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    

1955 Topps #164 Roberto Clemente Pittsburgh Pirates Rc Rookie Hof Psa 2 2012 National Treasures Roberto Clemente Hof Patch 9/10Complete Set 1973 Topps Baseball Cards Sheets/binder #1-660 Clemente Ryan MaysRoberto Clemente Single Signed Baseball Auto Jsa Loa Pirates Hof Deceased 1972Roberto Clemente Autographed Signed Index Card Nm-mt 8 Psa/dna #83526871Vintage Pittsburgh Pirates 6 Team Card Lot Roberto Clemente 1959-701956 Topps #33 Roberto Clemente Psa 51956 Topps #33 Roberto Clemente Pittsburgh Pirates Hof Psa 6 Ex-mt Autographed Authentic Roberto Clemente Hand Signed With Pen Rare Baseball Glove 1955 Topps Complete Set Clemente Koufax Williams Snider Mays Aaron Affordable2015 Topps Museum Roberto Clemente Primary Pieces Legend Relics Gu 4x Bat #/251970's Original Photo Roberto Clemente Pittsburgh Pirates Batting1969 Topps Deckle Edge Complete Set Pete Rose Roberto Clemente Brooks Robinson1972 Topps #309 Roberto Clemente Hof Pirates Psa 9 Mint " Razor Sharp "1970's Original Photo Roberto Clemente Pittsburgh Pirates Portrait1972 Topps #309 Roberto Clemente Psa 8 Nm-mt Pittsburgh PiratesRoberto Clemente Single Signed Baseball Auto Jsa Loa Pirates Hof Deceased 19721962 Topps #10 Bob Clemente Psa 7 Nm2001 Ud Baseball Roberto Clemente Game Used Jersey Hof Memorabilia Pitts Pirates2014 Topps Museum Collection Roberto Clemente Jumbo Relic Bat Card 44/501962 Topps Roberto Clemente Pittsburgh Pirates #10 Baseball CardRoberto Clemente 34mm Gilt Medal 1961 Topps #388 Bob Roberto Clemente - Pirates1971 Topps #630 Roberto Clemente Hof Pittsburgh Pirates Psa 8 Nm-mtLoaded 257low/high Grade/mantle/jeter/yaz Rc/1952 Yogi Berra Berk Ross/clementeRoberto Clemente 2015 Panini Cooperstown Aariba Names Of The Game PiratesTopps 1960 #326 – Bob ‘roberto’ Clemente!! Centered!! Book Value = $200!! (mk)2014 Topps Tribute Tribute To The Throne Relics #thronerc Roberto Clemente 06/991969 Topps #50-roberto Clemente-pirates!!hof!!ex/mt!!wow!!Roberto Clemente - Black - Tribute Relic #tr-rcl - #22/50 - 2015 Topps Tribute1971 Topps #630 Roberto Clemente $150 Beckett1962 Topps #10 Bob Clemente Psa 61998 Topps Roberto Clemente Anniversary Reprint Baseball Card Lot (14)1962 Topps #10 Bob Clemente Psa 7 Nrmt~~high End Clemente!2012 Roberto Clemente Topps Tribute Game Used 21/491972 Topps Roberto Clemente #309 Vg Excellent Pirates Check Pictures1961 Post Cereal #132 Roberto Clemente Pirates Sgc 50 *5474042004 Donruss Hall Of Fame Heroes Roberto Clemente #1/5 Ssp Bat Relic First One!Vintage 1960 Topps Baseball Card #326 Roberto Clemente Pirates1961 Topps #41 Nl Batting Leaders W/ Mays Clemente Psa 8 Nm-mt1963 Topps Bob Clemente High #540 Ex+ Pirates Hofer Set Break1962 Topps #10 Bob Roberto Clemente - Pirates1966 Topps Set Break #300 Roberto Clemente Ex-exmint I13954Roberto Clemente Etched In Cooperstown Ruby 8/15 2015 Cooperstown1972 Topps #310 Roberto Clemente In Action Pittsburgh Pirates Hof Psa 7 Nm1965 Topps Transfers Roberto Clemente Psa 2 Good-rare Card!!!1959 Topps No. 478 - Roberto "bob" Clemente Hof - Pittsburgh Pirates - G/vg1969 Topps Set Break # 50 R.clemente Nr-mint K11767 Cj122001 Ud Baseball Roberto Clemente #d All-star Bat Memorabilia Pitts Pirates1972 Topps #309 Roberto Clemente - Pirates15 Card Lot Of 1970 Topps Baseball/clemente,frank Robinson, Mets Team Card#12008 Sp Legendary Cuts Roberto Clemente & Vladimir Guerrero Patch2015 Topps Roberto Clemente Cardboard Icons 5x7 Complete Set1956 Topps #33 Roberto Clemente Pirates 2nd Year Sgc 60 Well CenteredPittsburgh Pirates #21 Roberto Clemente W2patch Triple Stitched Jersey 2xl New!Roberto Clemente 2015 Panini Cooperstown Red Parallel 26/352015 Panini Cooperstown Roberto Clemente & Honus Wagner Ruby Card #ed 10/152015 Panini Cooperstown Roberto Clemente Blue Parallel #25/25 Pirates1970 Topps #350 Roberto Clemente - PiratesRoberto Clemente 2014 Panini 75th Anniversary Die-cut Crusade #21/25 Jersey #

