Who Is Number 21 Baseball?
Baseball has been America’s pastime for generations, and with each team having 25 players, there are many numbers that are associated with the sport. One of the most recognizable numbers is 21, which is the number of the late Hall of Fame outfielder Roberto Clemente.
Early Life of Roberto Clemente
Roberto Clemente was born in Carolina, Puerto Rico, on August 18th, 1934. Growing up, he was a natural athlete and excelled in a variety of sports, including baseball. He was scouted by the Brooklyn Dodgers while playing in Puerto Rico, but they did not sign him due to his age.
Career in Major League Baseball
Clemente eventually signed with the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1954, and went on to have an illustrious career. He was a 12-time All-Star, four-time National League batting champion, and two-time World Series champion. He was also the first Latin American to be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.
The Significance of Number 21
Clemente’s number 21 has become synonymous with his legacy. He wore the number for all 18 of his seasons in Major League Baseball and it was retired by the Pirates in 1972, just months after he passed away in a plane crash. The number is also painted on the field in Pittsburgh and on the team’s jerseys.
The Legacy of Roberto Clemente
Clemente’s legacy extends far beyond the baseball diamond. He was known as a caring and generous person who was always willing to lend a helping hand. He was active in charity work, both in his native Puerto Rico and internationally. He was also a strong advocate for civil rights and was one of the first Latin American players to speak out against racial injustice.
Roberto Clemente Day
The legacy of Roberto Clemente lives on through Roberto Clemente Day, which was established in 1973 and is celebrated annually on August 18th. This day serves to honor Clemente’s life and achievements, both on and off the field. Teams around the league wear special uniforms with the number 21 on them to commemorate the occasion.
The Number 21 Across Baseball
In recent years, many players have chosen to wear the number 21 in honor of Roberto Clemente’s legacy. Some notable players who have worn the number include:
- Albert Pujols – The long-time Los Angeles Angels first baseman has worn number 21 since he entered the league in 2001.
- Miguel Cabrera – The Detroit Tigers slugger has worn the number since he came up in 2003.
- Josh Donaldson – The Atlanta Braves third baseman has worn number 21 since he joined the team in 2018.
Awards and Recognition for Roberto Clemente
Clemente has been honored with a variety of awards and recognitions in his name. In 1973, he was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, and in 1973, the Roberto Clemente Award was established by Major League Baseball. This award is given annually to a player who best exemplifies Clemente’s spirit through their community involvement.
Statue of Roberto Clemente
In 2019, a bronze statue of Roberto Clemente was unveiled outside of PNC Park in Pittsburgh. The statue is 8 feet tall and depicts Clemente in his iconic batting stance. It is a permanent reminder of the impact he had on the game of baseball and the city of Pittsburgh.
Roberto Clemente was an iconic figure in the game of baseball, and his legacy lives on through his number 21. He was a 12-time All-Star, a four-time National League batting champion, and a two-time World Series champion. He was also a generous humanitarian and a strong advocate for civil rights. His legacy will continue to inspire generations to come.