On Dec. 31, 1972, Roberto Clemente died in a plane crash as he was traveling to Nicaragua. The 38 year old baseball giant was delivering aid to earthquake victims. At the time, he lived near Piñones in Loíza, Puerto Rico.
Jose Serrano (D-NY), Nydia Velázquez (D-NY), Luis Gutiérrez (D-IL), and Darren Soto (D-FL) have introduced a bill in Congress to add Clemente’s crash site, also in Loíza, to the National Register of Historic Places. The Members of Congress, all of whom are of Puerto Rican heritage, listed Clemente’s accomplishments as a baseball player as well as his humanitarian actions as reasons for this request.
Clemente was the first person from Puerto Rico to be inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame. He was also a member of the Marine Corps Sports Hall of Fame, having served as a Reservist for the Marines. As a Major League ballplayer, Clemente helped the Pittsburgh Pirates to win two Major League Baseball World Series Championships and was named World Series Most Valuable Player. He won four National League batting titles and was a Gold Glove award winner for 12 straight years.
Clemente was born in Carolina, Puerto Rico, and played for the Santurce Crabbers in the Puerto Rican Baseball League before being signed for the Major League. Throughout his life, he supported others with charitable work. He was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the Presidential Citizens Medal, and the Congressional Gold Medal posthumously. Major League Baseball presents an annual award in his name to players who demonstrate philanthropy and service.
The bill explains that “Roberto Clemente’s passion and advocacy demonstrated the positive influence that professional athletes could have in improving the lives of others… Roberto Clemente challenged the stereotypes that had marginalized native Spanish speakers in this Nation and remains an icon to many Puerto Ricans and Latinos in the United States and Latin America.”
The proposal has been referred to the Subcommittee on Federal Lands of the House Committee on Natural Resources.