Pastor/actor/criminal seeks canonization for Roberto Clemente


If you think the process of getting a guy into the Hall of Fame is murky, convoluted and complicated, you should really look into the history of canonization sometime. It’s fascinating stuff, with at least some parallels to Hall of Fame voting:

  • It’s riddled with no small amount of politics and red tape that stand separate and apart from a candidate’s merits; and
  • It often relies on the assertion of wholly unprovable and often unsupportable claims of miraculous acts.

The biggest differences are that the Catholic Church tends to investigate the unprovable and unsupportable claims better than the BBWAA does. Also, the justification for a character clause with canonization is a LOT more compelling, even if it would likely be employed to keep sainthood candidates out less often than it does in baseball. I mean, let’s face it, there’s more proof that St. Shlabotnik healed the sick than Jim Rice was “the most feared hitter of his day” or that Jack Morris “pitched to the score.” And if Saint Augustine was a baseball player you know that voters would dwell WAY too much on his wild, early days.

Anyway, I bring this up because I just read an article about how a pastor from Pittsburgh is trying to get the Catholic Church to canonize Roberto Clemente. Seriously:

Saint Roberto?

Richard Rossi thinks a case can be made on behalf of the Pirates’ late right fielder, Roberto Clemente.

Mr. Rossi, who directed and played a scout in the recent movie “Baseball’s Last Hero: 21 Clemente Stories,” is seeking to document miracles in his pitch to have Mr. Clemente canonized as a saint.

On Friday, Mr. Rossi received a letter from the Vatican through the Apostolic Nunciature in Washington, D.C., that informs him the authority to begin the process rests with the archbishop of San Juan, Puerto Rico.

This Rossi guy sounds like a peach. He’s a pastor for what the article describes as a “non-traditional church.” He has acted in bit parts in things like the “X-Files.” He did time after accepting a plea bargain following a hung jury on an attempted murder charge. It’s . . . messy.

As for Clemente: yes, he died doing what lay people would properly call the work of a saint. Actual canonization is a bit more of a trick than that. We need miracles here, and not the kind that involve clutch hits. I mean, maybe if it can be proven that he willed Bill Mazeroski to hit that homer in 1960 we can start to fill out paperwork, but I feel like the Pope will require a bit more.

MLB, union resume blood testing after pandemic, lockout

Scott Taetsch-USA TODAY Sports
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NEW YORK – In the first acknowledgment that MLB and the players’ association resumed blood testing for human growth hormone, the organizations said none of the 1,027 samples taken during the 2022 season tested positive.

HGH testing stopped in 2021 because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Testing also was halted during the 99-day lockout that ended in mid-March, and there were supply chain issues due to COVID-19 and additional caution in testing due to coronavirus protocols.

The annual public report is issued by Thomas M. Martin, independent program administrator of MLB’s joint drug prevention and treatment program. In an announcement accompanying Thursday’s report, MLB and the union said test processing is moving form the INRS Laboratory in Quebec, Canada, to the UCLA Laboratory in California.

MLB tests for HGH using dried blood spot testing, which was a change that was agreed to during bargaining last winter. There were far fewer samples taken in 2022 compared to 2019, when there were 2,287 samples were collected – none positive.

Beyond HGH testing, 9,011 urine samples were collected in the year ending with the 2022 World Series, up from 8,436 in the previous year but down from 9,332 in 2019. And therapeutic use exemptions for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder dropped for the ninth straight year, with just 72 exemptions in 2022.

Overall, the league issued six suspensions in 2022 for performance-enhancing substances: three for Boldenone (outfielder/first baseman Danny Santana, pitcher Richard Rodriguez and infielder Jose Rondon, all free agents, for 80 games apiece); one each for Clomiphene (Milwaukee catcher Pedro Severino for 80 games), Clostebol (San Diego shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr. for 80 games) and Stanozolol (Milwaukee pitcher J.C. Mejia for 80 games).

There was an additional positive test for the banned stimulant Clobenzorex. A first positive test for a banned stimulant results in follow-up testing with no suspension.