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Roberto Clemente: Career Retrospective | Yard Barker – MLB Sports

Usually, when we write a career retrospective, we can talk about living legends and talk about their post-career life. They turn to television and coaching and give Hall of Fame speeches.Unfortunately, that wasn’t possible Roberto Clemente.. His incredible career and life have been tragically shortened. Still, when he dies, his influence is still felt, both inside and outside the field. Let’s look back at everything that Clemente managed to achieve before being taken away from us too soon.

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Clemente begins his career in Puerto Rico

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Clemente was born in Carolina, Puerto Rico, the youngest of seven children. He started playing baseball in high school and became a professional at the age of 18 when he signed a play with bench player Cangreheros de Santurus.

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Clemente is signed by the Dodgers franchise

Clemente is signed by the Dodgers franchise

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Clemente may be considered a typical Pittsburgh Pirates, but that’s not where his career began on the mainland. While playing the pro ball in Puerto Rico, he caught the attention of the Brooklyn Dodgers. They signed him a deal with Triple A affiliate Montreal Royals and began his career in Clemente’s minor leagues.

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Beginning in Montreal

Beginning in Montreal

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Roberto moved to Montreal in 1954 and began playing at the Royals. Of course, there were some issues with coordination, especially given the language barrier. Fortunately, he had some bilingual teammates to help him. Despite his promise as a player, Clemente didn’t actually play tons in his time with the Royals.

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Pirates Draft Clemente is the first overall

Pirates Draft Clemente is the first overall

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Baseball was different from the 1950s. The Dodgers had a minor league contract with Clemente, but were not bound by the franchise. He qualified for the MLB draft because he played for the Royals. When Clyde Sukeforth’s pitching coach noticed Clemente, Pirates was scouting Clyde Sukefor’s teammate pitcher Joe Black. Skeforce says he told the Macon manager in Montreal that day to take care of Clemente. Because the pirates take him first overall. Indeed, Skeforce and Pittsburgh were faithful to their words in 1954.

Early struggle

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Clemente joined the pirates in the 1955 season, but it wasn’t the easiest transition. For starters, he missed time with an injury caused by a car accident in Puerto Rico. Second, Clemente has to deal with being a black ancestor as well as the Caribbean, and Jackie Robinson made his debut just seven years ago. In his first season, Clemente hit .255 and on-base percentage was less than .300.

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Historical moment

Historical moment

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The 1956 season was a little better for Clemente. Not only did he hit .311 but he was also responsible for the only documented park walk-off Grand Slam in MLB history. But it wasn’t until 1958 until the pirates entered the victorious season.

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Clemente is an all-star and pirates are champions

Clemente is an all-star and pirates are champions

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By 1960, pirates had turned things around, and Clemente was a major reason. He played the first of 15 All-Star games, and Pittsburgh won 95 games to win the National League pennant. The Pirates defeated the Yankees in the World Series, giving Clemente his first championship.

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Roberto wins his first Gold Glove Award and batting title

Roberto wins his first Gold Glove Award and batting title

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The next season wasn’t very good for Pirates, but it was a great season for Clemente personally. He won his first batting title by hitting .351, and in addition he also won his first a whopping 12 Gold Glove.

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Two more batting titles

Two more batting titles

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The average hit was probably Clemente’s greatest strength as a player (he was a defensively strong player, but advanced defensive stats aren’t as kind to him as the story of the time). In 1964 and 1965 he won consecutive batting titles in the National League.

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Clemente wins NLMVP

Clemente wins NLMVP

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In 1966, Clemente released the kind of count statistics that voters loved, including 29 home runs and 119 RBIs. He also significantly reduced .317 / .360 / .536 while playing a good defense in the Pittsburgh outfield. Clemente’s efforts earned him the National League MVP, defeating Hank Aaron’s 44 home runs, and Sandy Koufax winning the pitching triple crown.

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Roberto spends his best season on the plate

Roberto spends his best season on the plate

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1966 was good for Clemente, but the 1967 season was actually even better. He won his last batting title by hitting the best .357 in his career. Clemente also hit 23 home runs and 110 RBIs. He posted a 7.7 WAR, which is also the best of his career, but failed to win his second MVP award.

