Updated 08:45 AM EST, Sun, Dec 04, 2016
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MLB to Officially Retires Roberto Clemente Number?

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Sosa walks by tribute to Clemente, Cepeda and Gomez
SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICO - SEPTEMBER 9: ***PUERTO RICO OUT***INTERNET OUT** Sammy Sosa #21 of the Chicago Cubs walks past signs which pay tribute to Roberto Clemente #21, Orlando Cepeda #30 and Ruben Gomez #22 prior to the Cubs game against the Montreal Expos September 9, 2003 at Hiram Bithorn Stadium in San Juan, Puerto Rico. This is Sosa's first appearance on the island as a member of the Chicago Cubs. (Photo : (Jose Jimenez/Primera Hora/Getty Images))

 

The collective eyes and ears of the baseball community are now on MLB commissioner Rob Manfred. Fans await what the league's decision will be in response to the growing calls to retire Roberto Clemente's jersey number.

"Retire 21" movement leader Julio Pabón shared to Remezcla that the league should strongly consider retiring the Puerto Rican legend's number as no other MLB player has advocated for the rights of Latinos and African-Americans quite like Roberto Clemente did.

Clemente was a member of the Pittsburgh Pirates from 1955 to 1972, the year he passed away. The then 38-year old right fielder was a victim of a tragic plane crash off the coast of Nicaragua. He traveled to the Central American country to offer relief goods to earthquake-stricken victims.

His sudden death left such a profound impact on the MLB that the league decided to exempt Clemente from its five-years-after-retirement rule. The Puerto Rican was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1973. His number was then retired by the Pittsburgh Pirates later that year.

Now, the "Retire 21" movement wants Clemente's number to be retired by all MLB teams, similar to what the league did two decades ago to Jackie Robinson's number 42.

Buster Olney of ESPN said Bud Selig's ruling to retire Robinson's jersey number for all teams might just be the greatest achievement of his long tenure as MLB commissioner. Rob Manfed, on the other hand, can choose to leave a legacy like his predecessor by doing to Clemente what Selig did for Robinson.

The journalist speculated that the best time for the league to grant Clemente with the utmost retirement honor is in 2017 so that the ceremony will fall on the 20th anniversary of Jackie Robinson's league-wide number retirement.

"For me, what he did off the field represents more than his accomplishments on the field," said former MLB infielder turned baseball analyst Alex Cora. "The word that comes to mind when I hear his name is courageous."

Apart from his off-the-field legacy, what people might not know about Clemente was that he tallied exactly 3,000 hits before he died, per The New York Times. He also helped the Pirates snatch two World Series titles during his stint with the team.

David Maraniss revealed in his book "Clemente: The Passion and Grace of Baseball's Last Hero" that the Puerto Rican, as well as the Pittsburgh Pirates for that matter, weren't particularly liked by their home crowd before Clemente's death.

"After Clemente died, he was martyred in Pittsburgh and everyone said they loved him, but that was not the case when he was alive," explained Maraniss. "He had to overcome a lot in terms of race and language in Pittsburgh, and did not really win the city over completely until he died."

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