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*On this date, in 1934, Roberto Clemente was born. He was an Afro Puerto Rican baseball player and humanitarian.
From Carolina, Puerto Rico, he was the seventh (youngest) child of Luisa and Melchor Clemente. As a baseball player, Clemente’s skill and verve won the acclaim of fans worldwide, especially in the Western Hemisphere. He became baseball's first pan-Caribbean superstar, respected off and off the field. After starting with the Puerto Rican Santurce Cangrejeros in 1952, Clemente signed with the Brooklyn Dodgers. Drafted out of the Dodgers organization by the Pittsburgh Pirates, one year later, the 5’11’’, 185-pound talent was starting in right field for the Bucs.
In his 18 seasons with Pittsburgh, he won four batting titles, hit 240 home runs, and had a lifetime.317 batting average. Clemente was a perennial all-star and 1966 Most Valuable Player, winning twelve Gold Glove awards with his speed technique and rifle arm. He also hit safely in all fourteen World Series games, compiling a.362 average and helping win the World Championship in 1960.
A racially proud man, Clemente protested the discrimination that Latin (brown) and African (black) ball players encountered. Following the 1972 season, Clemente managed the Puerto Rica National team to the world amateur championship in Nicaragua. After his return to Puerto Rico, Managua was struck by an earthquake, and he plunged into relief efforts.
From his home on New Year’s Eve, upon hearing of the Nicaraguan National Guard plundering relief supplies set forth to oversee the efforts. His plane disappeared into the Caribbean soon after take-off, and his body was never recovered. Before his death, he had started work in Ciudad De-Sportiva, a sports city for Puerto Rican youth. Clemente became his island’s most illustrious native son. His wife, Vera Clemente de Zabala, made his dream a multi-sport reality.
Roberto Clemente’s passing led baseball’s Hall of Fame to waive its five-year rule, and he was inducted two weeks after his untimely death.