Reberto Clemente

An important person in baseball history


Roberto Clemente Walker was born on August 18, 1934, in Barrio San Antón, Carolina, Puerto Rico. He was the youngest of seven children. His father was a foreman overseeing sugar-cane cutters and helped deliver sand and gravel for a construction company. His mother did laundry, ran a grocery store and did other jobs on the sugar-cane plantation. Roberto did odd jobs so he could help the family and buy himself a bicycle. Growing up, Roberto played baseball and participated in track and field. He won medals for the javelin throw and short distance races. Throwing the javelin strengthened his arm for throwing a baseball.

Time Line

August 18, 1934: Roberto Clemente Walker is born in Carolina, Puerto Rico. Walker is his mother's last name. His Hall of Fame plaque will read Roberto Clemente Walker.

October 9, 1952: Clemente signs with the Santurce Crabbers of the Puerto Rican winter league for $5,000.

1953: The Brooklyn Dodgers, who broke baseball's color barrier with Jackie Robinson, sign Clemente for $10,000.

1960: The Pittsburgh Pirates win the World Series. Clemente feels slighted after finishing 8th in the National League Most Valuable Player voting.

November 14, 1964: Clemente marries Vera Cristina Zabala in San Juan, Puerto Rico. They will go on to have three children: Roberto Jr., Luis Roberto and Enrique Roberto.

September 30, 1972: Clemente doubles against the New York Mets in his last game of the season, marking career hit 3,000. He is the first Latin player and just the 11th in baseball history (at that time) to reach the milestone. He dedicates the hit to "the Pittsburgh fans and to the people in Puerto Rico."

December 23, 1972: A devastating earthquake hits Managua, Nicaragua. Clemente decides to gather relief supplies and help deliver them to quake survivors.

December 31, 1972: The plane Clemente charters for his humanitarian mission crashes into the ocean shortly after takeoff, killing the baseball star and four crew members.

March 20, 1973: In an unprecedented move, The Baseball Hall of Fame unanimously waives the customary five-year period for induction, allowing the Baseball Writers Association of America to hold a special election on Clemente's behalf.

August 6, 1973: Clemente is inducted into Baseball's Hall of Fame. He is the first Latin-born player so honored.

Roberto Clemente's 3,000th Hit


- If you have a chance to accomplish something that will make things better for people coming behind you, and you don't do that, you are wasting your time on this earth.

- I am more valuable to my team hitting .330 then swinging for home runs.

- To the people here, we are outsiders. Foreigners.

-I want to be remembered as a ballplayer who gave all I had to give.

- If I would be happy, I would be a very bad ball player. With me, when I get mad, it puts energy in my body.

- Baseball has been very good to me.

- I am convinced that God wanted me to be a baseball player.

- I was born to play baseball.

His Death

Roberto was known for his humanitarian efforts. He helped people in need across the United States and Central America and held free baseball clinics for children in Puerto Rico. In 1972, an earthquake struck Managua, the capital of Nicaragua. Roberto had managed a Puerto Rican all-star team in Managua, and he had friends there. He became the honorary chairman of an earthquake relief committee that raised $150,000, and gathered nearly 26 tons of relief supplies. Tragically, on New Year’s Eve, he died when the plane he was onto deliver the supplies crashed into the Atlantic Ocean.

Normally, a player cannot be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame until at least five years after he stopped playing. An exception was made for Roberto, and he was inducted in 1973. After his death, Major League Baseball established the Roberto Clemente award recognizing the player who combines outstanding skills on the field with devoted work in the community. Broadcaster Tim McCarver called Roberto, “the greatest right fielder of all time,” because of his precise and powerful throwing arm. Roberto once said, “If you have a chance to accomplish something that will make things better for people coming behind you, and you don’t do that, you are wasting your time on this earth.” Roberto also said, “I want to be remembered as a ballplayer who gave all he had to give.”



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