TRENTON – Legislation sponsored by Senator M. Teresa Ruiz to designate a portion of Route 21 in Newark as the “Roberto Clemente Memorial Highway” was approved yesterday by both houses of the Legislature. The bill was sent to the governor’s desk.
“Roberto Clemente is remembered as a sports legend, but he was also a humanitarian whose philanthropic work extended across the globe,” said Senator Ruiz (D-Essex). “It is fitting that we honor him in our great city with this measure.”
For 18 seasons, Roberto Clemente played baseball for the Pittsburgh Pirates. He was voted the Most Valuable Player in the 1971 World Series and was an acknowledged leader on the field. For his 18-year baseball career he wore the number 21.
Following the 1972 baseball season, Clemente organized a relief effort designed to provide emergency assistance to the victims of a Nicaraguan earthquake. In order to ensure that essential supplies reached those for whom they were intended, Clemente decided to fly to Nicaragua on a cargo plane – a mission from which he would never return. On December 31, 1972, the plane carrying Roberto Clemente crashed into the sea, killing everyone on board.
“Roberto Clemente is someone whose contributions went far beyond the world of sports. He was an inspiration to Latinos, but he was a trailblazer, a legacy maker and an inspiration to all,” added Senator Ruiz. “I am proud to sponsor this legislation to establish the ‘Roberto Clemente Memorial Highway’ on a portion of Route 21 in Newark, which will permanently bear his name.”
Clemente was posthumously inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1973, becoming only the second player for whom the five-year mandatory waiting period was waived. In his honor, the Newark Bears retired the number 21 jersey in 2009 at a ceremony at the Riverfront Stadium.
The bill (S1462) was approved by the Senate and the Assembly on Monday.