Pa. House asks MLB to retire Clemente’s No. 21

AP- The
Pennsylvania House of Representatives urged Major League Baseball to retire
Roberto Clemente’s No. 21 in a resolution passed Tuesday.

The
lawmakers are the latest group to contend that Clemente should be honored in
the same way that Jackie Robinson was for breaking Major League Baseball’s
color barrier in 1947.

Robinson’s
No. 42 was retired for all teams on April 15, 1997, the 50th anniversary of his
debut with the Brooklyn Dodgers.

Clemente’s
Hall of Fame career with the Pittsburgh Pirates began in 1955 and ended when he
died in a plane crash on Dec. 31, 1972, while trying to deliver relief supplies
following an earthquake in

Nicaragua.

“Roberto
Clemente was more than a great baseball player,” said state Rep. Angel
Cruz, D-Philadelphia, who sponsored the resolution as part of Hispanic Heritage
Month. “He was a humanitarian who gave so much of himself for those in need.”

The
Pirates retired Clemente’s number in 1973. Major League Baseball has remained
mum on doing the same across the league as an homage to his being the first
Latin American elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame and his humanitarianism.

Jackie
Robinson’s widow, Sharon, and Hall of Fame player Frank Robinson, who is not
related to Jackie, oppose the move. They have argued that Jackie Robinson’s
contribution was unique in the sport, and that a similar honor for Clemente
might diminish baseball’s tribute to Jackie Robinson.

Hispanics
Across America, an advocacy group that wants to see Clemente honored, and
Roberto Clemente Jr. have said such criticism is misguided.

They
acknowledge Clemente did not break down racial or ethnic barriers like
Robinson, but should be honored for his character and because he died trying to
serve others.

Roberto
Clemente was a 12-time All-Star, 12-time Gold Glove winner and four-time
batting champion who had exactly 3,000 hits in 18 seasons. He was 38 when he
died.