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Superstar Roberto Clemente Superstar Roberto Clemente

Right-fielder - Right-handed; Pittsburgh Pirates 1955-1972

Baseball Historian

Marvelous right-fielder, Roberto Clemente with his play the best I can play' attitude helped lead his Pirate teammates in their pennant battles all through the 1960's. Roberto Clemente with a style of play rarely seen in modern major league competition, came to a Pirates team in 1955 that had three straight 100 loss seasons.

Roberto Clemente was not an immediate superstar but his rifle arm and brilliant fielding brought him rave reviews from the beginning. He would eventually go on to win a record 12 Gold Gloves and set a major league record by leading the league in assists five times.

Starting in 1960, he began a streak of eight consecutive years of batting over .310. He also played in his first All-Star game, he appeared in a total of 14. He led the Pittsburgh Pirates to the World Series in 1960 and hit safety in all seven games as the Pirates beat the Yankees to become World Champs. Clemente hit .351 in 1961 to capture his' first of four NL batting titles.

For the rest of the decade, Roberto Clemente was consistently brilliant in right-field, often making spectacular catches and nailing opposing teams' base-runners with his deadly arm. He played caroms off walls flawlessly and made the basket catches on routine fly balls. Standing deep in the batters' box, proud Clemente seemed to dare the pitcher to throw the ball. He would pounce on inside pitches, or wait on outside pitches and drive the ball to right field.

Clemente played with a back injury and arm injury suffered during the late 1950's. He also had an attack of malaria in 1965 but still managed to play over 140 games for eight straight seasons, 1960-67. In 1966, Roberto Clemente won the NL Most Valuable Player Award by hitting 29 home runs along with 119 RBI's; and in 1967 he hit .357, his' highest average ever.

Roberto Clemente captured the hearts of baseball fans throughout the country in the 1971 World Series vs. the Baltimore Orioles. He played like a man possessed, making seemingly impossible catches, spun around and fired rapid strikes to every base. For the series, Clemente batted .414, hit two long homers, one in Game 7 and was voted the series MVP. On September 30, 1972, Roberto Clemente lined a double off the wall in Three Rivers Stadium for his 3,000 career hit. His season ending batting average was .312, the 13th year of batting over .300.

On New Years' Eve of 1972, Clemente was on a DC-7 airplane with relief supplies for earthquake victims in Nicaragua. Shortly after takeoff, the plane crashed into the ocean off the coast of Puerto Rico. There were no survivors. Roberto Clemente was voted into the Hall of Fame in 1973. The five year waiting period was waved. Roberto Clement ranks as one of the best players of all-time. A true superstar as a player and as a human being. Clemente finished his career with a .317 lifetime batting average, hit 240 homers, with 1305 RBI's.

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