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
Roberto Clemente, Sun City Saints memorabilia on display in PeoriaYourWestValley.com, March 6th
Also included are numerous player jackets from long-gone teams, a Roberto Clemente display with San Juan “farm team” items, women's softball in the Chicago area and the famous Sun City Saints. The show includes an extensive array of baseball ...Read more
Artists will repaint Clemente mural in Azalea ParkOrlando Sentinel, March 5th
Two New York artists are set to come to Orlando next week to repaint a mural of iconic baseball player Roberto Clemente at the Azalea Park Little League ball field. Earl Lugo, who in 2011 brought his friend Héctor "Nicer" Nazario to Central Florida to...Read more
Roberto Clemente charter school expansion delayedAllentown Morning Call, March 3rd
Representatives of the Roberto Clemente Charter School appeared before the city Zoning Hearing Board on Monday, asking to expand the secondary charter school at 136 S. Fourth St. to include a new 320-student elementary school. The new school would ...Read more
Orlando Weekly | Erin Sullivan Roberto Clemente MuralWMFE, February 27th
The 53 year old park is the oldest little league field in the state. When the mural was vandalized, Carlos Guzman, president of the city's Puerto Rican leadership council, demanded action and is still waiting for elected officials to respond to his...Read more
Azalea Park's defaced Roberto Clemente mural continues to inspire controversyOrlando Weekly, February 25th
Roberto Clemente, of the Pittsburgh Pirates, is a respected figure in the world of Major League Baseball, especially for Azalea Park's Puerto Rican community. So why would someone paint over his portrait on a Little League field mural? No one knows who ...Read more
Artist to paint bigger, better Roberto Clemente mural in Azalea Park after ...WFTV Orlando, February 24th
Residents are demanding change at an Orange County park after an iconic mural of Pittsburgh Pirates legend Roberto Clemente was vandalized. Channel 9 reported earlier this month that vandals targeted the mural, which was painted by a famed New York ...Read more
Roberto Clemente mural painted over in Azalea ParkOrlando Sentinel, February 12th
A mural honoring Puerto Rican baseball icon Roberto Clemente has been painted over, destroying what was a source of pride for Little Leaguers and parents at a rebounding Azalea Park Elementary School ball field. Earl Lugo has coached there and wanted ...Read more
Mural of Pittsburgh Pirates great Roberto Clemente defaced in Azalea ParkWFTV Orlando, February 12th
Authorities are looking for the vandals who targeted a mural of Roberto Clemente on the side of a ballpark facility in Azalea Park. Overnight, someone painted over the mural, which showed Clemente on one knee in his Pittsburgh Pirates uniform...Read more