QUEENS (PIX11) — Roberto Clemente was a Major League Baseball icon who made a massive impact on and off the field.
This year is the 50th anniversary of the death of Clemente. On Thursday, hundreds of people spent the day giving back in his name for the 21st Roberto Clemente Day.
The day celebrates both his on-field excellence (15-time All-Star, four-time batting champion) and selflessness in the community. He died in a plane crash on his way to bringing emergency supplies to earthquake-ravaged Nicaragua.
Clemente said that if you have a chance to help others and fail to do so, you’re wasting your time on this earth. Volunteers came to CitiField in Queens to carry on that message. Together, they packed 10,000 meals for Rise Against Hunger.
Fourteen former MLB players were among the volunteers. Each of them were recipients of the Roberto Clemente Award. Winning the award remains one of the proudest moments of former outfielder’s Curtis Granderson’s career.
On the field, the Mets and Pirates will honor Clemente by wearing his number 21 during Thursday night’s game. And before the game, Clemente’s grandson, Roberto Clemente III, will throw out the first pitch using a ball that was painted by one of Clemente’s nieces.