ST. LOUIS – Major League Baseball remembers right fielder Roberto Clemente, who lost his life in a plane crash while delivering earthquake relief supplies.
Angel Recci is a past president of the Puerto Rican Society of St. Louis. He is also a baseball fan. He said his inspiration was the life of Roberto Clemente. The baseball great was born into poverty in Puerto Rico and went on to become one of the greatest baseball players of his generation.
“That (uniform) number 21 means so much to so many people,” Recci said.
Clemente was killed in a plane crash while attempting to deliver earthquake relief supplies to Nicaragua. He was 38 years old. Tributes to Clemente took place at Major League Baseball ballparks Thursday, including Busch Stadium in St. Louis, where the Cardinals hosted the Cincinnati Reds.
St. Louis Cardinals players Albert Pujols, Yadier Molina and Adam Wainwright, past recipients of the Roberto Clemente Award, wore number 21 to honor Clemente. Paul Goldschmidt, a current nominee for the award also wore number 21.
Recci said Clemente was all about creating opportunities for the Latino community and beyond. He recalls stories about Clemente telling others they were wasting their time if they did not use their life as an opportunity to help others.
“That tells you so much about his character,” Recci said.
Kelly Boschert was grilling up hot dogs and bratwursts for a hot dog stand near the stadium’s parking garages west of the stadium. He was happy to hear teams were remembering Clemente.
“If anybody deserved it, he did,” Boschert said. “I’m glad Major League Baseball recognizes that and continues to do so.
David Westberg attended Thursday’s game and shared his thoughts about Clemente.
“I recall his philanthropy, his kindness and what a great arm he had throwing from right field,” he said.
“He was just such a good role model,” said St. Louis Cardinals fan Sandra Welch.
Recci said he has been in contact with a member of the Clemente family, who plans on being in St. Louis for another tribute at the end of September.