Just being a top-level ballplayer on his way to racking up 3000 hits wasn’t enough for Roberto Clemente. The legendary right fielder enlisted in the United States Marines Corps during the 1958/59 off-season. While many major league players wintered in Puerto Rico and played ball, Roberto spent six months on active duty at Parris Island, South Carolina, and Camp LeJeune, North Carolina. He ended up serving during every off-season until 1964. The rigorous training he received during that first 6 months helped Clemente physically by gaining ten pounds of muscle and ridding him of long-time back pain.
Today, Roberto’s military legacy is being recognized. He was inducted into the Marine Corps Sports Hall of Fame in 2003 and was inducted into the Puerto Rican Veterans Hall of Fame 15 years later. In 2015, a bust of Roberto was unveiled at the Puerto Rican Veterans Memorial in Boston. The military was an important part of his life and his pride as a Puerto Rican and an American. Along with only 6 others out of his 130-member platoon, he was promoted to private first class. But, Roberto’s legacy is that his drive didn’t end at personal achievement — his true drive was built on much more: “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.”
In keeping with the spirit of their service, we have partnered with our friends Jay Glazer and Nate Boyer at MVP (Merging Vets and Players). In addition to normal royalties going to the estates of our featured Icons, we will be matching the royalty proceeds and donating them to MVP.
MVP empowers combat veterans and former professional athletes by connecting them after the uniform comes off; providing them with a new team to assist with the transition, promote personal development, and show them they are never alone.
Officially licensed by Roberto Clemente.
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