Roberto Clemente is the name heard around Puerto Rico, from coliseums and stadiums around the island named after him, to posters, statues, among other things around the island remembering the great Puerto Rican baseball legend. Clemente played for the Pittsburg Pirates for 18 seasons and has 3,000 major league hits. This legend set an example for Puerto Rican and Caribbean baseball players and was truly an exemplary human being. He died on December 31, 1972 as his plane crashes while delivering aid to Nicaragua after an earthquake, leaving behind a wife, three children and an island that will never forget him.
All Puerto Ricans know about him, even if we do not know anything about baseball, like me. We grow up hearing about him, seeing pictures and going to places named after him. He has become an important part of our history, leading the way to other Puerto Rican baseball players.
Today I got the chance to attend my first press conference which, to my great surprise, was part of the movement Retire 21. This movement tries to get the MLB to retire the number 21, Clemente’s number, from their roster. Not only is this movement aiming to retire the number 21 from Major League Baseball, but from all baseball teams in Puerto Rico, from professional teams down to infantile teams.
Today I got to see how young players from the Puerto Rico Baseball Academy and Carlos Beltran Baseball Academy, Liga Profesional Roberto Clemente de Puerto Rico, and Federación de Beisbol Aficionado de Puerto Rico payed respect to Roberto Clemente. The boys formally handed over their number 21 team shirts, retiring the number from each of their teams.
I invite everyone to check out Retire 21 and sign the petition.