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Roberto Clemente

Baseball Player

Born: 18 August 1934
Died: 31 December 1972 (airplane crash)
Birthplace: Carolina, Puerto Rico
Best known as: The first Hispanic in the Baseball Hall of Fame

Name at birth: Roberto Clemente Walker

Roberto Clemente had exactly 3000 hits in his major league career before he died in a 1972 plane crash while taking supplies to Nicaraguan earthquake victims. Clemente was already a baseball legend, a rangy right fielder who was four times batting champ of the National League (1961, 1964, 1965 and 1967) and twelve times a Gold Glove winner for defensive prowess. He was especially known for his headlong baserunning, cannon arm, and penchant for swinging at nose-high fastballs. Clemente played his entire major league career (1955-72) with the Pittsburgh Pirates, and won two World Series with the team: in 1960 (over the New York Yankees) and in 1971 (over the Baltimore Orioles). He was named the league's most valuable player in 1966. Clemente got his 3000th hit on the last day of the regular season in 1972. That December, when an earthquake devastated parts of Nicaragua, Clemente organized relief flights from Puerto Rico and boarded one of the flights himself; he died when the plane crashed into the ocean on 31 December 1972. The next year he was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame, becoming its first Hispanic member.

Extra credit: Clemente wore uniform #21... He was voted into the Baseball Hall of Fame less than three months after his death; the Hall of Fame waived the rule requiring a five-year waiting period after the end of a player's career... His lifetime batting average was .317... He batted a gaudy .414 in the 1971 World Series and was named the series MVP... Major League Baseball gives an annual Roberto Clemente Award to "the player who best exemplifies the game of baseball, sportsmanship, community involvement and the individual's contribution to his team"... His full name has been the source of some confusion. Though he was known as Roberto Clemente, his family name was Roberto Clemente Walker; the Latin tradition is to have the mother's maiden name follow the paternal name. His Hall of Fame plaque originally read Roberto Walker Clemente, but was recast to read Roberto Clemente Walker in 2000... San Juan, Puerto Rico is sometimes listed as his place of birth; Carolina is a nearby suburb.

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