This day in baseball: Pittsburgh’s no. 21

On 6 April 1973, Opening Day at Three Rivers Stadium, the Pittsburgh Pirates posthumously retired Roberto Clemente’s jersey number 21.  Clemente died in a plane crash on 31 December 1972, on his way to Managua, Nicaragua to bring aid and supplies to earthquake survivors.  As the first Latin American to be elected into the Hall of Fame, Clemente was also only the second player in history for which the five-year waiting period had been waived, following Lou Gehrig.

During his career, Clemente won four batting titles and won twelve consecutive Gold Glove awards.  He was a twelve-time All Star and helped the Pirates win two World Series.  On 30 September 1972, Clemente also accumulated his 3,000th hit, becoming the eleventh player in history to do so:


5 Comments on “This day in baseball: Pittsburgh’s no. 21”

  1. hanspostcard says:

    I remember this day very well. A very sad day in Pittsburgh. I always remember the Pirates briefly tried to make catcher Manny Sanguillen a right fielder to replace The Great One. Sangy was close to Roberto and was very emotional that day as I remember. The Sangy in right field experiment didn’t last long.

  2. As a young boy growing up in Erie, just north of Pittsburgh – I remember this day. The news of Roberto’s death was crushing for young Pirates fans. Even dad, a lifelong Yankees fans couldn’t shake this for a while.

  3. […] America, Rickey’s contributions do not stop there.  We can also thank Rickey for drafting Roberto Clemente in the 1950s.  Clemente went on to become Major League Baseball’s first Latino player to win […]


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