Daily Sports Smile: MLB players honor Roberto Clemente 50 years after his death

Robert D. Manfred, Jr.,MLB Commissioner, right, Nelson Cruz, 2021 Roberto Clemente Award winner and Luis Roberto Clemente, Son of the late Hall of Famer Roberto Clemente pose before Game 2 of baseball's World Series between the Houston Astros and the Atlanta Braves Wednesday, Oct. 27, 2021, in Houston. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)
Richard Morin
USA TODAY Sports+

Major League Baseball is taking a new step in honoring Roberto Clemente 50 years after the Hall of Famer's tragic death.

All eight active recipients of the Roberto Clemente Award will wear a commemorative patch featuring No. 21, Clemente's playing number, on the back of their caps this season.

The award is given to the player who "best represents the game of baseball through extraordinary character, community involvement, philanthropy and positive contributions, both on and off the field," according to MLB's website.

Previous recipients include: Nelson Cruz (2021), Adam Wainwright (2020), Carlos Carrasco (2019), Yadier Molina (2018), Anthony Rizzo (2017), Andrew McCutchen (2015), Clayton Kershaw (2012) and Albert Pujols (2008).

The display of the patch is similar to the NFL's practice for winners of the Walter Payton Man of the Year Award. Active recipients of the award, which also celebrates charitable endeavors, have worn a commemorative jersey patch since 2017.

Clemente was an outfielder with the Pittsburgh Pirates for 18 years before his death in a plane crash at age 38. He had chartered the plane for an offseason flight in an effort to supply emergency relief supplies to Nicaragua, which had been affected by a severe earthquake in 1972.

He was posthumously inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame via a special vote in 1973.