December 31, 1972: This is a very sad day in sports history. Roberto Clemente was one of the best ever to put on a baseball uniform and his life was tragically cut short at the age of 38 on this day 42 years ago.
Clemente spent a lot of time in the offseason doing charity work. After Nicaragua's capital, Managua, was devastated by an earthquake, Clemente set out on a relief mission. The flight Clemente charted crashed shortly after take off near Puerto Rico, killing the Pittsburgh Pirates star and shocking the sports world. His body was never recovered.
During Clemente's Hall of Fame career, the outfielder accomplished incredible feats. His 12 Gold Glove Awards are tied for the most of all time by an outfielder with Willie Mays. He finished his career with exactly 3,000 hits and a career batting average of .317. He was a 15-time All-Star, a two-time World Series champion in 1960 and 1971 (MVP of the 1971 Series), National League MVP in 1966, and a four-time NL batting champion.
One crazy stat you may not know about Clemente is that he is the only player ever to have a walk-off inside-the-park grand slam. This historic feat was accomplished in 1956 in a 9–8 Pittsburgh win against the Chicago Cubs.
Clemente is the greatest Pirates player ever, and his No. 21 is retired by the team, along with a statue in his honor outside of PNC Park in Pittsburgh.
Here's to you, Roberto Clemente: