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 Buffalo Bisons

70 Years Ago, Roberto Clemente Collected his First Professional Hit... in Buffalo

April 25, 2024 - International League (IL)
Buffalo Bisons News Release

Seventy years ago today, the first hit of a legendary baseball career was recorded in a box score... and it happened right here in Buffalo.

On April 25, 1954, a 19-year old Montreal Royals outfielder got the start in center in the second game of a doubleheader against the hometown Buffalo Bisons at Offermann Stadium. Having not played in the first game of the twinbill, it was in an 8-1 Herd victory in game two that he finally had the chance to hit. And with a single in three trips to the plate, a young Roberto Clemente had the first base hit of his professional career.

From there, a baseball legacy was born. Clemente was more than just a great player... more than a Baseball Hall of Famer. Clemente was an icon that transcended sports. A native of Puerto Rico, he was the greatest player from a culture and a region that loved the game of baseball. He was overwhelming adored and admired by everyone who watch him gracefully dominate on the field and at the plate. Known as 'The Great One," Clemente also often spent his offseasons doing charity work and helping others. Unfortunately, Clemente was tragically taken from this world far too early. On December 30, 1972, Clemente was killed in a plan crash off the coast of Puerto Rico after he decided to personally escort supplies he was sending to the people of Nicaragua after an earthquake tore through the country just a week prior.

The legacy of Clemente -and Buffalo's place in the start of his legendary career- is just part of the Bisons joining Minor League Baseball's "Copa de la Diversion™" initiative by playing three games in 2024 as "Luces de Buffalo." In partnership with the Hispanic Heritage Council of WNY, the Bisons have adopted this alternate identity to celebrate the history of and bring awareness to the many amazing Hispanic and Latino cultures living and thriving in Western New York.

World Series MVP Roberto Clemente hit .414 in the 1971 Fall Classic, including a Game 7 home run 52 years ago today. The legendary outfielder helped the @Pirates defeat Baltimore for their fourth title. #postseason #MLBpostseason #WorldSeries

Clemente will forever be cherished and remembered as one of the best players in baseball history. Originally signed by the Brooklyn Dodgers -which is why he started his career with the Dodgers' Triple-A affiliate in Montreal- Clemente was drafted first overall the following season by the Pittsburgh Pirates. He would go on to average .317 and collect exactly 3,000 hits in 18 years with the Pirates, winning four batting titles and 12 Gold Gloves to go along with 15 National League All-Star selections. He won two World Series Championships with Pittsburgh and was the NL Most Valuable Player in 1966. He was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame a year after his death when the Hall held a special election and waived the mandatory five-year waiting period. He was the first Latin American player ever to be elected to the Hall.

Roberto Clemente was elected to the Hall of Fame #OTD in 1973, becoming the first Latin American player enshrined in Cooperstown.

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