NEWARK, N.J. — Route 21 in Newark is now named for number 21 in baseball – Roberto Clemente.
Clemente was a Puerto Rican professional baseball player whose accolades in right field earned him fans. He was the first Latino player inducted into the baseball hall of fame .But it was his efforts off the field that made him a lasting hero for the Latino community.
“As one would drive up and down the highway – you can see the number 21. It was almost screaming for it to be changed, Roberto Clemente,” Luis Angel Maisonave of Newark’s Roberto Clemente Little League said.
The Pittsburgh Pirates player, who played 18 seasons with the team and went to 2 World Series, died decades ago. But he still inspires kids today.
“He was a great humanitarian. Because he cared about helping other people,” Christopher Alaniz, 10, a 4th grader at the Roberto Clemente School in Newark said.
Clemente died while trying to help others, in a plane crash in 1972. He was on his way to Nicaragua to deliver supplies after a devastating earthquake.
“He fought for the little guy,” Maisonave said. “The common man. And that’s why he means a lot to this community.”