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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Surgery brings Jim Barr's pitching arm back in the gameSacramento Bee (blog), May 22nd
Jim Barr had a rubber arm, and it's reborn. The Granite Bay High School assistant baseball coach helped USC win national championships in 1968 and 1970 before pitching 12 major-league seasons – 10 with the Giants. In 1972, Barr struck out Pittsburgh ...Read more
Paul White: For baseball lifer, game goes onUSA TODAY, May 22nd
I can claim that, as a kid, I saw a veteran Roberto Clemente and a young Rusty Staub spend an afternoon at Pittsburgh's Forbes Field trying to outdo each other with ridiculous laser throws from the outfield. The details are muddy, I'll admit, but try...Read more
A 6-Pack of Questions With Former Boston Red Sox Nutritionist, Tara MardiganBostInno, May 22nd
One of my favorite workouts is MMA fitness with Kevin Kearns of Burn with Kearns. He trains me outside on the basketball courts by Roberto Clemente field in the Fens with agility ladders, pads, gloves, bands, a Bosu and my very favorite, a mini trampoline...Read more
Touching all basesNJ.com, May 21st
Roberto Clemente RBI registration. The Roberto Clemente RBI program is holding registration at $25 per player Mondays-Fridays from 6-8 p.m, and Saturdays and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 2, at the Roberto Clemente Sports Complex, 384 8th St. in Jersey City...Read more
#TBT: When Babe Ruth hit right-handedESPN (blog), May 21st
"Look at [Hank] Aaron, who was very successful hitting off his front foot. Look at [Roberto] Clemente. Same thing." One thing to note, as Klapisch points out, is that Ruth wouldn't be swinging a 42-ounce bat against today's fireballers. My guess is...Read more
Roberto Clemente Charter School celebrates anniversaryWFMZ Allentown, May 20th
A local charter school celebrated its first year of operations with a special ceremony Wednesday. Local and community leaders were on hand at the Roberto Clemente Elementary Charter School in Allentown. A ribbon cutting ceremony was held to mark the ...Read more
Clemente rock stars now movie stars, tooGazette.Net: Maryland Community News Online, May 20th
There will be a movie premiere in Germantown on May 26 starring Roberto Clemente Middle School's own rock stars. “Best Day of My Life: The Rock in School Story,” a 48-minute documentary on the school's Rock Band Class will have its first public showing ...Read more
Tramo de la Buenaventura Blvd. en honor a Roberto ClementeEl Sentinel, May 11th
La designación como Roberto Clemente Memorial Highway será en la Buenaventura Boulevard, entre la E. Osceola Parkway y la C.R. 530/Simpson Road, en el condado de Osceola, según se lee en un documento del Senado de Florida. cComments...Read more