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51 years ago Clemente’s life ended on that plane crash – Who were the others on that plane?

Pittsburgh Pirates fans look at the engravings at the Roberto Clemente statue next to the center field gate at PNC Park in Pittsburgh on October 1, 2013. On December 31, 1973, Pittsburgh Pirates great Roberto Clemente and died in a plane crash en route to deliver supplies to earthquake-stricken Nicaragua - Image Credit: Pat Benic/UPI

SOUTH BRONX, NY – Today as we end the “21 Days of Clemente” we want to repost a piece written by our friend and contributor, Aristotle “Mugsy” Sakellaridis  – 51 Years Ago: The “Four Other Passengers” on that Clemente Plane Crash

We decided to publish this piece as a fitting way to end the 21 days of Clemente by also honoring and recognizing the other passengers that also died on that fatal airplane crash. It is only fitting that we do so as those “other passengers” also sacrificed their time leaving their families on a festive New Year’s night to help Clemente deliver those supplies to Nicaragua. Unfortunately, Clemente and “those other passengers” never made it to Nicaragua and all, but one is still lying in the deep Atlantic Ocean floor where the plane rest with Clemente.

Happy New Year to you and yours.

Fifty one years ago on New Years Eve, a DC-7 cargo plane crashed shortly after its 9:20 pm takeoff. Perishing was pilot Jerry Hill, co-pilot Arthur Rivera, engineer Francisco Matias, and Rafael Lozano, who was an associate to the other passenger aboard that flight.

Most of these names are unknown to society, except for the fifth passenger, Roberto Walker Clemente. The legendary Pittsburgh Pirates player and Pride of Puerto Rico was on a mission to Nicaragua. The tragedy has been well documented over the years, but the names of the other occupants has been hardly mentioned. They were simply identified as “four other passengers.”

Major Jerry Carroll Hill was 47 years old and the father of six children. His was the only body found, still strapped into the seat. Arthur Rivera, was president of Interstate Air Service Corp., which owned the plane. Not much else is known on the others, and that’s a damn shame. It makes you wonder, would even one Major League At Bat have given these “four other passengers” a profile?

Roberto Clemente
 reached 3000 hits. That 3000th, was also his last.

Major League Baseball has once again dropped the ball. It would have been appropriate to finally retire Clemente’s number 21, as they did with Jackie’s 42. But for the mere fact that a patch on every player’s sleeve, to be worn during the entire season, wasn’t even thought about to honor Clemente’s death, shows how clueless MLB has become. That’s what happens when you flood the game with non-baseball personnel.

Another error goes to the media from back in the day, for not making more of the “Four other passengers.”

Clemente’s life has been well-documented. His heroics on and off the field are well known. On this New Years Eve, my mind is on the great Pirates player and those so called “four other passengers.”

We invite any of our readers to feel free to comment or contribute anything on Roberto Clemente that you would like to share.

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