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Jose Tabata wants to honor Roberto Clemente by wearing his retired number for one game

Aug 18, 2011, 1:28 PM EDT

clemente retired number

Now that he’s back from a two-month stint on the disabled list Jose Tabata told Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune Review that his “dream” is to play right field at PNC Park while wearing Roberto Clemente’s retired No. 21 for one game.

No player has worn that number for the Pirates since the Hall of Famer’s death in 1973, but Tabata idolized Clemente as a kid and the right field wall at PNC Park is 21 feet high and called “Clemente Wall.”

Tabata has been the Pirates’ everyday left fielder since being called up last season, but made his first career start in right field yesterday and indicated that he hopes to ask the Clemente family for permission to wear No. 21 at some point.

  1. thefalcon123 - Aug 18, 2011 at 1:32 PM

    I get it. Clemente is not truly honored until Jose f**king Tabata where’s his number to what…remind Pirates fans who Clemente is?!?

    • Chris Fiorentino - Aug 18, 2011 at 1:42 PM

      Agreed. It’s retired for a reason…so nobody wears it again for the Pirates. This means YOU too Jose.

      • bigleagues - Aug 18, 2011 at 2:33 PM

        Here is the perfect scenario for an exception to be granted for Tabata to wear #21 in honor of Clemente . . .

        1) Tabata spends his entire career in Pittsburgh.

        2) During the 2030 season, Tabata is sitting on 3,000 Hits and about to pass Clemente on the Pirates all-time Hits list.

        3) Tabata gets hit # 3,001. The Manager pinch runs for Tabata. After the game Tabata announces he is donating his entire 2030 salary to the Clemente Foundation, and then announces his retirement.

  2. stoutfiles - Aug 18, 2011 at 1:43 PM

    Honor? More like disgrace him. There is no player in baseball worthy enough to wear his number, especially some no name like Jose Tabata.

    • mianfr - Aug 18, 2011 at 2:03 PM

      What about that guy who saved that school bus full of orphans that drove off a bridge into the nearly frozen river below when the driver had a heart attack while they were on their way to church, HUH?

  3. dailyrev - Aug 18, 2011 at 1:54 PM

    Look at the bright side of it: this is an ideal Hurdle teaching moment, as if designed for this mgr. on this team. This is the sort of thing they hired this guy for. Big Clint can evoke his namesake’s famous warning: take the kid aside and remind him that real man knows his limitations better than his abilities.

    Because if this is allowed, what’s next — Cedeno gets to wear Honus’s uni?

  4. paperlions - Aug 18, 2011 at 2:02 PM

    Man, you guys are bunch of crotchety old f*cks.

    • Chris Fiorentino - Aug 18, 2011 at 2:17 PM

      GET OFF MY LAWN!!!!!

      • paperlions - Aug 18, 2011 at 2:52 PM

        Yes, sir. Sorry, sir. Won’t happen again, sir.

    • The Rabbit - Aug 18, 2011 at 2:57 PM

      @paperlions
      No sh*t. You are talking about a kid who apparently idolizes Clemente, the man and the legend.
      His comment is no different than any fan who wishes (“dreams”?) for the opportunity to play a game for his favorite team and wear the jersey of his favorite player.
      It’s actually kind of nice that there is a young player that recognizes that there is a history to the game and appreciates a player who he couldn’t have seen play.

  5. bigleagues - Aug 18, 2011 at 2:06 PM

    First of all, I realize the player’s intention is somewhat noble – but I do think it’s subconsciously selfish when one player suddenly declares himself the one to wear a HOF’ers retired number in honor.

    Also, when are we gonna start calling shenanigans on contemporary players who claim to idolize a player they could never have seen play. I was 17 when Tabata was born and I didn’t see Clemente play because he died in 1973, when I was 2.

    That said . . . now wearing my Marketing and Promotions cap for a second, I love the idea . . . BUT, I would be leery of working on a promotion in which Tabata or any one player was allowed to wear the retired number of a such a legendary figure.

    Instead I would push for a “Roberto Clemente Day” where all players wore #21 for one game.

    – Issue commemorative T’s, caps, baseball’s (etc . . .) and a memorabilia auction (including the game worn jersey’s from that day’s game) with proceeds going to the Roberto Clemente Foundation.
    – Have charities that have benefited from the Foundation on the concourse.
    – Have Vera Clemente and Roberto’s kids out at the mound before the game for a presentation and 1st pitch. As well as having past Clemente award recipients on hand.

    • Chris Fiorentino - Aug 18, 2011 at 2:17 PM

      Don’t they do something similar for Jackie Robinson around the league every year?

      • bigleagues - Aug 18, 2011 at 2:36 PM

        Indeed. But it goes much farther for Robinson. His number is retired by all MLB teams and they have Jackie Robinson day every year now along with the Civil Rights game.

  6. dailyrev - Aug 18, 2011 at 2:06 PM

    I’m imagining a Yankee game: Martin has no. 8 on; Granderson sports no. 5; Swisher is 3; Texeira get to wear 4; Gardner has a 7 on his back…

    • mianfr - Aug 18, 2011 at 2:30 PM

      Actually, on a one game basis, that sounds somewhat awesome.

  7. The Baseball Idiot - Aug 18, 2011 at 3:06 PM

    He should actually ask the Pirates first, since they are the ones who retired the number, and not the
    Clementine family.

    • mianfr - Aug 18, 2011 at 3:30 PM

      Sometimes it’s best to just deal with citrus directly.

      • spindervish - Aug 18, 2011 at 3:54 PM

        This is one of the best lines I’ve ever seen anywhere.

    • jimbo1949 - Aug 18, 2011 at 3:30 PM

      There’s no “in” in Clemente :-)

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