NEW YORK — On Thursday, September 15, 2022, Major League Baseball commemorated Roberto Clemente Day with various tributes, from players donning No. 21 to son Roberto Clemente Jr. and grandson Roberto Clemente III throwing out the ceremonial first pitch at the Pittsburgh Pirates vs. New York Mets game at Citi Field and one commemoration that was subconsciously knitted together.
In Toronto, Tampa Bay Rays manager Kevin Cash penned a nine-player lineup for game No. 142 of the regular season. But without an ounce of notice or intention, he had finalized one of the most historical lineups in baseball history.
For the first time in Major League Baseball history, the lineup consisted of all Latin American-born players. A special day for Latin Americans across the Americas and beyond. A moment so historic, it’s only fitting for it to be witnessed on the day the world recognizes The Great One.
— Tampa Bay Rays (@RaysBaseball) September 15, 2022
🇨🇺 Cuba: Yandy Díaz, Randy Arozarena
🇩🇴 Dominincan Republic: Wander Franco, Manuel Margot, José Siri
🇨🇴 Colombia: Harold Ramírez
🇻🇪 Venzuela: David Peralta, René Pinto
🇲🇽 México: Issac Paredes
The Rays would go on to win their division rival matchup against the Toronto Blue Jays 11-0.
The New York Mets — who have five players from Puerto Rico and one with Puerto Rican roots on their roster — welcomed many past Puerto Rican players and Roberto Clemente Award recipients to help commemorate the special day before their matchup against the only team Clemente played for in his 18 years in baseball, the Pittsburgh Pirates.
It was a special night for one Puerto Rican player, particularly Caguas, Puerto Rico native Francisco Lindor. As the No. 21 was embroidered on his jersey, Lindor was also decked out wearing cleats and used a commemorative glove to pay homage to Clemente. However, the biggest tribute to the Puerto Rican icon came in the bottom of the third inning when the 28-year-old shortstop sent an 85-mph slider from Pirates pitcher JT Brubaker to the right field seats for his 24th home run of the season.
“Special,” Lindor said in a postgame interview with FOX Sports Ken Rosenthal when asked what it meant to hit a home run on a day celebrating Clemente. “It’s a special day for me, for a lot of people in M.L.B., for Puerto Rico, for the Clemente family. Blessed to be here representing him today.”
Lindor is one of 16 Puerto Rican players who opened the 2022 season and remains one of the league’s most celebrated active Puerto Rican players, alongside Minnesota Twins shortstop Carlos Correa, Mets closer Edwin Díaz, Twins closer Jorge López, and many more.
Many former Puerto Rican players who helped pave the way for the next generation of Boricua ballplayers made an appearance at Citi Field to participate in the Roberto Clemente Day festivities. Former Mets and World Baseball Classic participants for team Puerto Rico Carlos Delgado and Carlos Beltrán were both in attendance. They were embraced with a great amount of warmth as they highlighted the importance of Roberto Clemente Day.
Roberto Clemente’s legacy continues to inspire the generations who watched him play and those who were not yet born to witness The Great One grace the diamond. Throughout the years, the life and legacy of Clemente have been handled with deep care and admiration for a man who exemplified selflessness and embodied the true meaning of a kind and charitable spirit.
“Roberto Clemente Day has truly evolved into a day to honor not only Clemente the ballplayer but to celebrate someone who gave back to the community,” said Danny Torres, who is an educator, sports writer, and host of the Talkin’21 podcast, a podcast that is dedicated to the life and legacy of Roberto Clemente that began in September 2020. “His example, 50 years since his untimely passing, is to never forget the importance of philanthropy. That’s the Clemente I’ve embraced my entire life.”
The Talkin’ 21 podcast has invited family members, former teammates and coaches, admirers, and active MLB players to the platform to discuss the life, impact, and legacy of Roberto Clemente.
At the end of the day, Major League Baseball has shown why it is important for us to remember and honor the life that was lived by Clemente. Here I leave you with quotes from The Great One to help remind us why we should strive to live a life that honors him each and every day.
“If you have a chance to accomplish something that will make things better for people coming behind you, and you don’t do that, you are wasting your time on this earth.”
“I am convinced that God wanted me to be a baseball player. I was born to play baseball.”
“When I put on my uniform, I feel I am the proudest man on earth.”
“I want to be remembered as a ballplayer who gave all he had to give.”
A special thank you to Danny Torres (@DannyT21) and Gemini Keez (@GeminiKeez)
You can find the Talkin’ 21 podcast on streaming platforms, including Apple, Spotify, and YouTube.
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