Moderately Interesting Morning Fact Aug. 18, 2012: Clemente Courage Edition

Born today in 1934 was Roberto Clemente, the Pittsburgh Pirates baseball star with a sense of charity even greater than his prolific baseball prowess. A stellar outfielder and career .317 hitter, Clemente collected 3,000 career hits. But they don’t have categories on the back of baseball cards for the kind of man Clemente was.

From Wikipedia: Clemente spent much of his time during the off-season involved in charity work. When Managua, the capital city of Nicaragua, was affected by a massive earthquake on Saturday December 23, 1972, Clemente (who had been visiting Managua three weeks before the quake) immediately set to work arranging emergency relief flights. He soon learned, however, that the aid packages on the first three flights had been diverted by corrupt officials of the Somoza government, never reaching victims of the quake. Clemente decided to accompany the fourth relief flight, hoping that his presence would ensure that the aid would be delivered to the survivors. The airplane he chartered for a New Year’s Eve flight, a Douglas DC-7, had a history of mechanical problems and sub-par flight personnel, and it was overloaded by 4,200 pounds. It crashed into the ocean off the coast of Isla Verde, Puerto Rico immediately after takeoff on Sunday, Dec. 31, 1972. Clemente’s body was never recovered.

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