MLB to RETIRE Roberto Clemente's Jersey

MLB to RETIRE Roberto Clemente's Jersey

August 8, 2022
Signatures: 122Next Goal: 200
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Why this petition matters

Started by Ralph Colon

As I sit writing this story I can't stop thinking about Roberto Clemente Walker as we approach the 50th Anniversary of when destiny took " The Great One " from us. I also can't stop wondering why have we not kept an open conversation about retiring his jersey across Major League Baseball. I believe he was the true embodiment of how a player should play and how a role model should be on and off the field. He was a true American hero and an inspiration across Latin America opening doors for others after him. He wasn't the first Latin American to play , he was the first Latin American Superstar of his time.

Roberto Clemente was very outspoken and often spoke with pride and inspiration he once said  " If you have a chance to help others and fail to do so you're wasting your time on this earth. " Clemente saw baseball as a means for bettering the lives of Puerto Rico's children — just as the sport had done for him. He took baseballs and gloves to sick fans and staged baseball clinics across the island that instructed thousands of children, particularly those from poorer households, in more than just baseball.

To better understand who was " The Great One " you must first get a glimpse of his amazing accolades in baseball, possessing a natural talent being able to hit , run , catch and throw. Clemente was a feared hitter among the pitching greats of his time, winning the NL batting title four times: 1961, 1964, 1965, and 1967. He hit .300 or better in 13 different seasons. He amassed 3,000 hits and 240 home runs. Runners feared his arm of a cannon that could throw you out at home if tested. He was just as amazing at catching by collecting 12 consecutive Gold Glove Awards. Clemente was the greatest right fielder ever. He had the best arm in baseball at the time and that is proved by the fact that he led the majors in outfield assists five times. He was selected to play in 15 All-Star games. Winning the NL MVP in 1966 and World Series titles in 1960, 1971 and World Series MVP, 1971. He was the First Latin American inducted into National Baseball Hall of Fame, 1973. He was often overshadowed by the Willie Mays , Hank Aarons and the Mickey Mantles of his time.

Someone once compared Roberto Clemente to Willie Mays by saying " He plays like Willie Mays "  he then said " I play like Roberto Clemente " as I mentioned he was a proud man a very proud Puerto Rican man and he was proud to be Roberto Clemente. In September 1958, Clemente joined the United States Marine Corps Reserve. He served his six-month active duty commitment at Parris Island, South Carolina, Camp LeJeune in North Carolina, and Washington, D.C. At Parris Island, Clemente received recruit training with Platoon 346 of the 3rd Recruit Battalion. a U.S. Marine Corps reservist, admired Martin Luther King Jr. and spent an afternoon with him at his farm in Puerto Rico.

When Clemente reported to Pirates spring training in Florida for the first time, Black players usually had to wait on the bus for their white teammates to bring them back food from restaurants after games. Clemente despised the routine. He threatened to fight any Black player who took the food, according to David Maraniss’ biography of Clemente. He requested separate transportation and the Pirates eventually provided a station wagon for the Black players. He denounced the segregation he confronted during spring training in the Jim Crow era of the South, pushed for the Pirates to make changes to better accommodate black players. Perhaps equally as important as Clemente's accomplishments on the field was his role as an advocate for equitable treatment of Latin baseball players, in which he took great pride.  Clemente met racism and discrimination in their crudest forms. He and other minority players would be targeted by other players on and off his team , he would get hit by pitchers or spiked. He quickly became an active defender of his rights and the rights of others.

Early in his career with the Pirates, he was frustrated by racial and ethnic tensions, with sniping by the local media and some teammates. Clemente responded to this by saying " I don't believe in color ." He said that, during his upbringing, he was taught never to discriminate against someone based on ethnicity. Clemente was at a double disadvantage, as he was a Latin American and Caribbean player whose first language was Spanish and was of partially African descent. Clemente was often alienated and treated as an outcast in a town where Whites saw him as a black man and the African American community labeled him a foreigner. The sports press often took jabs at the rising star by quoting him in broken English. This would infuriate him and would fuel his pursuit of excellence on the field to gain the respect he felt he deserved.

Clemente once said " I am in the Minority group. I am from the poor people. I represent the poor people. I represent the common people of America. So I am to be treated like a human being. I don't want to be treated like a Puerto Rican, or Black, or nothing like that. I want to be treated like any person. "     Clemente didn't just play baseball he spent much of his time during the off-season involved in charity work in Latin American and Caribbean countries.   Roberto Clemente was MLB’s most beloved humanitarian. He worked tirelessly to promote greater accessibility and equality for Latino Americans, both within baseball and outside of it. Clemente was famous for hosting baseball clinics for underprivileged youth free of charge. He often delivered baseball equipment and food to those in need. He also delivered significant financial aid to people in his native Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, and other countries in Latin America.

When Managua, the capital city of Nicaragua, was affected by a massive earthquake on December 23, 1972. Clemente ( who visited Managua three weeks before the quake had coached ) Immediately set to work arranging emergency relief flights. Spent all of Christmas week in a parking lot desperately looking and organizing supplies for the people of Nicaragua. He soon learned, however, that the aid packages on the first three flights had been diverted by corrupt officials of the Somoza government, never reaching victims of the quake. He also soon learned the relief aid packages were being stolen by the corrupt officials and selling it back to the people. Clemente decided he had to go personally and make sure it was going directly to the people who needed the most, further proving his devotion to humanitarian causes.

He decided to accompany the fourth relief flight, hoping that his presence would ensure that the aid would be delivered to the survivors. The airplane he chartered for a New Year's Eve flight, a Douglas DC-7 cargo plane, had a history of mechanical problems and an insufficient number of flight personnel (missing both a flight engineer and copilot), and was overloaded by 4,200 pounds (1,900 kg). It crashed into the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Isla Verde, Puerto Rico immediately after takeoff on December 31, 1972, due to engine failure. Roberto Clemente’s body was never recovered. He died at the age of 38, fighting to help those in need. He died trying to help others live.

Nearly 50 years after his death, Clemente remains the most revered figure in Puerto Rico and a Latin American icon. Roberto Clemente is known as the greatest Latino role model for all Latino athletes playing in America today. He often used his on camera interviews to address Latinos and Latinas in the United States, speaking to them in Spanish. To this day, Puerto Rican children grow up to learn of this great hero. More than 40 schools and 200 parks, streets, and bridges are named in his honor in places ranging from Puerto Rico to Germany. Following Clemente's death, the Puerto Rican government donated 304 acres near the barrio where the baseball star grew up to fulfill his dream of a sports complex.

1973 Originally the Commissioner's Award, Major League Baseball honored him by establishing an award that bears Clemente’s name, recognizing the player who, besides being a good athlete, emulates Clemente’s philanthropy and humanitarianism. In Puerto Rico an award in his name is given at public schools to those who excel as athletes, students, and citizens.

Roberto Clemente is a True American.

Roberto Clemente's number 21 was retired by the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1973. About 50 years later Roberto Clemente's Jersey hasn't been retired across Major league Baseball. Clemente was more then just baseball he set a standard on how Latin Americans should carry themselves and give back as much as they could. Always respected the common man and never hesitated to lend a hand to anyone that needed it. He doesn't just inspire athletes he continues to inspire many especially like myself and beyond.

Let us give him his due that is deserved many times over. Lets keep talking about this so that the MLB can make it happen.








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Signatures: 122Next Goal: 200
Support now