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Roberto Clemente

Roberto Clemente, the first of 7 Latinos in 3,000-hit club

Clemente, Carew, Palmeiro, Rodriguez, Beltre, Pujols, Cabrera are in exclusive 3,000-hit club

Nobody could have imagined that Roberto Clemente would not have another regular season hit after he joined the 3,000-hit club. More was expected from the Great One. He was only 38 at the time.

Only 13,117 fans showed up at Pittsburgh’s Three Rivers Stadium on that Saturday afternoon 50 years ago to watch the New York Mets and Pittsburgh Pirates. Clemente died three months later on a doomed flight with relief supplies for Nicaraguan earthquake victims.

The Great One arrived at Three Rivers Stadium 50 years ago with 2,999 career hits over his brilliant 18-year career. No Latino player had collected 3,000 hits in Major League Baseball at that point.

Clemente struck out against Mets lefthander Jon Matlack in his first at-bat to end the first inning that afternoon. The 15-time All-Star didn’t wait very long for the historic hit, though.

Roberto Clemente jumped on Matlack’s hanging curve for a double to left field to lead off the fourth inning, becoming the 11th member of baseball’s 3,000-hit club.

Following Roberto Clemente

On the 50th anniversary of Roberto Clemente becoming the first Latino in the 3,000-hit club, we look back at all of the Latinos in the 3000-hit club.

In the 50 years since Clemente joined the 3,000-hit club, 22 other major leaguers have joined that exclusive club. Clemente remains the only Puerto Rican among the 33 members of the 3,000-hit club. Yet, there are now six other Latinos in the 3,000-hit club.

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Four Latin American countries are represented among the seven Latinos in the 3,000-hit club. The Great One remains the only Puerto Rican on the 3,000-hit club. Rod Carew, the second in the exclusive club, was born in Panama.

Rafael Palmeiro was born in Cuba. The latest member of the club is Venezuelan Miguel Cabrera. Three of the Latinos in the 3,000-hit club have roots in the Dominican Republic. Alex Rodriguez is a Dominican-American. Albert Pujols and Adrian Beltre were both born in the Dominican Republic.

Rod Carew follows Roberto Clemente

Latinos 3,000-hit club
ANAHEIM, CA – JULY 12: Hall of Famer Rod Carew.(Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

Rod Carew finished his Hall of Fame career with 3,053 hits. The native of Panama joined the 3,000-hit club as a member of the California Angels on Aug. 4, 1985.

The 18-time All-Star and 1967 American League Rookie of the Year singled off Frank Viola for his 3,000th hit. The seven-time batting title champion collected his 3,000th hit in the final season of his career. The 1985 season was actually the only one in which Carew wasn’t an All-Star.

At an All-Star Game once, Roberto Clemente famously asked Carew to mentor the next generation of Latino players.

Carew was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1991 on the first ballot. The 1977 AL MVP received votes from 90.5 percent of the the Hall of Fame voters.

Rafael Palmeiro

Latinos 3,000-hit club
SEATTLE – JULY 15: Rafael Palmeiro (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)

If not for a positive steroids test, Rafael Palmeiro would have become the second Cuban native voted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame. The four-time All-Star appeared to seal his Hall of Fame ticket on July 15, 2005, when he doubled off Joel Pineiro for his 3,000th hit.

At that point, he had already cleared two key milestones that usually secured spots among the immortals in Cooperstown, N.Y. He was in the 3,000-hit and 500-home run club.

Less than a month after his 3,000-hit, though, Palmeiro tested positive for steroids. He was suspended 10 days by Major League Baseball for testing positive for Winstrol.

The Havana native’s Hall of Fame chances died with that positive test even though he finished with 3,020 hits and 569 home runs.

Alex Rodriguez

Latinos 3,000-hit club
Portrait of Alex Rodriguez. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Allsport/Getty Images)

Alex Rodriguez accumulated the numbers that were usually worthy of first-ballot entry into the Hall of Fame. He got his 3,000th hit off future Hall of Famer Justin Verlander on June 19, 2015.

Despite retiring fourth on baseball’s all-time home run list with 696 and 3,115 hits, Rodriguez received only lukewarm support this year in his first year on the Hall of Fame ballot.

His resume is one of the best in baseball in terms of awards and numbers. He was a three-time MVP, 14-time All-Star and batting champ. He also won 10 Silver Slugger Awards and two Gold Gloves.

But he was suspended for using performance-enhancements drugs. If Palmeiro, Roger Clemens, Barry Bonds and Sammy Sosa are an indication, Rodriguez won’t likely be elected to the Hall of Fame on the Baseball Writers’ Association of America ballot.

Adrian Beltre

Latinos 3,000-hit club
Adrian Beltre (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

Adrian Beltre was quietly one of the greatest players of his generation. The Texas Rangers legend doubled off Wade Miley on July 30, 2017, to become the 31st member of the 3,000-hit club.

Beltre became the first player born in the Dominican to reach the 3,000-hit club. The four-time All-Star was considered one of the best defensive third basemen of his era. He was also one of the team leaders when the Rangers won the American League pennant in 2011.

He finished his career with 3,166 hits and 477 home runs. Beltre played for the Dodgers, Mariners, Red Sox and Rangers in his career. Beltre is on track to become the fifth native of the Dominican Republic elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame. Beltre may even join Pedro Martinez and David Ortiz as first-ballot Hall of Famers.

Albert Pujols, a Roberto Clemente Award winner

Latinos 3,000-hit club
SEATTLE, WA – MAY 04: Albert Pujols #5 of the Los Angeles Angels smiles on base after hitting a single in the fifth inning against the Seattle Mariners to reach 3,000 career hits during their game at Safeco Field on May 4, 2018 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images)

Albert Pujols has capped his brilliant career with a flourish back where it all started. He hit the 700th home run of his career last weekend to join Babe Ruth, Hank Aaron and Barry Bonds on that prestigious club.

He became the 32nd member of the 3,000-hit club on May 14, 2018, with a single off Mike Leake. Pujols became the second Latino to join the 3,000-hit club as a member of the Angels, joining Carew.

Barring some unforeseen issues, Pujols will join the immortals in Cooperstown five years after he retires. The 11-time All-Star and three-time MVP is ninth on baseball’s all-time hits list and fourth on the home run list.

The 2001 National League Rookie of the Year enters the weekend with 3,378 career hits. Pujols is also one of the best stories in baseball this year. Pujols has also contributed off the field as Roberto Clemente once did. He earned the Roberto Clemente Award for his philanthropist efforts.

Miguel Cabrera

Latinos 3,000-hit club
DETROIT, MICHIGAN – APRIL 23: Miguel Cabrera #24 of the Detroit Tigers celebrates after hitting a single, the 3000th hit of his career, during the first inning in Game One of a doubleheader against the Colorado Rockies at Comerica Park on April 23, 2022 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images)

Detroit Tigers legend Miguel Cabrera became the latest member of the 3,000-hit club in April. The two-time MVP and 12-time All-Star collected his 3,000th hit with a single off Antonio Senzatela on April 23 at home.

With that single, Cabrera put Venezuela in the 3,000-hit club. The four-time batting champ from Maracay, Venezuela, remains the last hitter to win the Triple Crown.

He accomplished that feat in 2012, when he led the American League with 44 home runs, 139 RBIs and a .330 batting average. His single through the right side gave him milestone hits in consecutive seasons. Cabrera joined the 500-home run club last year.

At this pace, the four-time batting champion and seven-time Silver Slugger winner will cruise into the Baseball Hall of Fame. From Roberto Clemente to Cabrera, the 3,000-hit club has had a greater Latino flavor once Clemente broke through.

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