American Experience on PBS ran an incredible special tonight on Roberto Clemente. Seeing and hearing The Great One again was haunting. Watching him reach his 3,000th hit was incredible. It was only short time later that he took off on that fateful flight on December 31, 1972…
Here’s a brief excerpt from the introduction:
On December 31, 1972, Roberto Clemente, a thirty-eight-year-old baseball player for the Pittsburgh Pirates, boarded a DC-7 aircraft loaded with relief supplies for survivors of a catastrophic earthquake in Managua, Nicaragua. Concerned over reports that the Nicaraguan dictatorship was misusing shipments of aid, Clemente, a native of nearby Puerto Rico, hoped his involvement would persuade the government to distribute relief packages to the more than 300,000 people affected by the disaster. Shortly after take off, the overloaded aircraft plunged into the Atlantic Ocean, just one mile from the Puerto Rican coast. Roberto Clemente’s body was never recovered.
AMERICAN EXPERIENCE presents Roberto Clemente, a one-hour documentary about an exceptional baseball player and committed humanitarian, who challenged racial discrimination to become baseball’s first Latino superstar. From independent filmmaker Bernardo Ruiz, Clemente features interviews with Pulitzer Prize-winning authors David Maraniss (Clemente) and George F. Will (Men at Work: The Craft of Baseball), Clemente’s wife Vera, Baseball Hall of Famer Orlando Cepeda, and former teammates, to present an intimate and revealing portrait of a man whose passion and grace made him a legend.
Roberto Clemente’s untimely death brought an end to a spectacular career. In his eighteen seasons with the Pirates, he led the team to two World Series championships, won four National League batting titles, received the Most Valuable Player award, and earned twelve consecutive Gold Gloves. In his final turn at bat for the 1972 season, Clemente made his 3,000th career hit — an achievement that had been reached by ten major league players before him, and only fifteen since.
The Great One: Roberto Clemente.