Recent News: Roberto Clemente Memorabilia

Source: Google News

New Haven Music in the Parks summer concert series continues Wednesday
New Haven Register, July 27th

12: Orquesta Espada, with DJ SW1, at Roberto Clemente Field. Orquesta Espada is considered by many to be the top salsa/jazz band to come out of Connecticut. The 11-member orchestra uses a wide range of original salsa and Brazilian rhythms to create a ...Read more

Roberto Clemente World Series tournament comes to Waterbury
WFSB, July 24th

This weekend in Waterbury, the shouts of play ball will bring a boost to the Brass City and the local economy. Waterbury is the host the Roberto Clemente World Series, and teams of eight-year-olds, their coaches and families are in the city for the...Read more

EXTRA INNINGS Roberto Clemente wins Jr. League softball district and section ...
Hudson Reporter, July 18th

The younger Sierra is also a talented pitcher and she has been able to lead the Roberto Clemente Junior Little League All-Stars (ages 13 and 14) to the District 7 and Section 2 championships and a berth in the New Jersey state tournament this week in ...Read more

Family of slain Trumbull native: Chris Christie politicizing our son's death
CT Post, July 17th

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie addresses supporters at the Roberto Clemente Community Center during a campaign event, Thursday, July 16, 2015 in Camden, N.J. On a rare presidential campaign stop in his home state Thursday, New Jersey Gov...Read more

State again sends Allentown charter school money it shouldn't get
lehighvalleylive.com, July 17th

Roberto Clemente did stop requesting the repayments after the release of the 2013 audit, DePasquale reports. "Two and a half years ago auditors found similar issues of improper lease reimbursements in audits of Roberto Clemente and several other...Read more

Suffolk to probe Roberto Clemente contamination
News 12 Long Island, July 14th

Tests show that banned pesticides like dieldrin are in the groundwater under Roberto Clemente Park, but the source may not be from debris that was dumped at the site, according to the county. (July 14, 2015 5:53 PM) ...Read more

Roberto Clemente Park outreach center opens for residents concerned about ...
Newsday, July 5th

An outreach center for residents with questions or concerns about the cleanup of an estimated 50,000 tons of illegally dumped, contaminated debris at Roberto Clemente Park in Brentwood has been opened, Islip Town officials announced. Bilingual outreach ...Read more

Clementa / Clemente
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, June 29th

Pinckney was born July 31, 1973, just seven months after Roberto Clemente's death in a plane crash on New Year's Eve, 1972. When the Rev. Pinckney died while teaching a Bible class at Mother Emanuel, he was 41, just three years older than Roberto ...Read more