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
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Man sentenced to prison in sex abuse case reported by Cleveland parks employeePlain Dealer, December 11th
around and blame their victims," she said. Morrison, who worked at Roberto Clemente Park at West 38th and Seymour Avenue, told the judge he hopes the victim can learn to trust again and believe there are good people in the world. View/Post Comments ...Read more
Nutritional Products International Would Like To Congratulate Its Board Member ...Newsday, December 5th
Nutritional Products International (NPI) would like to congratulate its board member, Roberto Clemente Jr. on his appointment to the Board of Directors at National Hispanic Medical Association (NHMA), whose role is to develop educational activities and ...Read more
'DC-7: The Roberto Clemente Story'Back Stage, December 4th
Casting a play with music, "DC-7: The Roberto Clemente Story," as part of NightBlue Theatre Company's season, in which three of the most influential characters in Clemente's life meet at his funeral to share their memories. Coordinator states: "Matino ...Read more
Roberto Clemente Jr., son of famed baseball player, visits Allentown schoolsThe Express Times - LehighValleyLive.com, November 22nd
That changed today, when the 48-year-old former baseball player, broadcaster and author visited the Roberto Clemente Charter School and shared his stories and life experiences with its 325 students. "I'm telling you, I'm going to be back," Clemente said...Read more
Roberto Clemente's family holds book signing in humanitarian's honorYNN, November 16th
Fans of Roberto Clemente, one of the greatest baseball players in history, had a chance to meet his family Saturday. His widow Vera and son Ricky recently published a book on Clemente's life. They signed copies of it for the first time ever at Carthage...Read more
Family of late Baseball Hall of Fame player Roberto Clemente visits CantonNorth Country Now, November 15th
CANTON -- The family of Baseball Hall of Fame player Roberto Clemente visited SUNY Canton Wednesday. Clemente's widow, Vera, and their son, Roberto Clemente Jr., made the trip to the U.S. from Puerto Rico to visit Roberto Jr.'s son, Roberto Clemente ...Read more
Family of Roberto Clemente to sign book about star's legacyYNN, November 14th
A Major League Baseball MVP, 15 time all-star and had 3,000 hits. Roberto Clemente is one of the greatest players to ever step on the diamond. But it was what he did off the field that his family is most proud of, even if it did cost him his life...Read more
Clemente family coming to WatertownWatertownDailyTimes.com, November 13th
Since legendary baseball player Roberto Clemente died 41 years ago, his family has worked toward continuing his legacy as the game's greatest humanitarian. That effort has brought Clemente's widow, Vera, and their youngest son Ricky to the area for a ...Read more