Roberto Enrique Clemente Walker (August 18, 1934 – December 31, 1972) was a Puerto Rican professional baseball right fielder who played 18 seasons in Major League Baseball (MLB) for the Pittsburgh Pirates. He was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1973….thus becoming both the first Latin American and Caribbean player to be enshrined. His untimely death established the precedent that….as an alternative to the five-year retirement period….a player who has been deceased for at least six months is eligible for entry into the Hall of Fame.
Clemente was an All-Star for twelve seasons….while playing in fifteen All-Star Games. He was the NL Most Valuable Player in 1966….the NL batting leader in 1961, 1964, 1965 and 1967….and a Gold Glove Award winner for twelve consecutive seasons from 1961 through 1972. His batting average was over .300 for thirteen seasons….and he had 3,000 hits during his major league career….in which he also played in two World Series championships. Clemente is the first Latin American and Caribbean player to help win a World Series as a starter in 1960….to receive an NL MVP Award in 1966….and to receive a World Series MVP Award in 1971.
Roberto Clemente was involved in charity work in Latin American and Caribbean countries during the off-seasons….often delivering baseball equipment and food to those in need….when on December 31, 1972 he died in a plane crash while en route to deliver aid to earthquake victims in Nicaragua. He was 38 years old….and still one heck of a ballplayer.