Early life Born in August 18 1934, in Carolina Puerto Rico Son of Melchor Clemente and Luisa Walker and the youngest of seven sibling His family was poor, so in his childhood he was a milk deliver helping the family to survive. Studied in Carlos Vizcarrondo school in Carolina
Other sports in the boyhood From his early childhood Roberto showed signs of great athletic ability. At school, he won regional competitions, once tossing the javelin 190 feet—the world record in 1953 was just over 263 feet. He was also very fast on the track competing in both sprinting and hurdling events.
Firsts steps in baseball At the age of 14, Clemente played softball with men on the Sello Rojo team, sponsored by a large rice-processing company. He quickly moved up to a very competitive amateur baseball league, playing for a team known as Ferdinand Juncos. Roberto’s mother wanted him to seek a career in engineering and hoped he would pursue the profession. But in 1952, before he finished high school, Roberto was offered a professional baseball contract. Engineering would have to wait.
Puerto Rico baseball league At age 18, Clemente made the huge leap from amateur status to the Puerto Rican professional league. He signed with the Santurce Cangrejeros in 1952 for $40 per week, with a signing bonus of $400. The Cangrejeros were good. Although Roberto played sparingly, they won the Puerto Rican championship in his rookie year. In his is second year (1953- 54), Roberto was able to concentrate on his growing skills by playing every day. His game improved. He hit a respectable.288 for the season and attracted the attention of major league scouts.
Cangrejeros In February of 1954, Clemente signed with the Brooklyn Dodgers and reported for duty to their top minor league team, the Montreal Royals. The man who signed Clemente, scout Al Campanis, had pleaded with Dodger management to place him on the major league roster right away. Otherwise, Roberto might be lost to another major league team after only one season. The Dodgers would come to regret their decision.
Caribbean series of 1955 After a disappointing season in Canada, Clemente returned to Santurce to play in the winter league of 1954-55. The Cangrejeros brought together a constellation of stars headed by Willie Mays. They leveled the competition in Puerto Rico and went on to win the Caribbean World Series. Dubbed “Murderers Row” and "Escuadrón del Pánico (The Panic Squad),” the ‘54-55 Cangrejeros are considered by many to be the best Caribbean baseball team of all time.
Begin a Pirate Legendary baseball executive Branch Rickey moved from the Dodgers to the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1951 and immediately nabbed Clemente from Brooklyn. Roberto heard the news back in Puerto Rico and later admitted, "I didn’t even know where Pittsburgh was." Clemente’s true baptism into the majors came on April 17, 1955, when he connected for a single—against the Dodgers—in his first game.
Against the racial issue surrounded by the racial politics, the brutal scrutiny of the press, the business of the big leagues. "No. 1, he didn’t speak the language. No. 2, he was in a cultural twilight zone for him. Most important-I don’t think anybody understood this-but he never had to deal with racial prejudice because they didn’t deal with that in Puerto Rico. So you can imagine what a change it was for a kid of only 20 years of age playing at that level of sports having to deal with those three things." —Nellie King Pirate teammate, 1955-57, and Pirates broadcaster
Civil rights defender He became a union leader in the incipient Major League Baseball Players Association and defended players’ rights to demand better working conditions and benefits. The farther away you writers stay, the better I like it. You know why? Because you’re trying to create a bad image of me… you do it because I’m black and Puerto Rican, but I’m proud to be Puerto Rican." —Roberto Clemente, 1969
USA baseball path Clemente’s bat and base running mastery made him an offensive powerhouse. His speed was always a threat, both on offense and defense. On the base paths, Clemente combined speed with aggressiveness and cunning, lengthening many hits into extra bases. He studied the way balls bounced off fences in various parks so that he could stretch his hits into doubles and triples unlike other, more ordinary base runners.
Clemente tied the National League record by ripping a total of ten consecutive hits over the course of two consecutive games. Clemente’s right-field defense was unrivaled. With lightning-quick reflexes and foot speed, he repeatedly robbed batters, by tracking down drives into the gap between right and center field. Of all his gifts, Clemente’s throwing awed fans and observers most. He possessed one of the most powerful and accurate arms in the history of the game, leading the league in assists by outfielders in five different seasons.
