#61 - Roberto Clemente
Roberto Enrique Clemente Walker played 18 seasons for the Pittsburgh Pirates and was posthumously inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1973, becoming the first Latin American and Caribbean player to be enshrined. His untimely death from a plane crach while on a Caribbean charity mission 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. Yes…he was THAT GOOD!
Clemente was an All-Star for twelve seasons, played in fifteen All-Star Games, was the NL Most Valuable Player in 1966, the NL batting leader in 1961, 1964, 1965, and 1967, and a Gold Glove Award winner for twelve consecutive seasons from 1961 through 1972. His batting average was over .300 for thirteen seasons with 3,000 hits over his major league career. He also played in two World Series championships. Clemente is the first Latin American and Caribbean player to help win a World Series as a starter (1960), to receive an NL MVP Award (1966), and to receive a World Series MVP Award (1971).
He 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 while en route to deliver aid to earthquake victims in Nicaragua. He was 38 years old.