Roberto Clemente: What Would Have Happened 50 Years Later?


robertoclemente.jpgFifty years ago the Pittsburgh Pirates won one of the most sensational World Series in major league baseball history.

Last month in October, some of the living former Pirates teammates from that magical 1960 squad met to live once again the vivid memories of the day that stands above all others in Buccos history.

Yes, better than the world championships of 1971 and 1979, both times against the Baltimore Orioles.

They came together last November 13 for a theater showing in Pittsburgh of a discovered film of NBC’s Game 7 telecast against the New York Yankees. A copy of which no one knew existed.

The film was made at the time for the late Bing Crosby, the famed entertainer who long owned a small share of the Pirates.

The main highlight was once again to enjoy Bill Mazeroski’s historic homer in the ninth inning that gave the underdog Pirates a 10-9 victory over the New York Yankees in Game 7 of the World Series.

A player that probably would have to come to terms with history that evening was Roberto Clemente.

In 1960 the “Cometa de Carolina” from Puerto Rico had a magnificent season hitting .314, fourth in the National League and leading his Pirates with 94 RBI.

Later, in the postseason, he continued his torrid batting, hitting safely in every game of the World Series against the Bronx Bombers, hitting .310 with three RBI.

However, history tells that Clemente after the World Series was infuriated and enraged because he felt snubbed by all the media.

Weeks later he was maddened even more when it was announced that he finished eighth in the National League Most Valuable Player voting.

He really thought he was underappreciated after a season he was a two-time All-Star and one of its main offensive lumbers.

For that Clemente never wore his 1960 championship ring.

In spite of his feeling that he was given a cold shoulder, possibly it gave him, in the long run, the spark to one of the best careers of any player in history and a path to the Hall of Fame.

Clemente, after that 1960 season, began a streak of eight consecutive seasons in which he batted no less than .312.

He won 12 consecutive Gold Gloves, went to nine consecutive Midsummer classics out of his 14 All-Star appearances and won the 1966 National League MVP accolade.

Later in 1971 the Bucs went to the World Series and Clemente hit safely once again in every game. This time he was honored with the World Series MVP trophy.

Clemente was one of the most outspoken players in baseball and first among Latinos in Major League Baseball.

If he would have been alive it would have been very interesting to listen if he would have forgiven what happened back in 1960.

Also, if he would have met new Manager Clint Hurdle, what advice would he have given to him?

What would have been Clemente’s words to the new skipper of a Pirate team that lost 105 games and has averaged 97 losses the last six seasons?

Furthermore, last season the team was next-to-last in the majors in offense and last in pitching ERA and defense fielding percentage.

The Pirates, not since 1992, have finished a season above the .500 mark. Simply, the longest streak of losing seasons in major league history.

By the way, Clemente knows about futility. Before his magnificent 1960 season he played for a Pirate club that had suffered through three straight 100-loss seasons and was the laughingstock of the sport.

What Clemente would have said: Godspeed.

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