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 Roberto Clemente

Roberto Clemente

Carolina, Carolina Municipality, Puerto Rico, USA
Death 31 Dec 1972 (aged 38)
San Juan, San Juan Municipality, Puerto Rico, USA
Burial Body lost at sea, Specifically: Never recovered from airplane wreckage off the coast of Puerto Rico
Memorial ID 2576 · View Source
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Hall of Fame Major League Baseball Player. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1973. He played right field for the Pittsburgh Pirates, and is considered among the greatest baseball players of all times. Born Roberto Clemente Walker in Carolina, Puerto Rico, he was the youngest of seven children to Melchor and Luisa Walker Clemente. His father was the foreman of a sugar cane plantation. Young Roberto showed a strong interest in baseball at an early age, and during high school, he joined the softball teams of two barrios, part of the amateur league in Puerto Rico, playing shortstop. In 1952, he began his professional career playing for the Santurce (Puerto Rico) Crabbers, part of the Puerto Rican Professional Baseball League. After one year, the Brooklyn Dodgers offered him a contract, but he moved to Canada to play for the Montreal Royals. He was unhappy with the Royals, and was recruited to play for the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1954, as a rookie draft. Suffering an injured back from an automobile accident that sidelined him in the middle of his first season with Pittsburgh, he non-the-less gave a fair performance for his first professional year, demonstrating good defensive skills. On July 25, 1966, he became the first (and to date, only) player to hit a walk-off inside the park grand slam, at the bottom of the ninth inning, to give the Pirates a 9 to 8 victory over the Chicago Cubs. During the winter season layoffs, Roberto served in the US Marine Corps Reserve, performing military duties so that he could have the spring to fall seasons for baseball; he would remain in the USMC Reserve until September 1964, when he completed his military obligation. In the 1960 season, he would bat .353 and have 25 of 27 Runs Batted In (RBIs). The Pirates would win the season, winning the National League pennant, and would defeat the New York Yankees in a seven game World Series playoff. His .314 overall batting average, combined with 16 home run hits earned him a place in the All-Star Game. His second season was equally superior, and at the end of that season he returned home to his native Puerto Rico, where over 18,000 people received him. On November 14, 1964, Roberto married Vera Zabala, in the church of San Fernando; they would have three children: Roberto Jr, Luis Roberto and Enrique Roberto. In the remainder of the 1960s, Roberto would lead the National League in batting averages four years, in hits two years, and would win the Most Valuable Player award in 1966. He registered a career highest batting average of .357 in 1967, when he hit 23 home runs and 110 RBIs. The 1970s would continue his outstanding playing. In 1971, Pittsburgh won the World Series over the Baltimore Orioles, and Clemente batted .414 during the series, for which he received the World Series Most Valuable Player Award. During the off seasons, Clemente spent much of his time doing charity work. When Managua, Nicaragua was hit with a massive earthquake on December 23, 1972, Clemente set about organizing relief flights of aid supplies to the city. He decided to accompany one of the flights, on December 31, 1972, and boarded an overloaded DC-7 cargo plane bound for Managua, which crashed into the ocean minutes after takeoff from San Juan. Despite a search, Clemente's body was never recovered. At the time of his death, Clemente had set several records, including hitting the most triples in a single game (three), most hits in two consecutive games (ten), and tying for the record of most Gold Glove Awards (twelve awards, he tied with Willie Mays). In 1973, he was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame, and a Congressional Gold Medal, and in 1984, the US Postal Service issued a postage stamp in his honor. In 2002, President George W. Bush awarded him a posthumous Presidential Medal of Freedom. He is considered among the top 100 Greatest Baseball Players of all times, according to "The Sporting News," which ranked him #20 in 1999.

Bio by: Kit and Morgan Benson

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  • Maintained by: Find A Grave
  • Added: 1 Jan 2001
  • Find A Grave Memorial 2576
  • Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Roberto Clemente (18 Aug 1934–31 Dec 1972), Find A Grave Memorial no. 2576, ; Maintained by Find A Grave Body lost at sea, who reports a Never recovered from airplane wreckage off the coast of Puerto Rico.