The Pittsburgh Pirates honored the legendary Roberto Clemente prior to Wednesday night’s game.
Wednesday served as an important day in the MLB world. No, it had nothing to do with the postseason races. Rather, it was Roberto Clemente Day, the legendary Pittsburgh Pirates player who not only excelled on the field, but off of it with his charitable efforts.
To honor the legacy of “The Great One,” the 2020 Pirate squad paid tribute to Clemente prior to their game against the Chicago White Sox. Every member of the Pirates wore Clemente’s No. 21 on the back of their jerseys, with the jersey number also being painted on the pitchers mound.
The Pirates took things to the next level, as the first pitch of the game came from Puerto Rico, with the help of Clemente’s family.
Tribute to Clemente spanned across MLB
Ahead of the big day, MLB gave permission to all Puerto Rican players to wear the No. 21, which was retired by the Pirates back in 1973. However, players of all races and nationalities have asked the league to wear Clemente’s legendary number, and they obliged. Some players have gone a far as to ask MLB to retire the No. 21 across the league, like they did with Jackie Robinson’s No. 42.
Clemente spent his entire 18-year career with the Pirates, making his debut in 1955. The 15-time All Star accumulated a .317 batting average, .359 on-base percentage and .475 slugging percentage, while recording 3,000 hits, 240 home runs, 1,416 runs and 1,305 RBI.
But Clemente was most known for and revered for his charitable work in Latin American countries. On New Years Eve in 1972, Clemente was flying to Nicaragua with aid packages to help those impacted by an earthquake, but was killed after his plane crashed. Clemente was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame the following year.
The Pirate provided a beautiful tribute to the face of their franchise. Now, it’s time for MLB to step things up and retire Clemente’s number league-wide.