Sports in Puerto Rico

Click below to view the other pages:

Home Page




Athletic History and Cultural Identity

Related Links

This site was created for American Culture 213: Introduction to Latino Studies at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor

El Museo Latino | Bibliography | Credits | Site Map

Roberto Clemente

Biography and Impact

Roberto Clemente is remembered as Puerto Rico 's greatest baseball player of all time. His name is mentioned in the same ranks as other baseball greats such as Babe Ruth and Hank Aaron. Born in 1934, he was noticed at a young age for his baseball talent. At the age of 19, he was signed to the Dodgers' minor league team, but because of salary requirements the Pittsburg Pirates were able to sign him the next year who at that time were in last place.

Clemente's baseball career was nothing short of greatness. He led the Pirates to the World Series in 1960, 1970, and 1971 with victories all but 1970. He won batting titles in 1961, 1964, 1965, and 1967. He was one of only eleven players at the time to reach the 3,000 hit mark. Defensively, he was feared for his powerful arm. Lurking in right field, he won the assist title five times. Runners were notorious for being scared to run from first base to third on singles hit to right field. Clemente, now known as "The Great One", retired from the sport in 1972 following back pains.

Clemente often vocalized his detest for being overlooked in the media during his career. Writers and fans chose to pay much more attention to the American born players like Willy Mays and Hank Aaron, both of whom shared the flashy style of Clemente in catching fly balls (4).

Clemente was considered a national hero in Puerto Rico . He was idolized and represented the best talent Puerto Rico had to offer. What set Clemente apart from his peers, however, was his compassion and generosity for giving back to underprivileged people. After a devastating earthquake hit Nicaragua in 1972, Clemente personally took flight to bring over supplies and food. Unfortunately due to bad weather and an unstable aircraft, the plane crashed off the coast of Puerto Rico killing Clemente. This event shocked not only the Baseball world, but the entire island of Puerto Rico went into mourning. His body was never recovered.

Just one year later, Clemente was inducted into Baseball's Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, NY, bypassing the traditional five year waiting period. A memorial was built in his honor in his home town of Carolina where a 12 foot statue of the player stands.

Roberto Clemente is known as the greatest Latino role model for all Latino athletes playing in America today. He often used his on camera interviews to address Latinos and Latinas in the United States, speaking to them in Spanish. To this day, Puerto Rican children grow up to learn of this great hero. His legacy is long lasting; most Latino baseball players are still known to give a lot back to their native communities after the great Clemenete once did (5).

Additional Pictures

Roberto Clemente at the Hall of Fame

Next Page: Basketball

Back to Baseball

© 2004 University of Michigan