The Lead

Philly lawmaker wants Major League Baseball to honor Roberto Clemente

By: - February 8, 2019 11:47 am
Roberto Clemente (Wikimedia Commons)
Roberto Clemente (Wikimedia Commons)

In 298 career games against the Philadelphia Phillies, Roberto Clemente — baseball’s first Latino star and a Pittsburgh Pirates great — slashed a .330 average against the cross-state rivals. That was his second best against any team.

But even if Clemente tormented the Philly fanbase in life, Rep. Angel Cruz, a Democrat from the city, is introducing a House resolution to honor his role as a civil rights and humanitarian icon.

Clemente died in a plane crash on a relief mission to Nicaragua after a devastating earthquake just a few months after collecting his 3,000th hit in 1972. He was posthumously honored with a host of awards from Major League Baseball and was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame the next year.

In a co-sponsor memo released Friday, Cruz wants to the state House to urge the MLB retire Clemente’s No. 21 league wide.

“In 1973, the Pittsburgh Pirates retired Clemente’s uniform number 21 to honor his achievements,” Cruz writes in his memo. “After more than 45 years, I am urging MLB to honor the lifetime achievements of the late Roberto Clemente by doing the same.”

Major League Baseball has only retired one number league-wide: Jackie Robinson’s No. 42, to honor the end of league segregation.

That number was last worn by retired New York Yankee pitcher Mariano Rivera, the greatest closer of all time and only player to be elected unanimously to the Hall of Fame.

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Stephen Caruso
Stephen Caruso

Stephen Caruso is a former senior reporter with Pennsylvania Capital-Star. Before working with the Capital-Star he covered Pennsylvania state government for The PLS Reporter.