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Baseball All Time Great Roberto Clemente… 40th Anniversary of His Tragic Death

Roberto Clemente
Getty Images, photo by Louis Requena

Monday December 31st, 2012 was the anniversary of the death of (to me) the greatest baseball player that ever lived. I know everyone has their favorite and mine was and still is Roberto Clemente. He played right field for the Pittsburgh Pirates and batted over .290 for 14 straight seasons. On the last day of the year in 1972, Clemente died in a plane crash as he left his country of Puerto Rico on a humanitarian mission to South America. The plane was overloaded by at least a ton and had mechanical failure almost immediately after take off and crashed in the ocean and his body was never found.

Clemente didn’t want to go to South America but three humanitarian supply shipments were delivered to those in need and were stolen or sold for profit by the local governments. A fourth plane was loaded with supplies and Roberto Clemente went along to assure the supplies reached those they were intended for. I can still remember the news 40 years ago as it came on the radio that Roberto Clemente died…no one wanted to believe it!

Clemente was a great baseball player and throughout my baseball playing days I always wore his #21, but more than baseball he was a humanitarian and a really nice guy. Still missed 40 years later.


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