Oct 1, 2012, 8:23 AM EDT
Roberto Clemente’s widow Vera Clemente and his sons Luis and Roberto Jr. were in Pittsburgh yesterday for a ceremony commemorating Clemente’s 3000th and final hit. Dejan Kovacevic spoke with the Clementes regarding a movement they’ve been trying to get rolling over the past several years: having Roberto Clemente’s number 21 retired throughout all of baseball.
Major League Baseball hasn’t been all too receptive, however, so the Clementes are gonna wait Bud out. Here’s Roberto Clemente, Jr.:
“It’s become pretty clear to us this commissioner doesn’t want anything to do with it, to be perfectly honest. That just means we’re going to have to wait until there’s a new commissioner. And we will.”
I dunno. Roberto Clemente Jr. is 47 years old. I figure Bud has another 50-60 years in him, so it may be the next generation’s fight.
Seriously, though, I’ve never been a fan of retiring Clemente’s number across baseball. He was a fantastic player and he died under heroic circumstances, but he was not a pioneer in the way Jackie Robinson was. Hiram Bithorn was the first major leaguer from Puerto Rico, and there were Latin American players from other countries before him as well. In light of that, to give him the same honor Robinson received seems inappropriate.
Moreover, for reasons I’ve explained previously, I’m also not a fan of the alternative suggestion Vera Clemente has made in the past: giving each year’s Clemente Award winner the number 21 to wear throughout the year following him winning the award. It’s just too complicated, still necessitates retiring 21 — otherwise how does the honoree stand out? — and could lead to awkwardness if a player doesn’t want to change his number but feels obligated to do so lest he be seen as offending the memory of Roberto Clemente.
I get wanting to do something for a special person’s memory, but I don’t think baseball is in danger of either forgetting or dishonoring Roberto Clemente. Bud is right to let this one lie.
- Felix Hernandez pounded as Mariners lose fourth straight 6
- Blue Jays manager John Gibbons will return in 2015 4
- HBT Daily: Why did Frank Wren get the axe? 2
- John Schuerholz defines “The Braves Way.” And it’s a pretty big pile of crap. 57
- And That Happened: Monday’s scores and highlights 26
- Frank Wren fired as Braves GM, John Hart to take over on an interim basis 42
- AND DOWN THE STRETCH THEY COME! Sizing up the final week of the regular season 36
- Must-Click Link: Derek Jeter opens up. Seriously, he really does. 46
- Geddy Lee’s baseball obsession makes it really hard for me to hate Rush (124)
- It certainly looks like Barry Bonds’ criminal conviction is going to be overturned (111)
- Ron Washington claims he resigned because he cheated on his wife (103)
- Giants CEO Larry Baer thinks advertisements on uniforms are coming soon (89)
- Umpire ejects jackwagon fan heckling Bryce Harper in Atlanta last night (87)