ST. LOUIS — Winners of the Roberto Clemente Award, including three legendary Cardinals, will wear Clemente's No. 21 on the back of their caps for the rest of their major league careers.
Major League Baseball made the announcement Thursday, saying it was a “special tribute to his enduring legacy.” The announcement was timed for the 50th anniversary of the year in which Clemente died in a plane crash while on a humanitarian relief effort.
The award is announced during each World Series and given to a player for “extraordinary character, community involvement, philanthropy and positive contributions, both on and off the field.”
Clemente was from Puerto Rico and became a Hall of Fame right fielder with the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Active Clemente winners include Nelson Cruz (Nationals), Carlos Carrasco (Mets), Clayton Kershaw (Dodgers), Andrew McCutchen (Brewers), Anthony Rizzo (Yankees) and Yadier Molina, Albert Pujols and Adam Wainwright (Cardinals).
“The Roberto Clemente Award is easily the best award I've won in my career,” Rizzo said. “Just representing him, having that recognition of his number on the forefront of a lot of players' hats throughout the league will be in his honor. It’s very deserving because he served everyone else.”
Pujols won the award in 2008, Molina won in 2018 and Wainwright won in 2020. Other Cardinals to win the award include Lou Brock in 1975, Ozzie Smith in 1995 and Carlos Beltran in 2013.