Push to Retire Clemente’s Number Begins

June 12, 2007

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Last night the high school on Chicago's West Side named after Roberto Clemente hosted the Midwest premier of a documentary about him.

It was part of a campaign to retire the baseball legend's jersey number from the Major Leagues.

From our Humboldt Park bureau, Chicago Public Radio's Chip Mitchell reports.

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The film's 200 viewers didn't contain their feelings about the Puerto Rican right-fielder who wore Number 21.

APPLAUSE

Clemente won four batting crowns and 12 gold gloves in 18 seasons, all with the Pittsburgh Pirates.

But Latinos remember Clemente as much for his humanitarian work.

In 1972, he died at age 38 in the crash of a plane he chartered to bring earthquake relief to Nicaragua.

New Yorker Julio Pabón is national coordinator of Retire 21.

He says the strongest support comes from the half mile of West Division Street known as Paseo Boriqua.

PABON: “It's so fantastic and it just lends itself well to this campaign that, from here, all types of sparks are going off.”

Chicago last month became the first city to call for retiring Clemente's number.

In Humboldt Park, I'm Chip Mitchell, Chicago Public Radio.