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.

About our sources | Got something to add?

▼ Expand to read the full article ▼

Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)

Old Cardboard

Old Cardboard

Check out this well-organized collection of 500 sets of baseball cards, each over 50 years old. Browsable by type a… [read review or visit site]

The Baseball Card Blog

The Baseball Card Blog

Ben Henry's lively vintage baseball card blog, started in January 2006, offers hundreds of great posts on (and pict… [read review or visit site]

Cardboard Junkie

Cardboard Junkie

Dave Campbell's in-depth blog on old baseball (and some football) cards lives up to it's motto: 'do cards, not drug… [read review or visit site]

Baseball Cards 1887-1914

Baseball Cards 1887-1914

Roll up your socks for this Library of Congress collection showcasing hundreds of players on colorful early basebal… [read review or visit site]

Baseball Hall of Fame

Baseball Hall of Fame

A home run for baseball collectors, this site features special online exhibits, ranging from a baseball-uniforms da… [read review or visit site]



Other Great Reference Sites

Most watched eBay auctions    

Roberto Clemente 1955 Topps #164 - Rc - Hi # - Pirates - No Creases! Phenomenal!Roberto Clemente 1956 Topps #33 - Pittsburgh Pirates - Beautiful!!! Sharp!!!1971 Topps Baseball Near Complete Set Of (751/752) Missing Only #630 Clemente1964 Topps Stand-up Roberto Clemente Pittsburgh Pirates Hof Psa 8 Nm-mtRoberto Clemente Signed Album Page From Rookie Year In 1955 Autographed Auto Rc1956 Topps #33 Roberto Clemente Pittsburgh Pirates Graded Psa 62014 National Treasures Roberto Clemente 1/1 3 Colored Patch Maz Bat Teammates 2015 Topps Tribute Roberto Clemente Bat Card # 2 / 25 Made Pittsburgh Pirates NrMcfarlane Baseball Roberto Clemente Cooperstown Collection *3* Pirates *sealed*(4) 1966 Topps Megastars Cards Lot: Clemente, Koufax, Willie Mays, Pete Rose Raw1955 Topps Roberto Clemente Pittsburgh Pirates #164 Baseball Card Psa 51957 Topps Clemente # 76 Banks #55 Robinson #35 Baseball Card Psa Sgc Bvg All 31956 Topps Roberto Clemente #33 Psa Vg-ex 41969 Topps #50 Bob Roberto Clemente Pittsburgh Pirates Hof Psa 7 Nm ∎ 1969 Topps Baseball Card Roberto Clemente #50 **mint Card**Psa 2 Roberto Clemente 1958 Topps #52 (good) Beautiful Sharp Looking Card Mvp1968 Topps #150 Roberto Bob Clemente Pittsburgh Pirates Hof1969 Topps #50 Bob (roberto) Clemente Pirates Psa 7#ltd Toy Stamp & 1970 Topps Super Large Baseball Cards W Roberto Clemente Lot 11Manager's Dream: Clemente, Oliva & Cardenas 1968 Topps Baseball Card #4801958 Topps Roberto Clemente Baseball Card Pirates # 521972 O-pee-chee Baseball 2nd Series Unopened Wax Pack Psa 9 Mint -clemente/aaron1970 Pittsburgh Pirate Photos: Series B; Roberto Clemente,ellis+++++++10ea, MintRoberto Bob Clemente 1959 59 Topps #478 Sgc 80 Ex/nm 6 Pirates1956 Topps Sgc/hofer Lot W/ #33 Roberto Clemente - #15 Ernie Banks1960 Topps #326 Bob Roberto Clemente - Great Condition Wow ~ Free ShippingMcfarlane Baseball Roberto Clemente Cooperstown Collection Pirates Nib Series 31966 Topps Low Grade Hof Lot Of 11 Cards - Ford, Mays, Koufax, Banks, Clemente,Vintage 1955 Topps Baseball Card Set Clemente Koufax Mays Aaron + Missing 1 Card1961 Topps Break 388 Bob Clemente Pirates Nm+1964 Topps Giants #11 Bob Roberto Clemente Pittsburgh Pirates Hof Psa 8 Nm-mt1971 Kellogg's #5 Roberto Clemente Psa Ex-mt 6#ltd Toy Stamp & 1971 Topps Super Large Baseball Cards W Roberto Clemente Lot 51971 Topps Roberto Clemente Pittsburgh Pirates #630 Baseball Card ..psa-4.52012 Topps Roberto Clemente Commemorative World Series Ring"1971"!!!!!pirates!!!1968 Topps Manager's Dream #480 - Tony Oliva, Chico Cardenas, Roberto Clemente1960 Topps Roberto Clemente Nm/mt #3261966 Topps Star 12 Card Lot High Book Value, Koufax, Clemente, Uecker, Ford, Etc1968 Topps Managers Dream Roberto Clemente #480 Sgc 92 Nm/mt+ 8.5 Tony Oliva1975 Topps Baseball Lot- Yount Brett Clemente Yaz Ryan Winfield Bench+++1962 Topps Set Break # 10 Roberto Clemente Nr-mint H105151969 Topps #50 Roberto Clemente Pittsburgh Pirates Hof Bvg 8 Nm-mt 1957 Topps Roberto Clemente Pittsburgh Pirates #76 Baseball Card2001 Ud Sp Legendary Cuts Legendary Uniform Jersey Roberto Clemente1965 Topps #160 Roberto (bob) Clemente - Amazing Condition Wow ~ Free Shipping!"bob Clemente" Baseball Bucks "pittsburgh Pirates" Forbes Field1964 Topps Coins Lot Of 2 Different Roberto Clemente Cards Inc No.s 55 And 150 1963 Topps #540 Roberto Clemente Psa 7 Hi# Set BreakHank Aaron & Roberto Clemente Home Runs 4-22 1960 Braves At Pirates Ticket Stub2015 Topps Tribute Roberto Clemente Tribute Relic Card #d41/501958 Topps Roberto Clemente # 52 1962 Topps Stamps Panel Set Break Earl Battey Roberto Clemente Hof 386851957 Topps #76 Bob (roberto) Clemente Card- Great Condition Wow ~ Free Shipping!1964 Topps Bvg 5 Ex #440 Roberto Clemente Hof 113821966 Topps #300 Bob Roberto Clemente Pittsburgh Pirates Hof Ex-mt Condition1965 Opc Roberto Clemente #160 Very Good Condition Bv$300 !!!1965 Topps....#160 Roberto Clemente....pirates....hof...real Nice !!...$$$$$Psa 2 Roberto Clemente 1966 Topps #300 (good) Beautiful Sharp Looking Card Mvp2014 Topps Update Framed Gold Label Roberto Clemente /99Roberto Clemente Pittsburgh Pirates Tsn All Star 1968 Topps Baseball Card #374

