Tha Sports Junkies 101

A Tribute to Roberto Clemente: #mlbRetire21

Clemente Edwin Lugo / via Flickr



“Anytime you have the opportunity to make a difference in this world and don’t do it, you are wasting your time on earth”

                                                                                 Roberto Clemente


We have had the pleasure of watching many great baseball players over the years, but the time many had watching the greatness of Roberto Clemente was cut short by a tragic plane crash that ended his life.  You see, Clemente was more than just a man who said catchy quotes for us to read.  He was a man who lived by the words he said.  The quote above is the epitome of who Clemente was as a man.

Many players are judged by their play on the field, but Clemente knew that life was about more than just a game.  He believed that he should use his God-given talents for more than just performing well on the field.

Clemente died Dec. 31, 1972, when the plane carrying relief supplies for Nicaragua earthquake victims — crashed into the waters just off San Juan shortly after takeoff.


“He gave the term ‘complete’ a new meaning.  He made the word ‘superstar’ seem inadequate.  He had about him the touch of Royalty.” -Baseball commissioner Bowie Kuhn (1973 eulogy)


“Roberto Clemente played the game of baseball with great passion.  That passion could only be matched by his unrelenting commitment to make a difference in the lives of the less fortunate and those in need.  People saw him as a great ball player and humanitarian.  He was also a great father, husband, teammate and friend.” -Manny Sanquillen


When you hear the way people who knew him talked about him after his death, you know that Clemente represented everything that we want to see from an athlete that is so blessed.

Clemente also believed in service to the United States.  He enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve after the 1958 season and spent 6 months of active duty at Parris Island, South Carolina.  He served until 1964 and was inducted into the Marine Corps Sports Hall of Fame in 2003.

Roberto was able to become the first Hispanic player to accomplish many things.  He was the first to win a World Series as a starter.  First to be named MVP of a World Series and first Hispanic to be elected to the MLB Hall of Fame.

As we approach the 15th anniversary of 9/11 we must also recognize the importance of The Roberto Clemente Award to this historic event.

The Roberto Clemente Award had, since 1971, only been given to Major League baseball players. After the terrorist attacks in New York City, Major League Baseball made the following press release:

MLB Press Release

In a unique gesture, a second 2001 Roberto Clemente Award presented by John Hancock was given to the citizens of New York City for their humanitarian efforts after the disaster of September 11.

The announcement was made prior to the second game of the 2001 World Series in Phoenix, Arizona, and in conjunction with the Roberto Clemente Award given to Curt Schilling of the Arizona Diamondbacks in an earlier presentation.

On hand to accept the award on behalf of New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani were Bobby Valentine, Manager of the New York Mets, and Joe Torre, Manager of the New York Yankees. A message from Mayor Giuliani, who could not be in attendance, was shown on the scoreboard.

“The Roberto Clemente Award recognizes those individuals who truly understand the value of helping others,” said Baseball Commissioner Allan H. (Bud) Selig. “The example set by the citizens of New York City during this crisis has given us all a great deal of strength. We are proud to present this award to those citizens who, like Roberto Clemente, are committed to helping those in need.”

In the weeks and now months following the disaster, firemen, policemen, EMS workers and everyday citizens joined together to help in any way they could. Whether it was through rescue efforts, volunteering, donating blood or money, or just being there for one another, New Yorkers united showing strength, resiliency and most importantly compassion for their fellow man.

The Roberto Clemente Award, presented by John Hancock, is given annually to the player who best exemplifies the game of baseball, sportsmanship, community involvement and the individual’s contribution to his team.

Source: Major League Baseball (Press Release Feed).

Year after year we recognize Roberto Clemente for representing so many great things and for the impact he had on the game and the world around him.  It is time the MLB takes the next step and shows such an honorable man the respect he is due.

We at have decided to join together with our readers and with the fans of baseball and start a hashtag campaign to see Major League Baseball retire the #21 so that it will forever represent a man that represented the game so well.

We will be adding the Tag #mlbRetire21 to all of our baseball articles and asking each of our writers to tweet about Clemente with this hashtag attached.  We ask you to join in with us get MLB to take notice that a man like Roberto Clemente deserves to stand alone as the only #21.