Major League Baseball is celebrating Roberto Clemente Day on Wednesday. That means, among other things, that MLB's Puerto Rican players have the opportunity to honor Clemente (and his legacy) by donning his No. 21 jersey, a chance that was initially presented to them in a letter signed by Clemente's children, as first reported by ESPN.com.
A number of the game's biggest names are taking MLB and the Clementes up on their offer, and are doing one better by using their platforms to call for Clemente's number to be retired league-wide, just as Jackie Robinson's No. 42 is.
We figured we would highlight a few of the more notable comments and gestures concerning Clemente, beginning with Chicago Cubs shortstop Javier Baez, who called the opportunity to wear No. 21 "an honor" and said he would make a special place in his home for the jersey:
Javy Baez, who supports retiring Roberto Clemente's No. 21 across baseball, on having "honor" to wear No. 21 on his jersey tonight:— Gordon Wittenmyer (@GDubCub) September 9, 2020
"Obviously this jersey is going to be in a special place in my house."
San Diego Padres shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr., meanwhile, opted to honor Clemente with his cleats. His footwear on Wednesday features Clemente sliding, a number of his career statistics, and the Puerto Rican flag:
New York Mets reliever Edwin Diaz called for the league to retire the No. 21 jersey, while a number of individuals from the Cleveland clubhouse -- including shortstop Francisco Lindor -- spoke about what Clemente meant to them and their country.
It's worth noting that it isn't just Puerto Rican players who are paying homage to Clemente on Wednesday. Milwaukee Brewers left-hander Brent Suter asked for and received permission to wear No. 21 as well. "Looking forward to the day when we all wear this number and it is retired league-wide," he tweeted on Wednesday morning. "Special thanks to the Clemente family for giving me their blessing to wear #21 today. Happy Roberto Clemente Day!"
The Pirates, who had every player wear No. 21 on Wednesday, also had this video honoring Clemente's legacy:
Clemente played in parts of 18 big-league seasons, all with Pittsburgh. He amassed a .317/.359/.475 (130 OPS+) batting line, with 240 home runs, 83 steals, and 94.8 Wins Above Replacement.
More importantly than Clemente's baseball stats, he made an impact off the field. He died on New Year's Eve 1972 when the plane he was on (as part of a humanitarian effort to deliver supplies to earthquake-affected Nicaragua) crashed.