Wagner: For many Latino players, Roberto Clemente’s number is off-limits too

From James Wagner at the New York Times on April 16, 2019:

Eddie Rosario, the Minnesota Twins left fielder, can’t remember the exact year, but he was a youth baseball player in his native Puerto Rico when he was given the choice of two jerseys: No. 21 or another number.

“I’m not Roberto Clemente,” said Rosario, 27, who now wears one of the next-closest options, No. 20. “I can’t wear that.”

No. 21 is sacred in baseball, particularly to Puerto Ricans, because it was the longtime number of Clemente, the iconic player who hailed from the island. Even as a youngster in Guayama, Rosario knew of Clemente’s importance, which led him to join the majority of Puerto Rican major leaguers in doing something that Major League Baseball hasn’t: decline the use of No. 21 in an effort to essentially retire it.

Of the 235 Puerto Rico-born players who have appeared in the major leagues since Clemente’s death 47 years ago, only 16 have used No. 21 — and none in the past five seasons, according to Baseball Reference.

Read the full article here: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/04/16/sports/roberto-clemente-number-retired.html

Originally published: April 17, 2019. Last Updated: April 17, 2019.