Tonight on September 9, 2020, the Pittsburgh Pirates and the rest of Major League Baseball will pay tribute to one of the greatest human beings ever to play the game.
This year, for the league’s 19th annual Roberto Clemente Day celebration, the Pirates will do something they’ve never done before, have every uniformed player, coach, and manager suit up wearing Clemente’s legendary number 21.
The rest of the league will also participate by wearing white patches a 21 in black on their jersey sleeves.
Since Clemente’s untimely death in a plane crash during a humanitarian mission to Nicaragua in 1972, no Pirates player has worn 21. The team retired the number at their home opener in 1973 reserving its future use only for any of Clemente’s children, should they reach the big leagues.
“I became the closest to have that honour, but didn’t continue to play to reach the Major League level,” said Clemente’s son Luis who played seven games for the Pirates’ Gulf Coast League team in 1985. “History will be made this September 9th and we would like to express our deepest gratitude to [Pirates manager] Derek Shelton for his initiative and supporting the Clemente Family endeavours. We thank [Pirates owner] Bob Nutting and the Pirates organization for continuing the goodwill of the Clemente name in their community efforts.”
Game worn jerseys from tonight’s game will be made available for purchase at online auction on pirates.auction.mlb.com with all proceeds from those sales going to the Clemente Foundation and Pirates Charities.
“Our staff and players are excited to wear the number 21 with pride as we constantly search for ways to not only honour Roberto’s legacy but to keep his memory alive through our community actions,” Pirates’ owner Bob Nutting said in the official press release.”
The Pirates will be sporting their usual 2020 home white jerseys for the game.
The pride of his native Puerto Rico, Roberto Clemente played eighteen seasons in the big leagues, all of which were with the Pirates, from 1955 through 1972. During that time Clemente was selected to the National League All-Star Team a dozen times, won the NL MVP Award in 1966, accumulated exactly 3000 hits, and was elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum by way of a special election (waiving the customary five-year waiting period) in 1973.