash while attempting to take aid to Nicaragua after the country suffered a devastating earthquake. Major League Baseball now issues the annual Roberto Clemente Award to the player who “best exemplifies the game of baseball, sportsmanship, community involvement and the individual’s contribution to his team.” 

The Pirates have honored Clemente at PNC Park with a 21-foot high wall in right field. On Sept. 9, the entire Pirates roster will be wearing 21. That’s pretty cool. 


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