Who Was Roberto Clemente?
Roberto Clemente played with the Brooklyn Dodgers' minor league team before making his major league debut with the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1955. He led the National League in batting four times during the 1960s and starred in the 1971 World Series. He died in a plane crash to deliver goods to Nicaragua in 1972.
Roberto Enrique Clemente Walker was born on August 18, 1934, in Carolina, Puerto Rico. The son of a sugarcane worker, Clemente began his professional baseball career just after finishing high school. He signed a deal with the Brooklyn Dodgers and played with their minor league team, the Montreal Royals, for a season. The next year he went to play for the Pittsburgh Pirates and made his major league debut in 1955.
Clemente hit an impressive .311 in 1956, but he struggled with injuries and the language barrier early in his career. He hit his stride in 1960, batting .314 with 16 home runs and 94 RBIs to earn his first All-Star berth and help the Pirates win the World Series. The following year, he led the National League with a .351 average, slugged 23 homers and won his first of 12 consecutive Gold Glove Awards for fielding excellence.
As the decade progressed, Clemente established himself as one of the top all-around players in baseball. He won three more batting titles and twice led the league in hits. Furthermore, he boasted one of the most fearsome arms ever witnessed in the sport, consistently unleashing powerful throws from his post in right field. He enjoyed perhaps his finest season in 1966, batting .317 with a career-best 29 homers and 119 RBIs to win the NL Most Valuable Player Award.
Clemente put on a show in the 1971 World Series, batting .414 with two home runs to help Pittsburgh defeat the favored Baltimore Orioles. Late in the 1972 season, he became the first Hispanic player to reach 3,000 career hits.
Reputation and Death
Off the field, Clemente was described as a quiet gentleman. He was proud of his Puerto Rican heritage and stood up for minority rights. Clemente married Vera Zabala in 1963, and they had three sons. Renowned for his humanitarian work, he died in a plane crash on December 31, 1972, en route to bringing much-needed supplies to survivors of an earthquake in Nicaragua. The next year he was elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame. He became the first Latino inducted into the Hall.
- Name: Roberto Clemente
- Birth Year: 1934
- Birth date: August 18, 1934
- Birth City: Carolina, Puerto Rico
- Birth Country: United States
- Gender: Male
- Best Known For: Baseball Hall of Famer Roberto Clemente became the first Latin American player to collect 3,000 career hits before his death in a plane crash.
- Astrological Sign: Leo
- Death Year: 1972
- Death date: December 31, 1972
- Death City: San Juan, Puerto Rico
- Death Country: United States
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- Article Title: Roberto Clemente Biography
- Author: Biography.com Editors
- Website Name: The Biography.com website
- Url: https://www.biography.com/athletes/roberto-clemente
- Access Date:
- Publisher: A&E; Television Networks
- Last Updated: April 15, 2021
- Original Published Date: April 2, 2014
- 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.