#Shortstops: Deal of the Century
Roberto Clemente Walker was born on Aug. 18, 1934, in the San Antón barrio of Carolina, Puerto Rico, just northeast of San Juan. As one of seven children in a poor family, Roberto worked many days with his father and siblings loading and unloading trucks in the sugarcane fields. This labor-intensive work is thought to be how Clemente began to build his signature athleticism and strong right arm.
During his first year at Julio Vizcarrondo High School in Carolina, Clemente was recruited to play softball when Roberto Marín, the coach of the Sello Rojo company team, invited him to try out. He would go on to play two years for the rice company, switching from shortstop to outfield during that time. When he was 16, Clemente made the decision to put softball behind him and began playing for the Juncos, one of the premier teams in Puerto Rico’s AA amateur league.
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After two years of success with the Juncos, Clemente, who was 18 at the time, began his professional baseball career, inking a contract with the Cangrejeros de Santurce of the Puerto Rican Professional Baseball League. A copy of that contract is now preserved at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.
Roberto Clemente joined baseball immortality in 1973 when he was enshrined in the Hall of Fame.
Ian Oliver was the 2022 public programs intern in the Hall of Fame’s Frank and Peggy Steele Internship Program for Youth Leadership Development