Eddie Rosario, the Minnesota Twins left fielder, can’t remember the exact year, but he was a youth baseball player in his native Puerto Rico when he was given the choice of two jerseys: No. 21 or another number.
“I’m not Roberto Clemente,” said Rosario, 27, who now wears one of the next-closest options, No. 20. “I can’t wear that.”
No. 21 is sacred in baseball, particularly to Puerto Ricans, because it was the longtime number of Clemente, the iconic player who hailed from the island. Even as a youngster in Guayama, Rosario knew of Clemente’s importance, which led him to join the majority of Puerto Rican major leaguers in doing something that Major League Baseball hasn’t: decline the use of No. 21 in an effort to essentially retire it.