Before I came here, you never had many outstanding players from the Caribbean. There were some good ones and now I won the MVP. This makes me happy because now I feel that if I could do it, then they could do it. The kids have someone to look up to and to follow. I show them what baseball has done for me, and maybe they will work harder and try harder and be better men." —Roberto Clemente National League Most Valuable Player, 1966
" Always, they said Babe Ruth was the best there was. They said you’d really have to be something to be like Babe Ruth. But Babe Ruth was an American player. What we needed was a Puerto Rican player they could say that about, someone to look up to and try to equal." -Roberto Clemente
In the 1971 season, the Pirates won the National League and faced the Baltimore Orioles in the World Series Baltimore had won 100 games and swept the American League Championship Series, both for the third consecutive year, and were the defending World Series champions. The Orioles won the first two games in the series, but Pittsburgh won the championship in seven games. This marked the second occasion that Clemente had won a World Series with the Pirates. Over the course of the series, Clemente batted a.414 average (12 hits in 29 at-bats), performed well defensively, and hit a solo home run in the deciding 2-1 seventh game victory. Following the conclusion of the season, he received the World Series Most Valuable Player award.
September 30, 1972 In a game at Three Rivers Stadium, he hit a double off Jon Matlack of the New York Mets for his 3,000th hit. It was the last at- bat of his career during a regular season, though he did play in the 1972 NLCS playoffs against the Cincinnati Reds. In the playoffs, he batted.235 as he went 4 for 17. His last game ever was at Cincinnati's Riverfront Stadium in the fifth game of the playoff series.
Career highlights and awards 12× All-Star selection (1960, 1961, 1962, 1963, 1964, 1965, 1966, 1967, 1969, 1970, 1971, 1972) 2× World Series champion (1960, 1971) 12× Gold Glove Award winner (1961, 1962, 1963, 1964, 1965, 1966, 1967, 1968, 1969, 1970, 1971, 1972) 1966 NL MVP 1971 World Series MVP 1971 Babe Ruth Award Pittsburgh Pirates #21 retired
Nicaragua On December 23, 1972, a massive earthquake devastated the Nicaraguan capital of Managua. 7,000 people died and thousands of others were injured. More than 250,000 people were suddenly homeless. Roberto lost many friends in the quake. He had spent most of November in Nicaragua managing a Puerto Rican all-star team in the Amateur Baseball World Series tournament. He felt the threat to his many colleagues, thousands of fans and friends.
Clemente accepted the honorary chairmanship of an earthquake relief committee and used local media to appeal for help. He worked day and night, even soliciting donations door to door. The relief team raised $150,000, and gathered and shipped nearly 26 tons of food, clothing and medicine by air and sea. Then came reports from Managua—the corrupt regime of General Anastasio Somoza was intercepting the deliveries. Roberto wanted to make sure the food and medicine got to the people who needed it. On New Year’s Eve, he helped load an aging DC-7, then boarded the flight.
The airplane he chartered for a New Year's Eve flight, a Douglas DC-7[3 had a history of mechanical problems and sub-par flight personnel, and it was overloaded by 5,000 pounds. It crashed into the ocean off the coast of Isla Verde, Puerto Rico immediately after takeoff on December 31, 1972. A few days after the crash, the body of the pilot and part of the fuselage of the plane were found. An empty flight case apparently belonging to Clemente was the only personal item recovered from the plane. Clemente's teammate and close friend Manny Sanguillen was the only member of the Pirates not to attend Roberto's funeral. The catcher chose instead to dive into the waters where Clemente's plane had crashed in an effort to find his teammate. Clemente's body was never recovered.
Honors Roberto Clemente Coliseum in San Juan Puerto Rico Sportive City Roberto Clemente in Carolina Roberto Clemente Stadium in Carolina Schools and other facilities around the Island and United States
Statue of Clemente on PNC park in Pittsburgh- home of the Pirates
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