Baseball Making a Comeback in Puerto Rico


Puerto Rican baseball may finally be bouncing back from the loss of its favorite player, Roberto Clemente, dedicating a tournament to him four decades after his death.
Clemente died in a plane crash off the coast of Puerto Rico on Dec. 31, 1972, while delivering supplies to earthquake victims in Nicaragua. Thousands mourned the passing of the Hall of Fame player who had won 12 Gold Glove awards and has an annual sportsmanship award named after him, according to a FoxNewsLatino article.
“I always think of Clemente because he did so much in so many ways to help the game, people of his country, everything,” said Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig. “How he died was a great testament to his desire to help other human beings. He was an amazing guy. Amazing on the field, better off the field.”
Puerto Rican baseball officials have been looking for another Clemente ever since. The Puerto Rico Baseball League has added two more teams, for a total of six, and this year was renamed the Roberto Clemente Professional Baseball League. Major League Baseball chiefs recently reported the second-highest number of signings from Puerto Rico since 2000 in the past year. The Puerto Rican winter league’s tournament was named after Clemente this year.
There are 18 Puerto Rico-born players in the major leagues, the lowest number since 1968, a decrease from 29 in 2011 and a record high of 53 in 2001. Regular-season MLB games played in Puerto Rico have dipped from 23 in 2003 to three in 2010. The Puerto Rico Baseball League canceled play in 2007 for the first time, blaming a drop in attendance and profits.
Photo courtesy Smithsonian Institute