Died when: 38 years 135 days
Star Sign: Leo
Roberto Enrique Clemente Walker (Spanish pronunciation: [roˈβeɾto enˈrike kleˈmente (g)walˈkeɾ]; August 18, 1934 – December 31, 1972) was a Puerto Rican professional baseball right fielder who played 18 seasons in Major League Baseball (MLB) for the Pittsburgh Pirates. He was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1973, becoming both the first Latin American and Caribbean player to be enshrined. His untimely death established the precedent that, as an alternative to the five-year retirement period, a player who has been deceased for at least six months is eligible for entry into the Hall of Fame. Instead of playing winter ball in Puerto Rico during the 1958-59 offseason, Roberto Clemente served in the United States Marine Corps Reserves. He spent six months of his military commitment at Parris Island, South Carolina, and Camp Lejeune in North Carolina. While at Parris Island, Clemente received his basic training with Platoon 346 of the 3rd Recruit Battalion. At Camp Lejeune, he was an infantryman. The rigorous training he received helped Clemente physically by gaining ten pounds of muscle and ridding him of long-time back pain. Having served until 1964, Roberto was inducted into the Marine Corps Sports Hall of Fame in 2003. Clemente was an All-Star for 13 seasons, playing in 15 All-Star Games. He was the National League (NL) Most Valuable Player (MVP) in 1966, the NL batting leader in 1961, 1964, 1965, and 1967, and a Gold Glove Award winner for 12 consecutive seasons from 1961 through 1972. His batting average was over .300 for 13 seasons and he had 3,000 hits during his major league career. He also was a two-time World Series champion. Clemente is the first Latin American and Caribbean player to win a World Series as a starting position player (1960), to receive an NL MVP Award (1966), and to receive a World Series MVP Award (1971). Clemente was involved in charity work in Latin American and Caribbean countries during the off-seasons, often delivering baseball equipment and food to those in need. On December 31, 1972, he died in a plane crash at the age of 38 while en route to deliver aid to earthquake victims in Nicaragua. The following season, the Pirates retired his uniform number 21, and MLB renamed its annual Commissioner's Award in his honor; now known as the Roberto Clemente Award, it is given to the player who "best exemplifies the game of baseball, sportsmanship, community involvement and the individual's contribution to his team".