Walker owes his life to Clemente


It’s already a long list, but here’s another thing for which Pirates fans can thank Roberto Clemente: Neil Walker’s birth. ESPN will tell the tale at 9 a.m. Sunday on “Outside the Lines” and again on the 10 a.m. SportsCenter.

Clemente died in a plane crash on New Year’s Eve 1972 while trying to take supplies to earthquake victims in Nicaragua. One of the people who helped load the plane was Tom Walker, who was pitching winter ball after making his major league debut with the Expos the previous summer. Walker asked if he could go on the trip, but Clemente told him stay behind. “It’s one of those points in my life where my life could have been taken,” Tom Walker told ESPN. “I’ve had such an incredibly great life. I have to think back and thank Roberto for not letting me go on the plane.”

Neil Walker was born in 1985. “It’s very odd to think about it,” Neil Walker said. “And, you know, you do get a little emotional when you think about how different things could be or how fortunate you are. And, you think of Roberto Clemente and how little I know him, but how much he’s impacted my life.”