Roberto Clemente - Clemente's Personality
Known as a hypochondriac, Clemente frequently suffered from a variety of injuries and ailments: headaches, backaches, stomach pains, malaria, insomnia, bone chips, and pulled muscles. According to Steve Wulf in Sports Illustrated, someone once asked Clemente how he was feeling. "Well," Clemente said, "My bad shoulder feels good, but my good shoulder feels bad." However, when he was called a hypochondriac, Clemente replied, "If I was a hypochondriac, I wouldn't be playing," according to another Sports Illustrated article by Wulf.
Although he worried about his own health, this did not prevent Clemente from being concerned about others' feelings and welfare. He was notably generous with fans and others. After the Pirates beat the New York Yankees in the 1960 World Series, Clemente did not attend the team party—instead, he walked around Pittsburgh thanking the fans. In Sports Illustrated, Steve Wulf quoted his wife, who said, "He would rather be late for a meeting with the governor than pass by a stranger who needed help with a tire."
Clemente's desire to help others would later contribute to his early death, which he often feared. According to Steve Crowe in the Knight Ridder/Tribune News Service, Clemente had a deep fear that he would not live to see his children grow up. In early November of 1972,
he dreamed that he was watching his own funeral; the dream would later seem oddly prophetic.
In late December of 1972, an earthquake destroyed most of Managua, Nicaragua; 6,000 people were killed, 20,000 injured, and 250,000 left homeless, without food, clothing, water, or medical supplies. Clemente helped organize relief missions to the survivors in the stricken city. On December 31, 1972, Clemente's plane took off from San Juan, Puerto Rico carrying eight tons of supplies. A few minutes later, it exploded and crashed into the sea. Clemente and the four other people on board were killed in the crash, and although divers searched for his remains, his body was never found. Puerto Rico declared three days of official mourning for its lost hero.