TRENTON – The General Assembly Thursday approved a resolution sponsored by Assembly Democrats Angel Fuentes and Annette Quijano calling on Major League Baseball to retire the number 21 in honor of the life and career of legendary baseball player Roberto Clemente.
“The legacy of Roberto Clemente extends beyond his baseball feats. He was on that relief flight to ensure the aid made it to the survivors of the earthquake. He was a gentleman on and off the field and a source of pride not just for Latinos, but everyone,” said Fuentes (D-Camden/Gloucester). “I sincerely hope the MLB agrees with us and bestows this baseball great with this well-deserved honor.”
“With so many cheating and doping scandals in professional sports, Roberto Clemente is a welcomed reminder of what it means to be a true athlete,” said Quijano ((D-Union). “Clemente was not only a gifted baseball player, but an outstanding human being. He has earned and deserves the honor of having his number retired and his contributions to the sport forever memorialized.”
Roberto Clemente-Walker was a Major League Baseball (MLB) right fielder who played 18 seasons for the Pittsburgh Pirates from 1955 through 1972. Born in Carolina, Puerto Rico, Clemente confronted and overcame the dual obstacles of racism and language to become the first dark-skinned Latino to achieve unquestioned superstar status as a professional baseball player. His accomplishments include: collecting 3,000 hits, winning four National League batting titles, a .317 lifetime batting average, and 12 Gold Glove awards, making him arguably the best defensive right fielder of all time.
Clemente’s athletic prowess was only matched by his compassion. In 1972, Clemente was killed when a plane on a relief mission he organized to provide emergency assistance to the victims of a Nicaraguan earthquake crashed. He was posthumously inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1973, becoming only the second player for whom the five year mandatory waiting period was waived.
The resolution (ACR-151) respectfully requests that Major League Baseball retire Clemente’s number as both a fitting tribute to a remarkable athlete and human being and as a testament of the best that America’s “National Pastime” has to offer.
The resolution was approved 74-0 by the Assembly.
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