April 17, 1955. Roberto Clemente begins his Hall of Fame career with a single off Johnny Podres of the Dodgers. Clemente would bang out 2,999 more hits before he tragically lost his life in a plane crash on December 31, 1972. Clemente was bringing relief supplies to earthquake victims in Nicaragua when the plane he was in crashed. His career slash line was .317/.359/.475 with 240 home runs and 1305 RBI. He was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in1973 via of a special election.
Clemente was an All-Star 12 times in 18 seasons of play, and saw action in 15 games . He was the National League MVP in 1966, and World Series MVP in 1971, 12 times he won the Gold Glove award from 1961 to 1972. He won four batting titles in 1961, 1964, 1965, and 1967. His number #21 was retired by the Pittsburgh Pirates.
He will be remembered not only for his play on the field, but his charity work that participated in the off-season.
The restrictions on travel during World War II denied the Cincinnati Reds the opportunity to train in sunny Florida. They were relegated to training at Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana. The groundskeeper at the time for the Reds, a man named Marty Schwab watched as a big strong hammered baseballs up and over an embankment that players on the big league club weren't doing in training camp that spring.
The Reds had discovered Ted Kluszewski, standout tight end on the Indiana University football team. The Reds anxious to sign the lefthand hitting first baseman were initially rebuffed. Big Klu didn't want to give up his college eligibility. He waited to sign with the Reds in 1946, and after two dominating seasons in the minor leagues he got the call to the show.
He went to play 15 seasons in the major leagues, his best four stint was 1953-1956, where was named a National League in each season. In 1954, he hit 49 home runs with 141 RBI, he put together a slash line that season of .326/.407/.642. Finishing second in the MVP voting to a guy from the New York Giants named Willie Mays.
He would play 15 years in the major leagues and finish with a career slash line of .298/.353/.498 with 279 home runs and 1028 RBI. He walked 492 times with only 365 strikeouts in 6469 plate appearances. On heard of numbers by today's standards. Injuries took their toll on Big Klu after the 1956 season, and his numbers diminished as a result. He was the hitting coach for the Big Red Machine teams of the 1970's under Sparky Anderson.
Known for cutting off the sleeves of his shirts to fit his huge biceps, the slugging first baseman was inducted into the Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame in 1962. His #18 was retired by the Reds.
Ron Santo broke in with the Chicago Cubs in 1960 with the secret he suffered Juvenile diabetes. His condition wouldn't be disclosed until 1971. In the meantime, he built a Hall of Fame career. Santo hit 342 home runs over the course of a career that extended from 1960-1974, all but one year as a Chicago Cub. He drove in 1331 RBI, he was nine time all-star, and won the Gold Glove award five straight seasons from 1964-1968. One of the best third basemen in his era.
He has the distinction of being the only third baseman to knock in 90 or more runs in eight seasons. Santo became the first 10 and 5 player (10 years in the league, and five those being with the same team) to veto a trade. When he vetoed a trade to the California. Santo was traded at the end of his career to the Chicago White Sox, where he played one season and retired.
In 1990, he joined the Chicago Cubs broadcast team. Santo was emotional in the booth enjoying Cubs wins as well as his despondency in defeat. September 28, 2003, the Chicago Cubs honored him by retiring his #10. He was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2012 by the Golden Era Committee. The annual Ron Santo walk raised some $65 million dollars for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.