It wasn't just the man's incredible talents on the baseball field:
Roberto Clemente Walker (August 18, 1934 – December 31, 1972) was a Puerto Rican baseball right fielder who played 18 seasons in Major League Baseball (MLB) for the Pittsburgh Pirates from 1955 through 1972. Clemente was awarded the National League (NL) Most Valuable Player (MVP) Award in 1966. He was a National League All-Star for twelve seasons (15 games), received 12 Gold Glove Awards, and led the National League in batting average four times. In 1972, Clemente got his 3,000th major league hit.
“My husband was a very religious man,” his wife Vera told the Pittsburgh Catholic. “His faith guided
him to help others.” Father Alvin Gutierrez, who knew the Clementes well, and concelebrated a memorial Mass several days after Clemente’s sudden passing, underscored that, and stressed the importance of Roberto’s “Catholic ethos” to me.
Nowhere was that more apparent than in the jubilant locker room after the 1971 World Series. When he was awarded the Series MVP, he thanked the presenter in English, then immediately spoke in Spanish, blessing his family, thanking his parents, and asking for their blessing as well on “the most important day of my life.” It was a moment all Latinos who saw remember with pride and emotion—and still moves anyone who watches it today. “With Roberto it was always faith and family first, everything else second,” said Father Gutierrez. Just like his parents had taught him, back in Puerto Rico.
In fact, it was the Hall of Famer’s faith that led to him to offer his life for the sake of others. After an earthquake struck Nicaragua and caused mass suffering, Roberto was determined to rush relief supplies to the country, and he wanted to take them in person, to make sure they got to the victims. But his plane crashed shortly after takeoff, and he died at sea, on his humanitarian mission.
Good stuff (and the whole thing should be read).
Hard to believe it's been 40 years since his death. May that anniversary but more importantly and relevantly, his life, inspire us all to be who God desires us to be.