MLB Honors Clemente
Former Pittsburgh Pirates outfielder Roberto Clemente is one of the most popular players in franchise history, and the team honored the fallen star on Wednesday.
That tribute extended throughout the Major Leagues as other players were able to honor their hero.
Clemente passed away at the young age of 38 when he died in a plane crash on December 31, 1972, off the coast of Puerto Rico. Clemente was a beloved member of the Pirates during his playing days and has grown in popularity since his death.
On Wednesday night, the Pittsburgh Pirates hosted “Roberto Clemente Day” to honor the Hall of Fame right fielder. The entire Pittsburgh Pirates team wore the famous No. 21 jersey that has become so popular throughout the city and the country.
The Pirates eventually lost the game to the Chicago White Sox by a score of 8-1, but this was a day to honor a hero to so many Latin-American players. The Pittsburgh Pirates have already named the 21-foot high right-field wall after Clemente, but wearing his jersey was an additional tribute.
Pittsburgh also mowed 21 into the outfield grass on Wednesday night as another way to honor Clemente. The team also hosted a drive-through food distribution on Wednesday to give back to the local community.
Major League Baseball initially granted the Pirates’ request to wear the iconic jersey number on Wednesday, but they eventually extended that offer throughout the league. Any Puerto Rican-born player in the league was able to wear his jersey number on Wednesday night.
Next Number to Be Retired?
Roberto Clemente’s family and members of the Pirates organization are hoping that his number 21 will be the next jersey number retired throughout Major League Baseball. MLB has retired the number 42 in honor of Jackie Robinson, but that is currently the only number retired throughout the league.
International players consider Roberto Clemente as their Jackie Robinson as he paved the way for so many of the game’s biggest stars to this date. There has been some discussion about retiring the number 21, but no official announcement has been made.
If this does happen, Major League Baseball will likely allow players that are currently wearing the number 21 jersey to continue wearing it until they retire. A similar thing happened with the number 42, and Mariano Rivera was the last player to ever wear that number in the Major Leagues.
Impressive Numbers For Clemente
Clemente spent his entire 18-year career with the Pittsburgh Pirates, and it was a career that began at age 20. The right fielder was a 12-time All-Star and was named Most Valuable Player at the end of the 1966 season.
Clemente posted a career batting average of .317 and hit 240 home runs to go along with 1,305 runs batted in. The Hall of Famer helped lead the Pirates to a World Series championship in both 1960 and 1971.
He was also known as one of the best outfielders to ever play the game, winning 12 straight Gold Glove Awards to finish his career.