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Roberto Clemente. Photo: Louis Requena/MLB via Getty Images and PA Sen. Bob Casey, one of the supporters of the resolution. Photo: AL DÍA Archives.
Roberto Clemente. Photo: Louis Requena/MLB via Getty Images and PA Sen. Bob Casey, one of the supporters of the resolution. Photo: AL DÍA Archives.

Puerto Rican baseball great Roberto Clemente honored with new resolution

The U.S. Senate passed the resolution ahead of the 50th anniversary of Clemente’s 3,000th regular season hit.

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September 15 is nationally recognized as the start of Hispanic Heritage Month in the United States, and for baseball fans, also Roberto Clemente Day in the Major Baseball League. 

On that day this year, U.S. Senators Bob Casey (D-PA), Bob Menendez (D-NJ) and Pat Toomey (R-PA) introduced a resolution to honor both the athletic career and humanitarian and civic work of Roberto Clemente.

The resolution was passed two weeks later, on September 29. The day falls on the eve of the 50th anniversary of Clemente’s 3,000th career regular season hit.

“Half a century after his greatest accomplishment on the baseball field, this resolution honors his legacy as a legendary Pittsburgh Pirate whose athletic skills were matched only by his commitment to humanitarian work and his tenacity in the face of discrimination,”  said Senator Casey in a statement. 

The resolution formally recognizes Clemente’s overall legacy as a prominent Afro-Latino baseball player who had to overcome great adversity and discrimination to reach his success. 

During his 18-year MLB career with the Pittsburgh Pirates, Clemente was a 15-time All Star, a 12-time Gold Glove winner, a four-time NL batting champion and two-time World Series Champion.

As impressive as his on-field career was, his impact was felt far beyond, due to his immense philanthropic efforts.

“He forever transformed the game of baseball and relentlessly advocated for Latinos and people of color in his native Puerto Rico and everywhere else,” said Senator Menendez.

During the offseason, Clemente often visited his homeland in Puerto Rico to do charity work, helping countless individuals and families. He was also known to travel throughout Latin America to donate food, clothing and baseball equipment to families and children in need. 

Rob Manfred, MLB Commissioner, said that Clemente is “one of our sport’s greatest humanitarians.”

“His Hall of Fame career on the field combined with his generosity away from it has left an indelible legacy in our game. As we celebrate Roberto Clemente Day… his philanthropic impact continues to inspire our players who are giving back to their communities in extraordinary ways,” added Manfred. 

Clemente’s philanthropic commitment remained with him literally through his final moment, as he passed away in a plane crash while on his way to Nicaragua to deliver relief supplies after a devastating earthquake hit the nation’s capital city. 

He was posthumously inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame the following year, becoming the first Latino American to be elected. 

“Since then, 17 Latino stars have followed in his footsteps to Cooperstown – with many more set to join him in bronze immortality in the years to come,” said Josh Rawitch, President of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. 

Nearly 50 years after his untimely death, his impact and influence continues to be felt. 

“To this day, Clemente remains an idol to Latin American ballplayers and fans everywhere. With this resolution, on Roberto Clemente Day, the U.S. Senate recognizes Clemente’s incredible life and legacy,” said Toomey. 

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