Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Pennsylvania Apparently Has Solved All Of Its Problems

How else to explain the legislature's resolution asking MLB to retire Roberto Clemente's number?

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."

Major League Baseball has remained mum on the subject of retiring Clemente's number as an homage to his being the first Latin American elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame and his humanitarianism.

I would hope that they remain mum much longer. The retiring of Jackie Robinson's number should stand as a unique honor for a unique contribution to the game. Clemente was an amazing player. He was obviously a selfless and committed humanitarian. It doesn't belittle his accomplishments, however, to acknowledge that many other players in baseball history have matched that description as well, even if they didn't die immediately after achieving a milestone of baseball greatness and while serving humanity.

Honor him. Celebrate him. Name as many things as you possibly can after him. But don't retire his number. To do so would both devalue the honor bestowed on Jackie Robinson and, because of its derivative nature, would belittle Clemente's accomplishments as well.

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