The No. 21 will be seen on jerseys across Major League Baseball on Wednesday, the start of National Hispanic Heritage Month.
Puerto Rican players and on-field staff had the opportunity to wear island legend Roberto Clemente’s number last season, and will do so again this year. Each Sept. 15 going forward will be known as Roberto Clemente Day, the league announced on Tuesday.
Players who have won the Roberto Clemente Award, “the most prestigious individual honor for major leaguers” and recognizes philanthropic efforts, are also eligible to wear No. 21. All of the Pittsburgh Pirates, the team Clemente spent his entire 18-year career with, will also wear No. 21.
Players on active rosters who have won the award include fellow Albert Pujols (Dodgers), Clayton Kershaw (Dodgers), Carlos Carrasco (Mets) and Anthony Rizzo (Yankees).
Each MLB team announced its nominee for this year’s award on Tuesday. Notable nominees include Max Scherzer, Miguel Cabrera, Pete Alonso, Bo Bichette and Mike Trout.
Boston Red Sox manager Alex Cora became the first manager from Puerto Rico to win the World Series with the Sox in 2018. Nationals skipper Dave Martinez followed by leading the Washington Nationals to a title the next year. The other active MLB manager from Puerto Rico is the Toronto Blue Jays’ Charlie Montoyo.
“They always say that Clemente never showed fear,” Cora said. “And in many ways, he demonstrated showed the world what happens when you fight for what you believe to be true and for human rights.”
All MLB jerseys will feature a “21” patch to honor Clemente, who played for the Pittsburgh Pirates from 1955-1972 and is a Hall of Famer.
He fought for all, Cora said, players Black and from Latin America and even for his white teammates.
“And he did it in the right way,” Cora added.
Clemente died on Dec. 31, 1972, in a plane accident shortly after takeoff from his native Puerto Rico to supply humanitarian add in Nicaragua following an earthquake there.
At the time of his death at age 38, Clemente sat on exactly 3,000 hits and made 15 All-Star Games (in 16 years). He played one of the greatest right fields of all time and won 12 consecutive Gold Gloves.
He was a World Series champion in 1960 and 1971, the latter of which he was named series MVP. Clemente won the 1966 National League MVP and four batting titles in the 1960s.
“For all us Latinos who have played Major League Baseball, and have had to deal with so many obstacles, difficulties and challenges, Clemente is the source of inspiration we need to move forward and pursue our dreams and be an example to others on and off the field,” St. Louis Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina, who wore No. 21 last season, told ESPN. “We hope this day continues to perpetuate the remarkable legacy of No. 21.”
Follow Chris Bumbaca on Twitter @BOOMbaca.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Roberto Clemente day: Puerto Rican MLB players, Pirates wear No. 21
Source: Yahoo Sports