Roberto Clemente Night
Roberto Clemente’s on-field accomplishments are plentiful. The right fielder hit .317 with 3,000 hits and 240 home runs over an 18 year career with the Pittsburgh Pirates. Clemente went to 12 All-Star Games, won 12 Gold Glove awards, two World Series Titles (1960 and 1971), an NL MVP Award (1966) and a World Series MVP award (1971). But what he is also known for is the extensive amount of humanitarian work he did during his career. Clemente, born in Carolina, Puerto Rico as the youngest of seven children, knew about hardship. Therefore, most of his charity work involved bringing baseball and other sports to poor areas of Puerto Rico and other Latin American countries. He was also involved with the US Marine Corps as a reservist.
It was his desire to help people that eventually led to Clemente’s untimely death on December 31, 1972. Eight days after an earthquake devastated Managua, the capital of Nicaragua, Clemente boarded a plane loaded with supplies en route to help the victims of the earthquake. Unfortunately, due to mechanical problems, the plane barely got off the ground and crashed into the ocean off the coast of San Juan, Puerto Rico. Clemente, who was 38, was survived by his wife, Vera, and three sons, Roberto Jr., Luis Roberto and Enrique Roberto.
In the months after his death, the Baseball Writers Association of America decided to waive the usual five-year waiting period for Hall of Fame eligibility and voted him in. He was also posthumously honored with the Congressional Gold Medal in 1973 and the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2002. But perhaps one of the most lasting legacies is the Roberto Clemente Award, given each year by Major League Baseball to the player who “best exemplifies the game of baseball, sportsmanship, community involvement and the individual’s contribution to his team” as voted by the fans and the media.
Tonight, the Nationals and the US Marine Corps are honoring Roberto Clemente and his legacy at Nationals Park. Marines will be on-hand before the game to hand out the Nationals Inside Pitch magazine as well as assist in the pregame ceremonies. Nationals Pitcher John Lannan will be honored before the game as the team’s Roberto Clemente Award nominee for his work with his new charity, Lannan’s Cannons, a ticket program designed to bring joy to children and their families staying at The Children’s Inn at the National Institutes of Health.
To vote John Lannan for the Roberto Clemente Award, click here: www.chevy.com/clemente
Below, Nationals players Tyler Clippard, Roger Bernadina and Mike Morse, along with some members of the US Marine Corps, hand out the Inside Pitch magazine to fans entering the park.