Every year on April 15, Major League Baseball has Jackie Robinson Day in honor of the player who broke the color barrier in the MLB. Robinson is not only remembered as being a great player, but is also noted for his use of nonviolence as he was bombarded with hatred and threats of violence though his career.
Teams and players honor Robinson on his day by wearing his number, 42. However, he is also honored throughout the season as his number is retired universally in the MLB.
There is another player who in the eyes of many people is as great as Robinson. A player and a humanitarian.
Roberto Clemente was a Puerto Rican baseball player who played 18 seasons in the MLB with the Pittsburgh Pirates from 1955 to 1972. In his career, he was able to win two World Series championships, hit 240 home runs and is part of the 3,000 hits club.
Clemente was also a philanthropist and did not do it for personal or public admiration, but because he knew the struggle of growing up in poverty being that he lived it. He always reached out to the youth, despite his busy schedule, holding baseball clinics in both the United States and his native Puerto Rico.
Clemente was quoted as saying “Everyone knows I've been struggling all my life. I believe that every human being is equal, but one has to fight hard all the time to maintain that equality.”
His given nature tragically ended is life as Clemente died in a plane crash on its way to Nicaragua with aid for earthquake victims on Dec. 31, 1972. He was 38.
At the moment, the Pittsburgh Pirates are the only team in baseball to have his number, 21, retired. Not only would the creation of ‘Roberto Clemente Day’ allow fans old and new to remember this great player and person, but it would also resonate with the demography of the MLB.
A large percentage of the baseball player in the MLB are Latino, with a large number of them being Afro-Latino. Clemente was an Afro-Latino.
For now, Clemente is remembered by many, but it would not hurt to see him remembered and honored by all.