Our 3000th profile is up, and the subject is a fitting one: baseball’s Roberto Clemente.
Clemente had exactly 3000 hits in his major league career; the last was a double in his final game on 30 September 1972. That made him one of only 27 players in major league history to collect 3000 hits.
But that’s not really why he’s famous. Clemente was a groundbreaking Puerto Rican player; he broke into the bigs in 1955, just eight years after Jackie Robinson crossed the color barrier, and he became the first Latin player in baseball’s Hall of Fame.
But that’s not really why Clemente is famous, either. He’s still more famous for the way he died: in an airplane crash on New Year’s Eve, 1972, while taking supplies from Puerto Rico to earthquake victims in Managua, Nicaragua. Clemente had organized a series of relief flights himself, a big-hearted gesture that everyone seems to agree was typical of him. The plane, an aging and overloaded DC-7, crashed in the ocean not long after takeoff, and Clemente’s body was never found.
The saddest part of the story is that Clemente boarded the plane only after he discovered that supplies from earlier flights had been hijacked by Nicaraguan dictator Anastasio Somoza. Clemente determined to see the next shipment through himself. (As a eerie aside, Clemente’s son has always said he had a premonition and begged his father not to go.)
But enough sadness. Clemente played his whole career in Pittsburgh, where he was loved for his aggressive style, huge swings at the plate, and his rocket throwing arm. (He won 12 Gold Gloves during his 18-year playing career.) This short video gives a taste of his rambling baserunning style, and shows him making an amazing catch-and-throw from right field to third.
A good man, and a richly suitable 3000th profile. Now the only question is: who will be #4000?