From baseball player to saint? Baseball icon Roberto Clemente, former outfielder for the Pittsburgh Pirates, may soon be moving towards canonization through a movement spearheaded by Richard Rossi to push the process forward. Clemente, besides his “miraculous” baseball talent, was a Roman Catholic and extremely active in charity work. When he learned that his aid packages to the victims of the 1972 earthquake in Nicaragua were being confiscated, he boarded a plane himself to ensure the aid reached those in need. Sadly, the plane crashed soon after take off killing Clemente and four others, and Clemente’s body was never recovered. Many believe that his life of servitude and philanthropy should be considered saintly.
The two miracles needed for canonization are still unconfirmed. Richard Rossi, who is spearheading the effort for canonization, directed the film “Baseball’s Last Hero: 21 Clemente Stories,” a biography of Clemente’s life, starring Olympian Jamie Nieto as Clemente. After the film, Nieto was severely injured in a backflip accident in April 2016 and it was believed he would no longer be able to walk. However, the Olympian overcame all odds and walked one hundred and thirty steps on his wedding day, July 22, 2017. Rossi claims that this is a miracle from Clemente, which the filmmaker says was revealed to him in a previous meditation. Rossi has written to Pope Francis and according to some sources, “Pope Francis agreed if the miracle happened as Rossi predicted, the canonization of Roberto Clemente would go forward.” Since Nieto was healed, Rossi hopes this will lead to Clemente’s cause for sainthood to be considered further.
Clemente once said, “I want to be remembered as a ballplayer who gave all he had to give.” Even if Clemente never is officially declared a saint, his life of servitude is one to be commended, and surely his fans do remember him as someone who gave all he had to give, both on the baseball field and in charity.
*This post has been updated for accuracy