Recent News: Roberto Clemente Memorabilia

Source: Google News

Time for baseball to properly honor Clemente
Observer-Reporter, March 28th

This should be the last season in which any Major League player wears Roberto Clemente's number. That's right, No. 21 should belong to Clemente the way No. 42 belongs to the great Jackie Robinson. His number was retired in April of 1997, on the 50th ...Read more

Roberto Clemente Bridge closes for construction of bike lanes
Tribune-Review, March 26th

Workers and Pittsburgh Police close down the Roberto Clemente Bridge early Tuesday, March 24, 2015. The bridge will be closed for about two weeks for a deck repair and installation of protected bike lanes...Read more

Islip narrows Roberto Clemente Park cleanup bids down to 6
Newsday, March 26th

The Town of Islip received dozens of inquiries on its public bid to clean up an estimated 50,000 tons of contaminated debris illegally dumped at a Brentwood park and now has six official bids -- ranging from $3 million to $5.68 million -- to choose from...Read more

Clemente Bridge closed for repairs, bike lane installation
WPXI Pittsburgh, March 24th

Sponsored Links. PITTSBURGH —. Downtown commuters will have to find their way around the Roberto Clemente Bridge for the next few weeks as it undergoes repairs and bike lane installation...Read more

Roberto Clemente Bridge to close next week
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, March 20th

The Roberto Clemente Bridge, linking Downtown at the North Shore at PNC Park, will close to vehicular traffic next week for deck and drainage repairs and installation of bike lanes. The bridge, also known as the Sixth Street Bridge, will close at 9 a.m...Read more

Suffolk begins drilling test wells in Roberto Clemente Park
Newsday, March 10th

Suffolk County began drilling the first of nine monitoring wells in Roberto Clemente Park in Brentwood Tuesday, March 10, 2015, to determine whether the groundwater under the park has been affected by the contaminated fill that was dumped in the Islip ...Read more

DPS School of the Week: Roberto Clemente Academy
Michronicleonline, March 4th

The freezing winter air and a chest cold did not stop Principal Melissa Villarreal from standing at her post, holding open the front door of Roberto Clemente Academy on a recent morning, greeting every student and parent who walked past her. She...Read more

A Look Back: Roberto Clemente
SportsBlog.com (blog), February 28th

This week's edition of “A Look Back” will be featuring one of the greatest Pittsburgh Pirates to ever play in the black and gold, Roberto Clemente. Clemente was born in San Anton, Carolina, Puerto Rico, and was the youngest of 7 children. He was signed...Read more