Blogs | Sports | News
Dejan Kovacevic's Blog

Pittsburgh sports talk with the Trib columnist

« Font size »
Decrease | Reset |Increase

Wakeup Call: A new route for No. 21

PHOENIX – Some sporting thoughts before the scorching sunrise …

>> My meeting with the Clemente family was aimed primarily at writing a column about how they should not give up the effort to retire No. 21 across baseball, but it turned out to be so much more when they shared with me their way-too-perfect Plan B. As you’ll see this morning, I absolutely love it.

I hope you enjoy reading this half as much as I enjoyed learning about it.

>> Joel Hanrahan looked last night like he’ll be thrilled to pitch Friday night in Houston or anywhere else. My All-Star Game coverage this morning gets into all that. And I’d strongly advise reading to the end for the stuff that the Giants’ Brian Wilson told me about Hanrahan and the Pirates.

>> That’s it for me on this trip. Spending the day trekking back home, so I’ll be out of touch, out of sight, out of mind and, most especially, out of commission.

Thanks to all for the input here, as always.


  1. MrB says:

    Interesting Plan B, so just the current ballclubs RCA winner could wear #21? A past winner, who didn’t continue to win the award would have to give up the number?

    I still would find it odd to see a current #21 Pirate uniform, but I could get use to it with respect to the honor.

  2. Sec.143RowMSeat24 says:

    @ Mr. B

    I’m pretty sure that number will always be retired by the Pirates. No one else will wear that number here.

    As far as retiring his number, I get why people here want it done, but I don’t think his number should be retired around baseball fully, or tied into his “Roberto Clemente Award”. I’m on board with only Jackie Robinson’s number being retired across all of baseball.

  3. leefoo says:

    Can’t wait for the real games to begin again.

    All Star games are a yawner anymore. Didn’t watch a pitch.

    All Foo


  4. JAL says:

    Some Shotgun Morning Links

    Pirates Prospects

    Mid-Season Analysis of the Top 50 Prospects


    Quad-Blogger Podcast

  5. JAL says:

    Bucs Dugout

    Interview: Barry Larkin Likes Pirates’ Pitching, But Picks Brewers To Win N.L. Central

  6. JAL says:

    The Green Weenie

    Preparing For the Stretch Run


    Looking Up at the Pittsburgh Pirates

  7. JAL says:

    Bleacher Report

    Alex Presley Providing A Spark For The Pittsburgh Pirates

    SB Nation

    MLB All-Star Game 2011: Andrew McCutchen Shouldn’t Be An All-Star, Columnist Argues

  8. Curt says:

    I love Brian Wilson. He cracks me up. I know he’s a little crazy, but it seems like he enjoys the game and enjoys the role of closer.
    Now back to the pennant race. I see the Brewers are already wheeling and dealing. This is going to be quite a second half battle for the Central.

  9. Brian says:

    Love the story about #21.

    Perhaps you should have the option to wear 21 the year after you earn the award.

    It would not be anyone’s “permanent” number, just an honor for your work over the last year.

  10. Fat Jimmy says:

    Dejan, can I tell you … I think the Clemente’s idea is absolutely fantastic.

    I thought about this some more. In my opinion, their idea is actually COOLER than the number being retired!

    The thing about a retired number: it sits in a little circle or star on an outfield fence, but no one talks about it and nothing new happens to it. It’s a step up from a gravestone. But with this, every year you’d have someone changing his number to 21, and there would be a renewed dialogue about Clemente and everything he was and everything he stood for.

    How awesome is that?

    Instead of 21 being a memorial, 21 would be an honor.

    I love this idea so much. What can we do to help Mrs. Clemente make this happen?

  11. Karen22 says:

    The only reason I watched the annual All-Star snoozer was to see if our Buccos got in the game…too bad I had to doze through most of the game to get to that point. It really has become a farce…

    Love the Clemente solution.

  12. Naterosboro says:

    I love this idea so much. What can we do to help Mrs. Clemente make this happen?

    Fat Jim,

    I know I’m not Dejan, but perhaps starting something on facebook and twitter is a good way to start.

    Social media is huge. You can really use it to your advantage.

  13. Naje says:

    Great piece, DK… and love the proposed 21 tribute. Earn the number… can’t beat that.

  14. leefoo says:

    I bet someone like Tabata would LOVE to earn it.

  15. dcpinpgh says:

    They need to bring back 42 for the players to wear. People need to hear why current players are wearing a number. How many people can name every retired number of the Pirates. If you provided a list of retired numbers how many Pirates fans could fill in the blanks with the correct name(think that would make a cool story). I still remember Frank Thomas wore 42 in honor of Jackie. Heck because of uniform numbers i even know the year the Soviets invaded Czechoslovakia.

  16. TheSaltyRogue says:

    I think a “21” patch on every teams Clemente award winner would be better than somebody changing uniform numbers every year.

