Despite not having comparable statistics to some of his contemporary outfielders, Roberto Clemente is still widely considered one of the most popular and talented baseball players ever. Clemente is also a great lesson for collectors. Sometimes it is not the best players who are widely collected, but the ones who are most beloved. Roberto Clemente was a fan favorite, and consequently his memorabilia is some of the most collected in all of baseball.

Had Clemente lived longer, he may have gone down as one of the most accomplished players ever, statistics and all. Instead, his life and baseball career were tragically cut short when a plane he chartered on New Years Eve 1972 to bring earthquake aid to Nicaragua crashed right after takeoff. This selfless act of charity typified Roberto Clemente.

A native of Puerto Rico, Clemente helped usher in a new era of Latin American stars in baseball. Many of today’s brightest baseball stars owe a debt of gratitude to Clemente for paving the way for them.

Clemente debuted for the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1955—he played for the team his entire career. There is only one recognized rookie card for Clemente, a 1955 Topps, which is in a set that also included rookie cards for fellow Hall of Famers Sandy Koufax and Harmon Killebrew.

The Clemente card, which shows him in two poses against a green background—a headshot, plus Clemente at bat—is considered more difficult to find in good condition than the Koufax or Killebrew cards. The biggest problem for the card was poor centering, which tends to be accentuated by the green background.

Early in his career Clemente was by no means a star. He struggled to hit for power, though his defense—which led him to 12 consecutive Gold Glove awards to end his career—was outstanding. In addition to being fast and athletic in the outfield, Clemente had an absolute missile of an arm, which scared the daylights out of base runners—few tested him.

Though Clemente would have other popular and valuable cards after his rookie year, such as his 1963 Topps card, it was not until 1968, when he was a full-fledged star, that anoth...

That card, which shows a stoically suave Clemente gazing to the left of the camera, is unequivocally the card that gives Clemente collectors the biggest fits. Not only is it rare, it also has many flaws, which is not surprising since the set was not released publicly. The plastic coating on the card is prone to cracking, and the print on the backside of the card is often out of focus, to name a few of the card’s numerous problems.

By 1968 Clemente had already won four batting titles, an MVP award, and a World Series. Three years later, in 1971, he would win his second world title.

The following year, 1972, Clemente was plagued by injuries. He only managed to play in 102 games, but in his very last regular season at-bat he hit a double for his 3,000th career hit. No one knew it at the time, but Clemente would never step to the plate in a regular season game again.

Clemente’s death shocked the baseball world—in his usual selfless manner, he had felt compelled to accompany relief rations to Nicaragua himself. But his premature death also makes his collectibles even more sought after because his signature, for example, is very scarce. In fact, finding a Clemente autograph today is difficult. Many of his autographs are simply “cuts” (autographs on pieces of paper).

In 1973, the Baseball Hall of Fame decided to waive its five-year waiting period for entry for the deceased Clemente, an honor that only had been bestowed once previously, for a dying Lou Gehrig. Hall of Fame busts are among the most popular Clemente collectibles, as are commemorative coins, statues, new and game-used jerseys, and newspaper clippings from around the time of his death.

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Recent News: Roberto Clemente Memorabilia

Source: Google News

MLB to Officially Retires Roberto Clemente Number?
Latin One, February 11th

SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICO - SEPTEMBER 9: ***PUERTO RICO OUT***INTERNET OUT** Sammy Sosa #21 of the Chicago Cubs walks past signs which pay tribute to Roberto Clemente #21, Orlando Cepeda #30 and Ruben Gomez #22 prior to the Cubs ...Read more

Roberto Clemente's widow congratulates Springfield boy selling cards in honor ...
MassLive.com, February 7th

One of the main reasons Brady was so willing to sell his collection is a philosophy the family has always lived by, a saying by baseball great Roberto Clemente, which reads " Any time you have the opportunity to make a difference in this world and you...Read more

Pirates Schedule in Puerto Rico Finally Set
Rum Bunter, January 23rd

The MLB will be celebrating Roberto Clemente day on May 31. So look for throwback uniforms in the Puerto Rico games. It is also the day the team names their nominee for the Roberto Clemente Award. The award is presented annually to the player that...Read more

Groups Seek Artwork Honoring Roberto Clemente for New South Bronx Plaza
DNAinfo, January 22nd

The Roberto Clemente Plaza should arrive in The Hub by the end of this year, and the economic development group SoBRO has started trying to find the person who will design the public art in the structure that honors the ballplayer's legacy. Clemente...Read more

MLB should retire Roberto Clemente's number
ESPN (blog), January 22nd

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico -- The rows of plantings sway in the prevailing wind here, not far from where Roberto Clemente was born and raised by his parents, and helped his father harvest in the fields. Clemente's spirit hovers over the island here, and...Read more

Roberto Clemente once asked a mirror how long the Pirates' win streak would be
MLB.com, January 20th

Obviously, Roberto Clemente wanted to know if they were going to make it to 12. That's why, amid a rain delay during June 1's game against the Phillies, he asked the magic mirror in the Pirates' dressing room. To make sure he was still the fairest of...Read more

A baseball tribute to Roberto Clemente
Dubuque Telegraph Herald, January 17th

Members of Roberto Clemente's family, including Luis Clemente (second from right), acknowledge fans in Pittsburgh after a 2012 ceremony honoring the 40th anniversary of Roberto Clemente's 3,000th hit. The family has also expressed its appreciation for ...Read more

Teen Dies in Double Shooting Near Roberto Clemente Elementary, Police Say
DNAinfo, January 13th

EAST NEW YORK — One teen was killed and another wounded in a shooting outside Roberto Clemente public elementary school Wednesday afternoon, police said. The two young men, 18 and 17, were shot at the corner of Pennsylvania and Livonia ...Read more