The final day of 2022 will mark 50 years since one of the most tragic events in baseball history. On Dec. 31, 1972, Roberto Clemente was killed in a plane crash while he was on his way to deliver emergency supplies to an earthquake-ravaged Nicaragua.
On Thursday, MLB celebrates the 21st annual Roberto Clemente Day, and with it, commemorates the passage of a half-century since the Hall of Famer’s death. The Pirates, for whom Clemente played his entire 18-year Major League career, will play the Mets at Citi Field in New York, with all players, managers and coaches for both clubs donning Clemente’s No. 21 on their uniforms. The game will be televised nationally by FOX at 7 p.m. ET.
Clemente was a 15-time All-Star, a 12-time Gold Glove Award winner in right field, the 1966 National League MVP, a four-time batting champion and helped lead the Pirates to World Series titles in 1960 and ’71 -- getting at least one hit in all 14 games he played. He was named MVP of the 1971 Fall Classic, in which Pittsburgh defeated the Orioles in seven games -- Clemente hit .414 with two doubles, one triple and two home runs. He had exactly 3,000 hits in his magnificent MLB career.
Each year, MLB honors one player with the Roberto Clemente Award presented by Capital One for best representing the game of baseball through extraordinary character, community involvement, philanthropy and positive contributions, both on and off the field. There is one nominee for the prestigious honor from each of the 30 MLB clubs, and this year’s nominees were announced last week. While all players around MLB will wear a special “21” patch on their uniform sleeves on Thursday, Clemente Award nominees will have language on their patches reflecting their nomination.
In addition, Clemente Award nominees, as well as all prior Clemente Award winners who are active players, will have the option of wearing No. 21 on their uniforms, joining players from Clemente’s native Puerto Rico and others who wore No. 21 on their uniforms during the 2021 Roberto Clemente Day celebration. Active players who have won the Clemente Award will also have a special “21” patch on the back of their caps.
Retired players who are Clemente Award winners will also be at Citi Field to participate in a food packaging volunteer event with Rise Against Hunger, joining Commissioner Rob Manfred, employees from the Commissioner’s Office and the Mets. The Clemente Award winners will be honored during a special pregame ceremony with members of the Clemente family.
MLB Network’s “MLB Tonight” will air live from Citi Field on Thursday at 6 p.m., and that will be followed at 7 p.m. by a special new episode of “MLB Tonight: The Conversation.” The program will feature hosts Harold Reynolds and Pedro Martinez, along with special guests and Roberto Clemente Award winners Albert Pujols, Derek Jeter, Jimmy Rollins, Ozzie Smith, Rod Carew, Curtis Granderson and Nelson Cruz. The show will also feature special guest Luis Clemente, son of Roberto and Vera.
In every ballpark across MLB, a customized tribute video to both Roberto and his wife, Vera, entitled “Momentito” (in English and Spanish) will be shown. The video will also appear on MLB Network, MLB.com, club sites and MLB social media platforms. Additional content celebrating Roberto’s legacy, as well as the impact of the late Vera Clemente, who served as MLB’s Goodwill Ambassador, will be featured throughout the day on MLB social media platforms. MLB.com and all 30 club sites will feature Roberto Clemente Day and award stories and content as well.