Roberto Clemente debuted with the Pittsburgh Pirates on April 17, 1955 in the first of a double header against the Brooklyn Dodgers. At the beginning of his time with the Pirates, he experienced frustration because of racial tension between himself, the local media, and even some of his teammates.
Clemente responded to this by stating, “I don’t believe in color”. He noted that, during his upbringing, he was taught to never discriminate against someone based on ethnicity.
During the middle of the season, Clemente was involved in a car accident; this caused him to miss several games with an injury in his lower back.
He finished his rookie season with an average of .255, despite confronting trouble hitting certain types of pitches. His defensive skills, however, were highlighted during this season.
During the off season, Clemente played with the Santurce Crabbers in the Puerto Rican baseball winter league, where he was already considered a star.