Fans tuning into Major League Baseball games today will notice that all players are wearing the number 21 as a black and gold patch on their jerseys.
It’s all in celebration of the 20th annual Roberto Clemente Day, a day to honour a truly great human being both on and off the ballfield.
Not only will all players be wearing the 21 patch, but all players who were previous winners of the Roberto Clemente Award and those who were nominated for the award in 2021 will be given the option to change their jersey number to 21 for the game, similar to how players wear 42 on Jackie Robinson Day.
The Pittsburgh Pirates, the team Clemente spent his entire Major League career playing for, will have all of their players, coaches, and managers wearing number 21, a special “21” stencil will also be painted in right field at PNC Park for their game today.
The statement from Major League Baseball:
“On Roberto Clemente Day, the Pittsburgh Pirates, the Club for which Roberto played his entire Hall of Fame career, will once again have all players, managers and coaches wear Roberto’s “21” on their uniforms. Additionally, for the first time ever, all Roberto Clemente Award nominees and previous Award recipients will have the option to wear “21” on their uniforms, joining players from Puerto Rico and others who wore the number during the 2020 commemoration of Roberto Clemente Day. All players and on-field personnel will wear a “21” patch on their uniform sleeves, with Roberto Clemente Award nominees having language noting their recognition on their patches. Throughout the league, the Roberto Clemente Day logo will appear on base jewels and official dugout lineup cards, and a special tribute video will be played in ballparks.”
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.
Clemente’s son Luis came the closest to achieving this, playing seven games for the Pirates’ Gulf Coast League team in 1985.
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.
The 30 players (one per team) who are eligible to wear the number 21 today due to being nominated for the 2021 Roberto Clemente Award are listed below. As mentioned, players who previously won the award are also eligible to switch their number today. The Roberto Clemente Award is the annual recognition of a Major League player who best represents the game of baseball through extraordinary character, community involvement, philanthropy and positive contributions, both on and off the field.
Arizona Diamondbacks – David Peralta*
Atlanta Braves – Will Smith*
Baltimore Orioles – Trey Mancini*
Boston Red Sox – Nathan Eovaldi*
Chicago Cubs – Jason Heyward
Chicago White Sox – Liam Hendriks
Cincinnati Reds – Joey Votto*
Cleveland Indians – Aaron Civale*
Colorado Rockies – Ian Desmond
Detroit Tigers – Miguel Cabrera
Houston Astros – Alex Bregman
Kansas City Royals – Salvador Perez*
Los Angeles Angels – Mike Trout
Los Angeles Dodgers – Justin Turner
Miami Marlins – Miguel Rojas
Milwaukee Brewers – Brent Suter
Minnesota Twins – Nelson Cruz
New York Mets – Pete Alonso*
New York Yankees – Kyle Higashioka*
Oakland Athletics – Tony Kemp
Philadelphia Phillies – Alec Bohm*
Pittsburgh Pirates – Jacob Stallings*
San Diego Padres – Joe Musgrove*
San Francisco Giants – Brandon Crawford*
Seattle Mariners – Kyle Seager*
St. Louis Cardinals – Paul Goldschmidt
Tampa Bay Rays – Ryan Yarbrough*
Texas Rangers – Jose Trevino*
Toronto Blue Jays – Bo Bichette*
Washington Nationals – Max Scherzer*
(* – first time this player has been nominated for the Roberto Clemente Award)
Now that some of today’s games have gotten underway, a look at the patch in action as well as the #21 being worn by nominees: