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Hall of Fame slugger Roberto Clemente died 40 years ago on New Year’s Eve, and MLB Network is running a video to help us remember his impact. You can watch it above. You probably already know a lot of the background. Clemente was killed with four others in a plane crash as they tried to get food and other supplies from his native Puerto Rico to earthquake-ravaged Nicaragua. He was just 38 years old and finished with exactly 3,000 hits in his Major League Baseball career.
Clemente’s premature end is sort of the “Day the Music Died” for baseball fans. Even if you didn’t have a chance to see Clemente play, it chokes you up. It certainly makes you wonder what might have been, if he had lived. The Hall of Fame waved its five-year waiting period — something it had done only for Lou Gehrig — and Clemente was admitted to Cooperstown the summer following his death. The first big baseball star from Latin America, Clemente is considered a Jackie Robinson-type figure to many.
But did you also know that Neil Walker, the Pirates second baseman today, might not be here if not for Clemente?
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