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Pirates move from Forbes Field to Three Rivers Stadium

Pirates move from Forbes Field to Three Rivers Stadium

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Pirates called Forbes Field home from 1906 to 1970. This means that Clemente spent years patroling the outfield. However, during the 1970 season, Pirates moved to the Three Rivers Stadium. It was hard for Clemente, who said he had played half his life at Forbes Field. Early in the life of the Three Rivers, the pirates hosted Roberto Clemente Night to celebrate him and his Puerto Rican heritage.

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Pittsburgh wins another World Series, Clemente is MVP

Pittsburgh wins another World Series, Clemente is MVP

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Clemente and Pirates returned to the World Series in 1971 to face defending champion Baltimore Orioles. Baltimore was my favorite, but Pirates was able to win the series in seven games. Clemente hit .414 in the World Series and Pittsburgh won 2-1 in Round 7 to hit a home run. As a result, Roberto was selected as the World Series MVP.

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Clemente wins 3000th hit

Clemente wins 3000th hit

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In 1972, Clemente turned 38 and slowed down a bit as a player. Due to his injury he was limited to 102 games, but the season still reached .312. One of those hits happened on September 30th, when he recorded his 3,000th hit in front of a crowd at home. This will be the last hit of Clemente’s career.

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Roberto sets a record for Pirates

Roberto sets a record for Pirates

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Clemente didn’t hit the bat again in the 1972 season after recording his 3,000th hit, but made a defensive replacement in the October game, which acted as another milestone. By appearing in that game, Clemente passed Honus Wagner in most games played as pirates.

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Clemente’s tragic death

Clemente's tragic death

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Throughout his career, Clemente has carried out a tremendous amount of philanthropy, especially throughout Latin America. In December 1972, an earthquake struck Managua, the capital of Nicaragua. Clemente repeatedly sent relief supplies to Managua, but was diverted by corrupt government officials. With this in mind, Clemente decided to personally participate in his fourth relief effort. The plane he chartered was understaffed and overloaded, but they still took off from New York on New Year’s Eve. Sadly, the plane crashed into the Atlantic Ocean that night, and everyone, including Clemente, boarded and died in an accident.

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Inducted into the Hall of Fame after death

Inducted into the Hall of Fame after death

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Traditionally, players had to retire for five years before being inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. However, given the tragic situation surrounding Clemente, baseball has moved to change the rules. If a player dies, it only takes 6 months for the player to qualify. Clemente was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in March 1973 and won 92.7 percent of the votes.

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Pirates retire from Clemente’s number

Pirates retire from Clemente's number

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Clemente wore 13 for the first six weeks as a pirate, but then switched to number 21 and wore it for the rest of his career. Perhaps the most iconic pirate player to date, Pittsburgh has naturally retired his number. They also erected his statue in front of PNC Park, a park that replaced the Three Rivers Stadium.

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Roberto Clemente Awards Announced

Roberto Clemente Awards Announced

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In 1971, MLB announced the Commissioner Award. It is intended for players who combine field skills with a dedication to philanthropy and community improvement. However, in 1973 the award was renamed the Roberto Clemente Award. This is very appropriate considering how much he has done for those in need.

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Hall of Fame and Humanitarian

Hall of Fame and Humanitarian

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Clemente has created 15 all-star teams, winning 12 Gold Glove, 4 batting titles and 1 MVP. He was the first Latin American and Caribbean player to be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. In 2003, George W. Bush was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom after his death. Since Clemente, many talented players have come out of Puerto Rico. In a sense, they are all in debt to Clemente. His death was truly tragic, but we never lose sight of the fact that he died trying to help those in need.


– MLB Sports

Roberto Clemente: Career Retrospective | Yard Barker

https://www.yardbarker.com/mlb/articles/roberto_clemente_career_retrospective/s1__33449624 Roberto Clemente: Career Retrospective | Yard Barker

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