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The Tampa Bay Rays made MLB history Thursday when they started the first all Latin-American lineup on Roberto Clemente Day.
In a winning game against the Toronto Blue Jays, 11-0, The Tampa Bay Rays started an unprecedented nine Latin American players on the 21st annual Roberto Clemente Day hosted by the MLB.
“Very happy, especially on a day like today,” said Yandy Diaz, who hit a three-run home run. “I think the Latinos are really putting a stamp on the game of baseball.”
The starting line-up included: Randy Arozarena, Wander Franco, Harold Ramirez, Manuel Margot, David Peralta, Isaac Paredes, Rene Pinto, Yandy Diaz and Jose Siri.
All nine Rays starters wore the number 21 to honor the Hall of Fame outfielder from Puerto Rico.
History on Roberto Clemente Day!
The Rays starting lineup featured all Latin American-born players, the first time in MLB history. pic.twitter.com/bM4dHdHX65
— MLB (@MLB) September 15, 2022
MLB’s 21st Annual Roberto Clemente Day
Thursday marked the 21st annual Roberto Clemente Day hosted by the MLB to honor the first Caribbean and Latin American player enshrined in the Hall of Fame.
The strong-armed right fielder won 12 Gold Gloves, four batting titles and the 1966 National League MVP award. He helped lead the Pirates to a pair of championships in 18 brilliant seasons and was the 1971 World Series MVP.
Clemente died in a plane crash at age 38 attempting to deliver relief supplies to earthquake victims in Nicaragua on New Year’s Eve 1972. This year’s celebration honored the 50-year anniversary of Clemente’s death.
“It is a very special energy today,” said Luis Clemente, Roberto’s son. “The energy is totally different this year.”
There has been a push in recent years for MLB to retire Clemente’s No. 21 for all teams, the way the sport did in 1997 to honor Dodgers pioneer Jackie Robinson for breaking baseball’s color barrier 50 years earlier.
“It’s a situation where I think it is gaining more momentum,” Pirates manager Derek Shelton said. “I think today’s one of the best days of the year.”