Marty Lurie Talks San Francisco Giants Baseball

Clemente's #21 should be retired

Major League Baseball is seriously thinking of retiring Roberto Clemente’s #21 uniform
and installing the number in all 30 MLB parks
(just like Jackie Robinson’s #42).
The idea is good and this is why I think it will happen.

By Amaury Pi-GonzálezRoberto Clemente was the first Hispanic player of impact in the Major Leagues. Not only because he
won 4 batting titles or hit over .300 during his career or won 12 Gold Gloves and was selected for 12 All Star games and was inducted into the Hall of Fame. but because what he really represented to baseball and Hispanics in general.

Personally I am not one that likes to retire players numbers just for the sake of promotion, but in the
case of Clemente I think is a good idea. Here is a man that died as he chartered a plane full of food and clothing and general aid to the people of
the 1972 Managua,Nicaragua earthquake. He left his own country with a plane full of help for people he didn’t know in another country, to help and
was doing it without much publicity. His plane
vanished north of San Juan,Puerto Rico shortly after take off and -to this day-his body has never been found, That was in 1972. Destiny had it that he will hit his 3,000 hit and that would be his last one, three months later he was dead.

Major League Baseball gives the Roberto Clemente Humanitarian Award each year and if MLB decides to retire his famous #21 in all of the 30 MLB parks, that would be historical as well as the logical think to do in a game that has become more Hispanic than ever. The Office of the Commissioner and the Major League Baseball Players Union recently organized the first World Baseball Classic and Roberto Clemente would have loved to be present for such ocassion. Vera Clemente is Roberto’s widow. I have interviewed her and the first thing she would always said is that Roberto was so proud to be in the Major League and to represent his country, Puerto Rico, all the time.
Major League Baseball is also increasing their overall marketing in reaching the Hispanics in the United States and retiring Clemente’s #21 in all
ballparks would fit perfectly towards that goal.
It will bring Hispanics closer to the game of baseball as the game recognizes and honors one of the great ones from Latin America. It just makes a lot of sense.

The interesting thing here is that MLB has never retired Babe Ruth’s number in all the ballparks and it is hard to find anybody, anybody in american sports that changed a sport more than El Bambino.
Then the Yankees (who have 15 numbers retired at Yankee Stadium)have the distinction of having the same number retired twice. Catchers Bill Dickey and Yogi Berra’s #8 were retired twice by the same team. So, so much for retired numbers…

Jackie Robinson opened the door to players of color, Roberto Clemente did very similar, he is a symbol and emblem in Latin America that Hispanic
players can make it here in the Major Leagues.
Retiring his number 21 will be healthy for baseball in general. Among all the great players from Latin America Roberto Clemente is still an icon, so much that the US Postal Office printed a stamp of Roberto Clemente, he is like Robinson, a historical figure. Clemente had to endure racism against blacks and Hispanics and he would be proud to be recognized by the game he always loved.

When pitcher Emiliano Fruto went to work in Anaheim on May 14, 2006 he became the very first pitcher born in Colombia to pitch in a Major League game. Fruto from Cartagena,Colombia also made history when in the seventh inning faced his fellow
countryman Orlando Cabrera, Angels shortstop, making this the first time that a Colombian pitched
to a Colombian in a Major League game.

According to history books the first player ever from Colombia was one of the very first Hispanics to play in the majors, Luis Castro in 1902, then came Jackie Gutierrez,Yamid Haad, Orlando Ramírez, Jolbert Cabrera(who also played for the Mariners and is currently a star in Japan) Orlando Cabrera and Edgar Rentería.


1 Anonymous { 05.26.06 at 6:47 pm }

Dear Amaury

I like the concept but I’m not sure baseball would act.
Just a feeling I get. I do have a story about how important
Roberto was. Several years ago,the A’s had a player by the
name of Ruben Sierra. I believe Sierra was from Puerto Rico
and he idolized Roberto Clemente. One year, I think it was 1994,Ruben played well enough to be selected to the American League All Star team. He wore number 21 and the
game was played at 3 rivers stadium in Pittsburgh.Ruben
told me he was overcome with emotion standing in the same spot and wearing the same number as his hero,Roberto Clemente.
This is all true
Jerry Feitelberg

2 Anonymous { 09.22.07 at 1:13 pm }

3 Anonymous { 09.22.07 at 1:50 pm }

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