Happy Birthday, Clemente. Picture by JB Bradley.
Following his 1959 season—his fifth full year in the bigs—Hall-of-Fame outfielder Roberto Clemente asked for a raise, to $23,000. GM Joe L. Brown, architect of those great Pirates teams of the ‘60s and ‘70s, replied with a letter politely but firmly telling Clemente that he wasn’t good enough.
Before Game 7 of the 1971 World Series, Roberto Clemente told Roger Angell, “I want everybody in the world to know that this is the way I play all the time. All season, every season. I gave everything I had to this game.”
The following is excerpted from Santiago's 21: The Story of Roberto Clemente, a gorgeous graphic-novel biography of the martyred baseball great. Clemente got his 3,000th hit on Sept. 30, 1972, three months before he died in a plane crash. You can watch video of No. 3,000 here; Santiago's rendering below is infinitely…