Roberto Clemente: How the Baseball Legend Made a Name as a Humanitarian
Google celebrated the life of Roberto Clemente on Friday, marking Hispanic Heritage month in the United States with a tribute to the baseball legend. The day marks 47 years since he helped the Pittsburgh Pirates beat the Baltimore Orioles to help bring them their World Series title. Outside of the sport, Clemente made a name for himself as a supporter of humanitarian causes.
Born in Carolina, Puerto Rico in August 18, 1934, Clemente showed promise from an early age. His professional career started at 18 when he signed with the Santurce Cangrejeros. After finishing high school, he then went on to sign for the Brooklyn Dodgers minor league in Montreal, before signing with the Pirates the following season. Over the course of his career, he racked up over 3,000 career hits, 12 Gold Glove Awards, two World Series rings, four National League batting titles, the National League MVP Award in 1966 and the World Series MVP Award during his 1971 performance with the Pirates. They were impressive wins, but it was off the pitch where Clemente tried to make a difference.
Clemente regularly held baseball clinics for kids in need, made food supply donations and made big donations to help communities. It was during this work that Clemente died: when an earthquake hit Managua in Nicaragua in 1972, he organized a relief effort that raised $150,000 cash and tons of supplies. Himself and four other people boarded a plane that crashed into the Atlantic Ocean, owing to the plane being overloaded by 4,200 pounds. None of the passengers survived.
Puerto Rico organized a three-day period of mourning in his honor. Clemente was posthomously admitted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1973, as the first Latin American and Carribean player to receive the award. The “Roberto Clemente Award,” administered by Major League Baseball, has annually recognized players that demonstrate a commitment to community work off the field. Clemente was also awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom. The Pirates commemorated Clemente by wearing the patch “21” on their uniforms.
Clemente is not the first sports figure that’s been honored by Google. Previous Doodles have recognized Fanny Blankers-Koen, the Dutch Olympic athlete known as the “flying housewife,” as well as celebrating the athletes of the Paralympic Games and the World Cup.