    Fans and players themselves become tied to a certain number over time, why should they have to give that up even for a year? I think if a patch is on a sleeve, uninformed and children will ask “what’s that 21 patch about” and it has the same effect as a jersey change.

    GO BUCS.

  17. BenderHeel says:

    I don’t want to be the wet blanket, but I’m not a fan of this idea. I have nothing but respect for Roberto, but this is taking it way too far for a family to try to hold the number hostage because they didn’t like the answer that the Commissioner of baseball gave them. As they acknowledge, he wasn’t the first Latino in baseball; so the litmus test now is the first superstar of a particular ancestry? C’mon. The Pirates retired his number and even built the RF fence 21 feet high in his honor. An MLB-wide award is named in his honor. And he’s in the HOF. Isn’t that enough? (And you can answer that question only if you are willing to take off the black-and-gold glasses.)

  18. pipecock says:

    For those in Pittsburgh or those who may not venture into large cities with heavy Latino population, I think it’s pretty tough to understand exactly how HUGE Roberto is for that community. In Chicago’s west side you will find Roberto Clemente High School, with huge murals and mosaics with his depiction on the side of the building, for example. It’s really something very special, and we’re talking about nearly 30 years after his death. If I was going strictly by Pittsburgh’s love for the man, I would agree that nothing more is necessary on an MLB-wide scale. But that certainly isn’t the extent of his influence. I can’t even imagine how huge he is in Latin America itself!

  19. CDBrewer says:

    @Benderheel and pc,

    I had the accountant for the school I taught at wear a Clemente jersey to school for Super Hero Day during Spirit Week.
    That was in San Mateo CA. One of the guys pointed her my way and she told me she had never been to Pittsburgh, I know she is Jewish, and then she said, “he is my hero,” understated and matter-of-factly. Blew me away.
    I had worked in ghettos in NYC and SF and met kids who loved Clemente because of ethnicity (but were Yankee, A’s, Mets, and Giant fans) and the stories, but that was not this 50ish white woman.
    He transcends Pittsburgh, ethnicity, baseball. Having grown up in NJ, I didn’t know how much until I moved to different areas.

    I love the idea.

    As Fat Jimmy pointed out it would get the charity work spoken about and might actually encourage these guys to do more and keep them out of trouble some…

    I love the idea, and I agree he should not get the same honor as Jackie.

  20. pattonbb says:

    I remember seeing the tears and emotion on Ozzie Guillen’s face at the last all-star game in Pitt during the Roberto tribute.

    Love the Clemente idea too. And I agree with a few other’s that the #21 shouldn’t be retired from mlb. They retired Robinson’s, lets leave it at that. I’m not a fan of retiring numbers in general. But that’s a discussion for another day.

    So the Booers got K-Rod for cash and two players to be named? Wow. Looks like there will be a “going-out-of-business” sale this year that doesn’t take place in western Pa. Wonder if they’d be willing to deal Gee for a case of balls and a bat.

  21. sms says:

    it would appear with this number not being so over-issued that the players that get #21 already know the history & significance. unless i am mistaken, no average joe has ever asked or was issued this number since the 70’s.

  22. Naje says:

    @ sms – there are 17 mlb players with the #21. More than several of them are average Joe’s.

  23. Bizrow says:

    Does anyone, anyone know if they still sell the Roberto Statue T-shirt?

    Mine is ragged as all get out

  24. JAL says:

    Tabata at DH and Pearce at 3rd for Bradenton tonight. Pearce played with the GLC Pirates yesterday and went 2-3 with 2 RBI

  25. Bizrow says:

    Thanks for the update, JAL, so do we trade and wait for the troops to come over the hill, or make a deal?

    IMHO the Brewers trade makes this a topic, albeit not the only one

  26. JAL says:

    Another draft pick signing

    Another draft signing from Pirates Prospects

    Pirates Sign 8th Round Pick Jason Creasy

  27. JAL says:

    The troops coming back don’t fill the big needs. Tabata fits into what already is pretty good OF except for power. Pearce can play 1st or 3rd but nothing says he will hit for the power you want at the corner positions. Pearce showed good power in 2006 and 2007 but not much since.

  28. Bizrow says:

    I think NH needs to send a message, either by trade or by say an extension, the old crappy PBC stops here right now

  29. Bizrow says:

    91 locations represented in the blog

    I want to see 1,2, and 3 draft picks signed, sealed and delivered

  30. Karen22 says:

    Dave G—

    Does anyone care about Pirate “predictions?” No one on the PLANET predicted what’s happened so far. NO ONE. I have no idea what the 2nd half will bring, and neither does USA Today. I’m just going to enjoy the ride for as long as it lasts and be thankful that baseball matters this season!

Other blogs
Sports: Rob Rossi | Steel Mill | Chipped Ice | Bucco Blog | iPreps | Pitt Locker Room | Penn State Sports
News: This Just In | Trib List | ICycle | Flow Back | Stories Behind Trib Stories  

» Top Sports
» Top News
» Top Breaking News