The Players’ Journal is proud to join Major League Baseball (MLB) in celebrating Roberto Clemente, one of the greatest players in the history of the game. Roberto Clemente Day was established by MLB to honor the legacy of the Hall of Famer and 15-time All-Star who died in a plane crash on New Year’s Eve 1972 while attempting to deliver supplies to earthquake victims in Nicaragua. Cubs RBI strives to follow his example through our annual community service events.
In his honor, MLB annually presents the Roberto Clemente Award to recognize the player who best represents the game of Baseball through sportsmanship, community involvement and positive contributions, both on and off the field. Club nominees for this prestigious award are announced on Roberto Clemente Day each year.
This year, MLB invited players of Puerto Rican descent, former winners of the Roberto Clemente Award and 2021 nominees to wear #21 on Clemente Day which sparked a conversation about whether the number “21” should be retired.
Some arguments are impossible to solve; ie, no single answer will be satisfactory to everyone because the truth is likely somewhere in the middle. This might be true of all arguments! Here is an example of a topical argument on which we would love to know your opinion:
Should Roberto Clemente’s number be retired across all of Major League Baseball?
Yes, absolutely? No, of course not? Perhaps, you already feel passionately one way or another about this question. Your job in this writing task is to persuade your audience that your position on this question is correct.
You are making your case to people who are interested and invested in this question, so pretty much anyone who knows baseball, has heard of Clemente, or has a strong feeling about honoring someone’s legacy.
The idea is to be persuasive. You want the audience to walk away agreeing with you. Exposure to the argument should leave your audience more knowledgeable about the subject than they were previously, even if they end up disagreeing with you.
- Who was Roberto Clemente? If you’re going to argue about whether his number should be retired, you should know as much about his life and accomplishments as possible. Remember that what Clemente accomplished on the field is only part of his story. Does he deserve this honor?
- What numbers have been retired previously and why? Numbers have been retired by individual teams. There is only one number across MLB that has been retired so far: #42, worn by Jackie Robinson. What would it mean to have another number retired by every team?
- Would retiring his number serve a purpose? Would retiring Roberto Clemente’s number help to recognize contributions of LatinX people in the U.S.?
- Argue the opposite. What is the best argument against your position and how would you respond? Imagine someone saying, “Yeah, but…” What would you say in response?
- Write out your argument. Make sure it is persuasive and that you definitely come down on one side of the issue.