Retire 21 Movement Seeks 100K Signatures To Add Clemente To Robinson Plateau
Tuesday, July 11, 2017 at 04:28PM
NYSportsJournalism.com in Jackie Robinson, MLB, MLB, Retire 21, Roberto Clemente, baseball

By Barry Janoff

July 12, 2017: In 1997, Hall of Famer and former Brooklyn Dodgers Jackie Robinson’s No. 42 was retired by MLB across all major league teams, the first pro athlete in any sport to be so honored.

On April 15, 2004, MLB unveiled an annual tradition, "Jackie Robinson Day,” during which every player on every team wears No. 42 in honor of Robinson (who died in 1972) for all games on April 15.

Now, The Roberto Clemente Museum has launched a national grassroots petition campaign to retire Roberto Clemente’s No. 21 across MLB.

The effort, in conjunction with Pittsburgh-based advertising agency MARC USA, is driven not just on his Hall of Fame numbers but, in effect, on a quote made famous by Robinson: "A life is not important except in the impact it has on other lives."

Clemente, who played his entire 18-year MLB career with the Pittsburgh Pirates, died on Dec. 31, 1972, in a plane crash en route to deliver aid to earthquake victims in Nicaragua. He was 38.

According to the Retire 21 campaign, "He worked tirelessly to win recognition for Latin American players and help children through sports programs, received numerous accolades during his baseball career and was the first Latin American player inducted into baseball’s Hall of Fame."

The Retire 21 effort has been seeking national exposure this week during the All-Star Game and surrounding events in Miami with a traveling billboard, signage and volunteers with iPads.

Their goal: Collect 100,000 signatures on a petition, which would then be sent to commissioner Rob Manfred and MLB executives.

The Retire 21 campaign plans to visit various ballparks in July and August.

“We’re inviting active and retired players, the media and everyone who loves baseball to join the campaign, sign the online petition and spread the word through social media and word of mouth,” Tony Nieves, president of MARCA, a Miami-based agency affiliate of MARC USA, said in a statement. “We hope to have at least 100,000 signatures by Roberto’s birthday on Aug. 18.”

People who wish to sign the petition can go to a dedicated Web site and also retweet #Retire21 across social media platforms.

Clemente received posthumously the Congressional Gold Medal and Presidential Citizens Medal in 1973, then the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2003.

Every September, MLB teams celebrate Roberto Clemente Day to honor his life and legacy. This season it is scheduled for Sept. 6.

In 1973, MLB renamed the Commissioner’s Award as the Roberto Clemente Award, presented every year to a player with "outstanding baseball playing skills who is personally involved in community work."

During his 18-year MLB career, all with the Pirates — who retired his No. 21 on April 6, 1973 and have a statue in his honor at PNC Park — Clemente was a 12-time MLB All Star and winner of four Gold Gloves. He batted over .300 for 13 seasons and had 3,000 career hits, 240 home runs and more than 1,300 RBIs.

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