The Pirates' Roberto Clemente played with an intensity that won him universal admiration. Despite an unorthodox batting style, he topped the .300 mark 13 times, won four batting crowns, amassed 3,000 hits, and went to 14 All-Star games. In 1960 he began a streak of eight consecutive seasons in which he batted no less than .312.
As good a hitter as he was, his defense was his specialty - he was as good as Willie Mays, with terrific range and perhaps he best throwing arm the game has ever seen. He paced outfielders in assists five times with his precise rifle-arm, and won the Gold Glove every year from 1961 to 1972.
He was the National League MVP in 1966 and was the star of the 1971 World Series. Clemente played like a man possessed, chasing down fly balls, unleashing great throws at every opportunity, batting .414 with 12 hits and two home runs, one in Pittsburgh's climactic Game Seven victory, and winning the Series MVP award. He was also a key performer in the magical 1960 Series, in which he hit .310 - in Game Seven, he kept an eighth-inning rally alive with a hustling infield single, setting up a go-ahead homer by Hal Smith.
On New Year's Eve, 1972, he died in a plane crash while flying relief supplies to Nicaraguan earthquake victims. The five-year mandatory waiting period for Hall of Fame eligibility was waived and Clemente was inducted in 1973.
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