If you are a enthusiast of the Pittsburgh Pirates and were observing them perform in the 1960s and 1970s then you may not understand that this thirty day period marks the 50th anniversary of the tragic death of Buccos’ superstar and Baseball Hall of Fame member Roberto Clemente.
When I think about 50 yrs due to the fact that fateful working day I’m in disbelief it’s been that extended. It also helps make me experience substantially older than my 63 many years of everyday living. For individuals that keep in mind that New Year’s Eve 1972, you possibly remember the exact second you realized that Clemente dropped his lifestyle in a plane crash. I recall particularly wherever I was and who advised me the unhappy information.
I was just waking up for the working day and a loved ones member reported to me, “did you hear about Roberto Clemente?” I explained no. Then the awful phrases came out. “He was killed in a plane crash final evening.” My coronary heart sank. My boyhood hero was absent. The entire city of Pittsburgh went into mourning. You see, of all the athletes that played for a group in the Metal Metropolis, it was Roberto Clemente that has been the most cherished of all. Possibly only Willie Stargell could rival #21 but to this working day, he is however idolized in the ‘Burgh.
The silver lining in the darkish cloud of this party is that Clemente was nearing the stop of his illustrious occupation and experienced achieved a lot. He achieved the exceptional 3,000-hit club, hitting that mark proper on the amount and by no means heading over it. But an even bigger accomplishment is most likely the truth that Roberto Clemente is deemed by most gurus to be the best defensive correct fielder in the history of baseball and possibly the very best with the glove and throwing arm of any outfielder.
One marvels above the throws built by Roberto from suitable discipline, most of the time hitting dwelling plate on the fly or a person very simple bounce. It was reported he utilised to go to aged Forbes Discipline on off times and follow throwing to the plate with his again turned and using a deflection off the outfield wall but generating the throw without the need of searching so that in a actual video game he would be superior at throwing gamers out attempting to rating and there would be no hesitation.
Yet another trick Clemente pulled with his sturdy arm what throwing driving runners at very first base when they turned the corner on a solitary typically catching them off the bag and throwing them out. His arm was very powerful. But there was also the mystique at the rear of the person, typically misjudged since of his peaceful character and unwillingness to talk to the press brazenly. His Puerto Rican accent also made him unpleasant but thanks in part to the famous Pittsburgh announcer Bob Prince who became a close pal of Roberto’s, Prince served Clemente in turning into far more comfortable. Prince was a further legend who I reserve to chat about in yet another short article.
If you know who Neil Walker is, then maybe you do not know the back again story about his father Tom. Tom Walker performed Key League Baseball and in 1972 was enjoying winter ball in Clemente’s hometown of Puerto Rico. When Roberto Clemente decided to constitution a aircraft to Nicaragua to assist victims of an earthquake, Tom Walker told Roberto he needed to join him on the trip. But with the airplane fully loaded and Clemente not seeking Walker to be with his family on New Year’s Eve, he certain Neil’s father to keep guiding. The relaxation is historical past.
Had Tom Walker gotten on that airplane, there would be no Neil Walker who would close up playing part of his profession in Pittsburgh and turning into a highly well known participant. Both equally father and son are alive and perfectly now, Tom Walker is now 74. Neil Retired previous year soon after a job with 6 groups (Pirates, Mets, Brewers, Yankees, Marlins, Phillies).
Had Roberto Clemente not boarded that enjoy on December 31, 1972, he probably would have performed a several additional seasons with the Pirates and without doubt continue to made the Hall of Fame dependent on his career and not just his career and passing. But with 18 many years on his history, Clemente finished with these 3,000 hits, a batting regular of an extraordinary .317, 240 property runs when he was not recognized as a very long ball hitter, 166 triples, 440 doubles, 1,416 operates scored, 1,305 RBIs, 83 stolen bases, and a Most Beneficial Player Award in 1966.
Clemente led the league in hits twice, triples after, and won the batting title four periods. He did not get injured usually and averaged 135 game titles a period for a occupation total of 2,433 video games performed. In the outfield, there was none other than Clemente. Clean as silk, a cannon for an arm, exact outside of perception, the man won the Gold Glove Award 12 instances in 18 seasons those people 12 awards all coming in succession starting in 1961 to the day he performed his last game.
On a private level, Roberto Clemente married Vera Zabala in 1964, and had he survived till she died in 2019, they would have been married for 55 many years. Vera was nearly as beloved in Pittsburgh as was her husband and she has been honored at Pirates game titles exactly where I’m positive there weren’t many dry eyes at Three Rivers Stadium or PNC Park that day.
The pair experienced a few boys, Roberto Clemente Jr., Roberto Enrique, and Luis Roberto. In 2003, Vera Clemente approved the President Medal of Freedom in Roberto’s title, honored of class posthumously. Roberto Jr. Attempted to observe in his father’s footsteps into MLB but injuries ended that desire and he would finish up with a broadcasting occupation amongst other ventures. Now 57 a long time of age he and his spouse celebrated the delivery of their first child in 2018, a boy and to no surprise, named Roberto Clemente III.
Roberto’s youngest son, Roberto Enrique also attaches his mother’s maiden name to his so his full title is Roberto Enrique Clemente Zabala. Born on Could 20, 1969, he as well performed baseball but only to the age of 13. Even shyer than his father, Enrique needed a quiet non-public everyday living as a result he didn’t experience baseball would deliver that to him so he stopped enjoying. Alternatively, he centered on remaining the finest gentleman, partner, and father he could be. His occupation has been performing for production and labor corporations and he continues to be committed to keeping out of the highlight.
The boy in the center of Roberto Clemente’s three sons is Luis Roberto who is now 56 several years outdated. He proven the “Clemente Legacy Program” which attempts to train pupils to become goodwill ambassadors in their respective communities. It is built up of amenities honored with the title of Roberto Clemente, universities, and other applications.
Luis Clemente is also a motivational speaker. Luis and his spouse have continued the Clemente legacy with a few sons of his possess, Luis Jr., Robby, and Bobby. The reside in Puerto Rico. As for Roberto’s fast loved ones, his dad and mom were being Melchor Clemente and Luisa Walker who represents Roberto’s center name. Roberto experienced six other brothers and sisters.
Roberto Clemente got his baseball start in Puerto Rico actively playing in leagues there just before signing with the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1954. But he was a cost-free agent unprotected with his agreement and as the relaxation is background he signed with the Pirates by no means to participate in for an additional group. Pittsburgh is thankful for that.
So when December 31 rolls all-around this 12 months, Pirates admirers all over the place will be saddened on that day to know it marks 50 years since baseball shed a superstar and a Pittsburgh icon. In Major League Baseball an effort and hard work stays intact to have Clemente’s jersey number of 21 retired from all of baseball but in Pittsburgh, no other Pirate will ever put on that selection once more.