Roberto Clemente Walker won the National League MVP award, two World Series with the Pittsburgh Pirates, twelve Gold Gloves and was the first player to hit a walk-off, inside-the-park grand slam — but none of those achievements are why MLB grants a Roberto Clemente Award to a deserving player every year. The eponymous award is given to the player who best embodies Clemente's humanitarian spirit and commitment to doing good works — players such as 2008 Clemente-Award winner Albert Pujols, for example. The Puerto Rico-born Clemente was the game's first Latino superstar; he endured racism from the stands and the establishment with a grace that shamed his taunters, even as he proved his worth on and off the field. Clemente worked during his off-days and off-seasons to bring comfort to sick kids in hospitals, to talk about human rights and to aid the poor in his beloved Puerto Rico. He died in a plane crash at age 38, delivering food and medicine to Nicaragua in the aftermath of an earthquake. Bernardo Ruiz's PBS documentary American Experience: Roberto Clementerevisits the life of a man who changed the game, and the world, for the better. Roberto Clemente screens at noon today at the Missouri History Museum (Lindell Boulevard and DeBaliviere Avenue; 314-746-4599 or www.mohistory.org). Admission is free.
Tue., Oct. 13, 2009