“If you have an opportunity to accomplish something that will make things better for someone coming behind you, and you don't do that, you are wasting your time on this earth.”
Roberto Clemente claimed that he had two lives: The first one when he was born in Puerto Rico in 1935 and the second when he arrived in Pittsburgh to play baseball in 1955. With incredible determination and intention, Clemente used his career as a Pittsburgh Pirate to erase “old opinions” about Latin American and black ballplayers being considered inferior that defined his time.
During National Hispanic Heritage Month, we shine a light on all that Roberto Clemente achieved to advance Latino social justice during his 18 seasons in the MLB. He did so by holding himself to the highest standards as both a ballplayer and a role model at a critical time when Latinos suffered from a lack of positive representation in the face of systemic and societal racism. In this way, he achieved a number of important firsts for the Latino community.
He was the first Latin American and Caribbean player to win a World Series as a starting position player (1960), to receive an NL MVP Award (1966), and to receive a World Series MVP Award (1971). He was also the first Latin American and Caribbean player to be inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame (1973). His character as a player and as a man was so exemplary that the MLB renamed its annual Commissioner's Award in his honor and bestows it upon the player who "best exemplifies the game of baseball, sportsmanship, community involvement and the individual's contribution to his team." Outspoken, courageous, and convicted, Clemente paved the way for generations of Latin Americans who followed in his footsteps to lead with their character rather than their color.
Officially licensed by Roberto Clemente.
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