Roberto Clemente

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Roberto Clemente : biography

August 18, 1934 – December 31, 1972

Puerto Rico has honored Clemente’s memory by naming the coliseum in San Juan the Roberto Clemente Coliseum; two baseball parks are in Carolina, the professional one, Roberto Clemente Stadium, and the Double-A. There is also the Escuela de los Deportes (School of Sports) that has the Double-A baseball park. Today, this sports complex is called Ciudad Deportiva Roberto Clemente. The Pirates themselves remain, as of 2013, one of the most popular baseball teams in Puerto Rico due to Clemente.http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/news/story?id=1843496

In Pittsburgh, the 6th Street Bridge was renamed in his memory, and the Pirates retired his number 21 at the start of the 1973 season. The City of Pittsburgh maintains Roberto Clemente Memorial Park along North Shore Drive in the city’s North Side which includes a bronze relief by sculptor Eleanor Milleville. In 2007, the Roberto Clemente Museum opened in the Lawrenceville section of Pittsburgh. Near the old Forbes Field where he began his pro career the city of Pittsburgh has renamed a street in his honor.

Champion thoroughbred horse Roberto, bred in 1968 and owned by then-Pirates owner John W. Galbreath, was named for Clemente. The horse would go on to become a champion in Britain and Ireland, and in June 1973, following Clemente’s passing, won the Group I Coronation Stakes at Epsom.

In 1973, the state of New York opened Roberto Clemente State Park in The Bronx. Some schools, such as Roberto Clemente High School in Chicago the Roberto Clemente Charter School in Allentown, Pennsylvania and Roberto Clemente Academy in Detroit, were named in his honor. Clemente was inducted into the Hispanic Heritage Baseball Museum Hall of Fame. There’s also a Roberto Clemente Stadium in Masaya, Nicaragua. There’s also a middle school in Germantown, Maryland called Roberto W. Clemente Middle School and the Roberto Clemente Little League in Branch Brook Park in Newark, New Jersey is named after him as well.

On August 17, 1984, the day before what would have been his 50th birthday, the United States Postal Service issued a postage stamp honoring Clemente. Designed by Juan Lopez-Bonilla, the spare clean design shows Clemente wearing his Pirates cap, with the Puerto Rican flag in the background.

In 1999, Clemente ranked Number 20 on The Sporting News’ list of the 100 Greatest Baseball Players, the highest-ranking Latino player on the list. Later that year, Clemente was nominated as a finalist for the Major League Baseball All-Century Team. As part of the Golden Anniversary of the Rawlings Gold Glove Award, Clemente was selected to the All-Time Rawlings Gold Glove Team.

During the 2003 and 2004 MLB seasons, the Montreal Expos (who at the time were owned by MLB due to an aborted contraction attempt) played 22 home games each season at Hiram Bithorn Stadium in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Although the Pirates played their annual road series against the Expos in Montreal for 2003, the two teams did meet in San Juan for a four-game series in 2004, the last series the Expos hosted in San Juan before moving to Washington, D.C. and becoming the Washington Nationals the following season. During one of those games, in a tribute to Clemente, both teams wore throwback uniforms from the 1969 season, the Expos first season and, at the time, Clemente’s 15th with the Pirates. The Pirates throwbacks, replicas of what Clemente wore from 1957-early 1970, were similar to their then-current uniforms, except that the road jerseys they wore for the game read "Pirates" instead of "Pittsburgh", and last names were absent from the backs of the jerseys. The Expos won the four-game series three games to one.http://www.baseball-almanac.com/teamstats/schedule.php?y=2004&t=PIThttp://throwback-uniforms.blogspot.com/2004/07/pittsburgh-pirates-vs-montreal-expos-at.html

Clemente’s #21 remains active in Major League Baseball, and is worn by multiple players. Sammy Sosa wore #21 throughout his career as a tribute to his childhood hero. The number is unofficially retired in the Puerto Rico Baseball League. While the topic of retiring #21 throughout Major League Baseball like Jackie Robinson’s #42 has been broached, and supported by groups such as Hispanics Across America, Jackie Robinson’s daughter disagrees, believing that Major League Baseball should honor him another way.