Major League Baseball legend Roberto Clemente made a significant impact on the diamond and off it. MLB honored the late professional baseball player, Hall-of-Famer, and humanitarian around the league with a ceremony at Citi Field.
Celebrating the 21st annual Roberto Clemente Day on Thursday (Sep.15), MLB held the festivities in Queens, NY, at Citi Field, where the Mets faced the legendary outfielder’s former team, the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Clemente tragically passed away in a plane crash at the age of 38 while on the way to deliver relief supplies to survivors of a massive earthquake in Nicaragua on New Year’s Eve 1972. Commemorating the 50th anniversary of the tragedy, MLB invited over a dozen winners of baseball’s Roberto Clemente Award for philanthropy and playing excellence to join the Clemente family for a pregame ceremony.
Speaking on winning the award, former Mets slugger and Puerto Rico native Carlos Delgado said it is the “most important trophy that I have in my house. Because it’s not just a trophy.”
Joining Delgado were fellow Hall-of-Famers and Clemente Award winners Dave Winfield and Jim Thome, taking the field before highlights of Roberto Clemente’s storied 15-year professional career playing on the jumbo screen located in centerfield.
Players and coaches from the Mets and Pirates wore jerseys with Clemente’s no.21 and stood on the baselines. Other teams across the league also wore no.21 during their games. Puerto Rican singer Jose Feliciano sang Puerto Rico’s national anthem and the “Star Spangled Banner.”
The ceremonial first pitch was thrown out by Clemente’s 4-year-old grandson, sporting an RC III Pirates jersey.
“It is a very special energy today,” said Luis Clemente, Roberto’s son. “The energy is totally different this year,” per ESPN.
There Is A Push To Retire Roberto Clemente’s No.21 Across The League
Right now in the MLB, there is only one number retired across the league, and that is Jackie Robinson’s no.42. There is currently a push happening for the same to happen with Clemente’s no.21.
“It’s a situation where I think it is gaining more momentum,” Pirates manager Derek Shelton said. “I think today’s one of the best days of the year.”
MLB, do right by Mr. Clemente and make that happen. It would be the perfect way to honor the legendary baseball player.
Photo: Jim McIsaac / Getty