15. Support of Retiring Roberto Clemente’s #21 From Major League Baseball

AUGUST 4-8, 2008

15.    Support of Retiring Roberto Clemente’s #21 From Major League Baseball

Whereas: baseball legend and humanitarian Roberto Clemente who was born in Carolina, Puerto Rico on August 18, 1934, played major league baseball for eighteen seasons (1955 – 1972) for the Pittsburgh Pirates, and died December 31, 1972, on an airplane while carrying supplies destined for earthquake victims in Nicaragua, and

Whereas: elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame, only the second player for whom the mandatory five (5) year waiting period was waived – Lou Gehrig was the other, collected 3000 hits, won four batting titles – leading the National League batting average, had a lifetime batting average of .317, voted “National League Most Valuable Player” in 1966, was the “Most Valuable Player” in the 1971 World Series, hit safely – at least one hit – in all 14 World Series games in which he played (1960 & 1971), and

Whereas: playing in the Mid-west steel town of Pittsburgh in the 1950’s and 1960’s, he faced and overcame the double minority status of race and language, during spring training refused to accept the indignity of “Jim Crow” segregation in the American South, and would not accept food from “White Only” restaurants, had a passion for young fans, and was a superstar athlete who always gave back to the community in which he played, and

Whereas: following the 1971 World Series, in which he was named “Most Valuable Player”, he insisted upon speaking first in his native language (Spanish) on national television an act which infused a sense of dignity and self-esteem for Hispanics throughout the Western Hemisphere, even those who knew little or nothing of the game of baseball, was the undisputed leader on the field of the 1971 World Champion Pittsburgh Pirates, a diverse international collection of gifted and talented athletes, and

Whereas: Roberto Clemente disregarding his own safety, flew in the rear of a cargo plane to bring vital supplies to earthquake victims because his physical presence would ensure that the supplies would reach those in need, this act of sacrifice was not a staged photo-op or a public relations stunt arranged for the cameras, but an outpouring of compassion and humanitarian concern, his act was an act of genuine heroism, not “check-book”
compassion, which we can admire, respect and emulate, Roberto Clemente’s humanitarian concern stretched beyond the island of Puerto Rico and his legacy can be embraced around the World, and

Whereas: Roberto Clemente’s life and death were heroic in his concern for others, courage in the face of danger, and the nobility and pride which he exuded – America is in need of such heroes, for every Latino player whether superstar or minor league hopeful stands on the shoulders of Roberto Clemente and owes to him a debt which can never be repaid, for after thirty-five (35) years after his death, those who never saw him play, or have little knowledge of baseball, revere his memory, and honor his humanitarian ideals, finding the name of Roberto Clemente at baseball fields and athletic complexes, but schools, libraries, parks, and highways bear his name in the United States and internationally, as a fitting memorial to a great athlete and an even greater human being, and

Whereas: Robert Clemente’s life, death, and legacy, represent and symbolize the many contributions made by Puerto Ricans to the history of the United States, this native of Carolina, Puerto Rico, has left a legacy that transcends the Hispanic community, and

Whereas: only one number, #42, the number worn by Brooklyn Dodger great Jackie Robinson, has been retired by Major League Baseball, and if Roberto Clemente’s number is retired, it will not diminish the greatness of Jackie Robinson, but will only highlight the legacy of two extraordinary human beings, for when future generations enter a major league stadium and ask, “What does that number 21 on the outfield wall mean?”, the heroism of Roberto Clemente and his memory will come alive again in the retelling, for Roberto Clemente is not a “hero” because he can hit, catch, and throw a baseball with great skill, but because of a life of service to others and a life lost in an attempt to help others, hence,
Therefore be it resolved: that the National Labor Council for Latin American Advancement at its’ 2008 national convention in Orlando, Florida, wholeheartedly promote support for the retirement of Roberto Clemente’s #21 from Major League Baseball, with all its members and affiliates, inclusive of the AFL-CIO and the Change to Win Federations urging its affiliates as well as contacting the respective congressional representatives in both the House of Representatives and the Senate to get on board in signing on in support of the national campaign for the retirement of Roberto Clemente’s #21 from Major League Baseball.

Respectfully submitted by: 

New York City LCLAA Chapter
Albany/Capital District Chapter
Westchester County LCLAA Chapter