Who Was The Nicest MLB Baseball Player Ever?
The nicest MLB player of all time was Roberto Clemente of the Pittsburgh Pirates. This right fielder put up impressive stats all throughout his career, but his life and attitude off the field were just as impressive. Read on to learn more about Clemente and how he earned the reputation as baseball’s nicest player.
Career-long Pirate Roberto Clemente played right field in Pittsburgh from 1955-1972. Winning 12 straight Gold Gloves, Clemente was MVP of the National League in 1966 and won four total batting titles. Today, only 33 MLB players have hit 3,000 hits or more; Clemente was one of the first 11 of these players, totaling exactly 3,000 hits and a .317 batting average by the tragic and abrupt end of his career.
Clemente was also great in the postseason, helping the Pirates reach and win the World Series on two separate occasions, and in 1971 being named the World Series MVP. In 1973, shortly after Clemente’s untimely death the previous year, the Cooperstown Hall of Fame decided to waive the five-year waiting period required for Hall of Fame inductions and immediately honor Clemente with a place in Cooperstown.
Clemente’s Personal Life
On December 31, 1972, Roberto Clemente, still in the midst of his MLB career, boarded a plane to Nicaragua on a humanitarian mission to help with earthquake relief. Clemente was known for his charitable work in his home country Puerto Rico, but had extended the reach of his philanthropy into Nicaragua before, too. He held free baseball clinics in poverty-stricken areas, delivering the love of the game and humanitarian supplies to those who needed it most.
Prior to heading on this specific mission, Clemente had raised 26 tons of supplies and over $150,000 worth of donations. Clemente boarded a DC-7 plane that, unbeknownst to him, was in extremely poor condition and headed towards Managua, Nicaragua. Tragically, the plane crashed mid-journey, taking Celemente’s, pilot Jerry Hill’s, and three other passengers’ lives in the wreckage.
Roberto Clemente Award
The nicest man in baseball is remembered each year by the MLB when the Roberto Clemente Award is given out to the professional baseball player who best embodies Clemente’s memory. A player is chosen annually who makes positive contributions to his community, impressive philanthropic efforts, and generally exhibits exemplary character on and off the field.
Some famous winners of the Roberto Clemente Award are Willie Mays, Cal Ripken Jr., Sammy Sosa, Albert Pujols, Derek Jeter, David Ortiz, and many, many more. Though Roberto Clemente’s fantastic career was tragically interrupted, the MLB makes an effort to keep the most important part of his legacy alive with this character-based annual achievement.