Roberto Clemente’s Hall of Fame career with the Pittsburgh Pirates spanned 18 seasons. Starting in right field for most of his career, Clemente hit .317 and had 3,000 hits with 240 homeruns and twelve Gold Gloves for defensive play. He was also named MVP by the sportswriters in 1966 and played for two World Series champions (1960 and 1971).
Clemente, a native of Puerto Rico, also had a philanthropic heart, and it was that heart that had him riding in a Douglas DC-7CF bound for Managua, Nicaragua. Managua was at the epicenter of a magnitude 6.2 earthquake on December 23, 1972, which killed 5,000 and also left over 60% of the 400,000 residents of the city homeless. Clemente had been in Managua at the beginning of December, and the baseball star had organized three previous relief flights since December 23. This one was the fourth.