MLB honors Clemente's legacy across baseball

September 15th, 2023

On Friday, MLB celebrated the 22nd annual Roberto Clemente Day, honoring the legacy of one of baseball’s greatest players and humanitarians nearly 51 years after his tragic passing.

Clemente, a native of Puerto Rico, died in a plane crash at the age of 38 on New Year’s Eve 1972 while delivering emergency aid to earthquake victims in Nicaragua. He was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1973, becoming the first player from Latin America to be enshrined in Cooperstown.

A 15-time All-Star and 12-time Gold Glove Award winner, Clemente finished his career with exactly 3,000 hits, won four batting titles and was named the 1966 NL MVP. He also helped the Pirates win two World Series championships and earned MVP honors after Pittsburgh defeated Baltimore in the 1971 Fall Classic, having hit .414 with two homers and a 1.210 OPS in the Pirates’ seven-game triumph over the Orioles.

MLB established Roberto Clemente Day in 2002 and continues to celebrate the late Hall of Famer every Sept. 15, which coincides with the start of National Hispanic Heritage Month.

Clemente is obviously a truly special figure in Pittsburgh, and now in the Steel City and across the entire commonwealth of Pennsylvania, September 15 will also officially be known as Roberto Clemente Day, following a proclamation ceremony that took place in the shadow of The Great One's statue at PNC Park.

On Friday morning, Pirates Clemente Award nominee David Bednar, Pirates staff and partner volunteers, visited patients at the Allegheny Health Network Cancer Institute. The group handed out breakfast pastries, coffee and ticket vouchers to Cancer Institute staff and patients and also made and delivered care/comfort packages to patients.

This effort was part of the Pirates’ Day of Service, which happened simultaneously throughout Pittsburgh. Every player and coach on the active roster participated. Other efforts include a renovation project to improve the Southside Nike RBI field, a food preparation and re-stocking service event at a Women’s Center & Shelter, a care package build at PNC Park in support of active military service men & women and a pantry & toy donation at the Pittsburgh Latino Community Center.

All players and on-field personnel across baseball will wear “21” patches on their uniform chests on Friday in honor of Clemente, who donned No. 21 throughout his esteemed career.

All Pirates players and members of the coaching staff wore No. 21 for Friday’s game against the Yankees, with Joshua Palacios carrying a Puerto Rico flag with him out to right field to start the game.

All 2023 nominees for the Roberto Clemente Award presented by Capital One, which recognizes MLB players for philanthropic efforts in their communities, will also have the option of wearing No. 21, joining players from Puerto Rico and others who wore the number during previous commemorations of Roberto Clemente Day.

Additionally, all active players who have previously won the Roberto Clemente Award will wore a “21” patch on the back of their caps in recognition of this distinct honor.

Fans can learn more about the efforts of this year’s Roberto Clemente Award nominees and participate in the voting process by visiting this website.