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Clemente’s grandson to play for SUNY Canton

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CANTON — A trip to the north country five years ago stayed in the mind of Roberto Clemente III when it came time to choose a college.

The grandson of Hall of Famer Roberto Clemente chose SUNY Canton and will play baseball for the Kangaroos this spring.

Clemente, who lives in Puerto Rico, first came to the area when he was 14 as part of a youth national team that played games at Indian River High School and the Alex T. Duffy Fairgrounds.

Clemente, who will wear his grandfather’s No. 21 for SUNY Canton, wore No. 53 in that series and drew a lot of attention from fans and players who recognized his name.

“I decided to come here because of the courses SUNY Canton offers, and I wanted to come to an environment where I can be successful,” Clemente said in a statement. “The treatment I got from (north country) kids and community are something I never forgot.”

Clemente never met his famous grandfather, who died at age 38 on Dec. 31, 1972, in an airplane crash off the coast of San Juan, Puerto Rico. Clemente, who played for the Pittsburgh Pirates from 1955-72, was on his way to deliver aid and supplies to earthquake victims in Nicaragua when his plane crashed.

The elder Clemente made 15 all-star teams and was on two World Series championship teams with the Pirates, in 1960 and 1971. Clemente was the National League MVP in 1966.

He finished his career with a .317 lifetime average, 240 home runs and 1,305 RBIs. He picked up his 3,000 hit shortly before he died and the five-year wait for a Hall of Fame induction was waved and he entered Cooperstown in 1973.

While Clemente’s grandson knows it will be hard to match the on-field skills of his grandfather, he does hope to follow his legacy as a person.

“I hope people don’t expect me to play like him,” Clemente said. “However, I do want to continue to carry his traits of being a man of character.”

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