Celebrating Hispanic-American Heritage Month: Athlete Highlight

National Hispanic-American Heritage Month is celebrated from September 15-October 15. This 30-day span is a time to celebrate and learn about the rich and invigorating art, music history, traditions, and contributions of Hispanic-American people. It is important to recognize and appreciate the multi-talented Hispanic-American athletes that are often overlooked in mainstream media. 

Lisa Fernandez is a former professional women’s softball player and is not only regarded as one of the best softball players of all time but also one of the best female athletes in the world. Fernandez is a California native of Cuban and Puerto Rican descent. She was a pitcher and third baseman for the UCLA Bruins. She was a four time first team all-American and won two national championships. As a Bruin, she was 93-7 with a 0.52 ERA and 128 RBIs. As if her collegiate career was not impressive enough, Fernandez led the USA to three gold medals in the 1996, 2000 and 2004 summer Olympics. In her Olympic career, she was 7-1 with a 0.36 ERA and a batting average of .302. A true all-around dominant athlete, Fernandez set two Olympic records: most strikeouts in a single game (25) and highest batting average in the Olympic games (.545 in Athens). She was inducted into the Olympic Hall of Fame in 2012. 

Roberto Clemente Walker, known as Roberto Clemente, was born in Puerto Rico and was drafted into the MLB by the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1954. Clemente was an excellent offensive and defensive right fielder, with 3,000 career hits and 12 consecutive Gold Glove awards. Although it was a rocky start for Clemente, with a language barrier and various injuries, he became a star in the MLB. Clemente was the 1966 National MVP and led the Pirates to the World Series in 1971. After passing away in a tragic accident in 1972, Clemente was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1973.