A fan favorite in the US and across Latin America, Roberto Clemente was one of the most exciting players in the history of the game. He broke in with the Pirates in 1955 and spent his entire 18-year career in Pittsburgh.
Along the way the great Clemente earned a World Series ring in 1960 and again in 1971 as Series MVP. The 1966 NL MVP, Clemente wore the batting crown in ’61, ’64, ’65, and ’67.
A complete player, Clemente was blessed with speed and an outstanding arm. Those attributes and his ability to read the ball off of the bat earned him the Gold Glove Award in 12 consecutive seasons.
The Puerto Rico native was a man of firsts. He was the first Latin American player to earn an NL MVP Award and to receive a World Series MVP Award.
A humanitarian, Clemente spent much of his time in the offseason helping others. When Managua, Nicaragua was hit with a massive earthquake on December 23, 1972, he took action.
Clemente immediately began setting up emergency relief flights. Corrupt government officials in Nicaragua diverted the aid in the initial three flights he arranged. Seeing this, Clemente decided to accompany the fourth flight.
Believing his presence might ensure the aid reach the victims, Clemente chartered a cargo plane for a New Year’s Eve flight. Sadly, the plane crashed due to engine failure shortly after takeoff from Puerto Rico.
Clemente perished in the crash.
The Baseball Writers’ Association of America voted to waive the 5-year waiting period for Clemente’s eligibility for the Hall of Fame. In March of ’73 they held a special election and voted him into Cooperstown.
The image shown here is a personalized autograph of the Pirate great who finished with exactly 3,000 hits.