First off, let me say that I am one of the biggest Roberto Clemente fans around. I wear his jersey to Yankee and Mets games just to show him the respect he deserves, and suffer through questions and statements like “Are you a Pirates fan?”, “Why are you wearing that jersey the Pirates suck”, “This is Yankee Stadium, wear the right jersey”, and so on and so forth.
I do all that because I feel he is a forgotten legend, and more people need to know about the accomplishments he achieved on and off the field.
Clemente is notable for finishing his career with exactly 3,000 hits, and then having his life cut short in a plane crash where he was headed to deliver relief supplies for earthquake survivors in Nicaragua. He was a hero and a top of the line example of how to be an upstanding and influential citizen.
Now, with that said, there is 0% chance his number should be retired around baseball. Jackie Robinson has his number retired because he changed the foundation of baseball and America by breaking the color-barrier. He did something that literally only one player could do. It was revolutionary and iconic. If you want to retire everybody’s number who was a good guy, you’re gonna have no numbers left.
Adding to that point, every other player gets his number retired nowadays. The Yankees literally have no single digits left and have a slew of other numbers gone too. The Red Sox just retired David Ortiz’s #34 the other day, and there are countless current players that are on their way to similar honors. Pretty soon, teams are going to have to recycle some numbers or starting using triple digits, which is absurdly ugly.
The more numbers you retire, the less special each and every following retirement feels.
My point is this: While Roberto Clemente should be remembered and honored more so than he is, when a jersey number is retired ACROSS THE MLB, this guy should be breaking barriers and ending injustices around the world. That’s why Jackie is the only person to ever have this honor, and in my humble opinion, it should remain this way.