The Great One

It was 48 years ago today we lost the great Roberto Clemente. He died in a plane crash off the coast of Isla Verde, Puerto Rico immediately after takeoff on December 31, 1972, due to engine failure.

After a massive earthquake in Nicaragua on December 23rd, Clemente arranged for emergency aid flights to the victims. He learned the aid packages on the first three flights had been diverted by corrupt officials of the Somoza government, never reaching victims of the quake. He decided to accompany the fourth relief flight, hoping that his presence would ensure that the aid would be delivered to the survivors.

Clemente’s teammate and close friend Manny Sanguillén was the only member of the Pirates not to attend Roberto’s memorial service. The Pirates catcher chose instead to dive into the waters where Clemente’s plane had crashed in an effort to find his teammate. The bodies of Clemente and three others who were also on the four-engine plane were never recovered.

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