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Team: Pittsburgh Pirates
Roberto Clemente was born in Carolina, Puerto Rico on August 18th 1934. He was the first
Hispanic baseball player to be inducted into the baseball Hall of Fame. He was also the second baseball
player to be put on a postage stamp. Roberto Clemente was plagued with back pain during his career, but
still he proved to be one of the greatest baseball players of all time.
Roberto Clemente had always like baseball. He was also fortunate to join a professional Puerto
Rican baseball team at the age of 17. He spent his first season with the Brooklyn Dodgers farm team. He
was thinking about quitting because he was treated very strangely. The franchise was trying to hide
Clemente from the Giants so when he played good, they would bench him. But when he did bad, they
would keep him in the game.
Clemente later returned to Puerto Rico after his first, disappointing season to visit his brother, who
was dying from a brain tumor. While he was there, a drunk driver smashed into his car and permanently
damaged three spinal discs, which would bother him through the rest of his career.
In 1954, the Pittsburgh Pirates drafted Clemente for $4,000 and put him out in right field. During
his first season he gunned down 18 runners. He got 20 runners out in his second season. In his second
season he had a .311 batting average and had 5 homeruns. Then in 1958 he led the National League in
outfield assists with 22.
In 1960 Clemente had a fantastic year. He hit 16 homers, batted .314 and had 94 R.B.I?s (runs
batted in). He led his team to the National League pennant. And shocked the nation with an upset over the
Yankees in the World Series. Clemente batted .310 for the series.
He won his first batting title in 1961, hitting .351 with 23 homers, 10 triples, and 89 RBIs.
Clemente used to overswing the bat and his head would "bob" when he swung a bat. So Clemente started
using a heavier bat. After that he went on to enjoy 11 of 12 seasons with his batting average above .300.
In late December of 1972 an earthquake struck Nicaragua. More than 6,000 people were killed,
20,000 injured. After hearing that some of the supplies they had sent to Nicaragua were not getting to the
right people, Clemente decided to take matters into his own hands. He flew to Nicaragua in a cargo plane
and make sure that distribution was carried out properly.
On New Year's Eve he boarded an overloaded DC-7 Air Force Plane that he rented for $4,000 to
fly to Nicaragua. The plane crashed into the ocean shortly after takeoff.
Roberto Clemente was the first Hispanic baseball player ever inducted into the Baseball Hall of
Fame, and in 1994 a statue of him was unveiled at Three Rivers Stadium at the all-star game.
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