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

Three Sisters Bridges to remain 'Aztec Gold'
WTAE Pittsburgh, July 3rd

PITTSBURGH —Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald and Pittsburgh Mayor William Peduto announced today that the “Three Sisters Bridges” – Roberto Clemente (Sixth Street), Andy Warhol (Seventh Street) and Rachel Carson (Ninth Street) – will ...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

Yankees trounce Tigers as A-Rod passes Roberto Clemente on all-time hit list
Yahoo Sports (blog), June 21st

A-Rod homered in the third inning of New York's 14-3 pasting of Detroit on Saturday to passing Roberto Clemente on the all-time hit list with 3,001, then added a single in the fifth. He finished the game 2-for-3 with five RBIs and a walk and continues...Read more

Are 'Three Sisters' due for new hue?
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, June 19th

Built in the 1920s, the self-anchored suspension bridges -- Roberto Clemente (Sixth Street), Andy Warhol (Seventh Street) and Rachel Carson (Ninth Street) – are rare in their design and have become symbolic of the city. Their signature image has been ...Read more

Clemente, the Double Outsider
New York Times, June 19th

Today there is an abundance of Latinos in Major League Baseball, but not when Roberto Clemente took right field for the Pittsburgh Pirates 60 years ago this spring. Clemente's ordeal as a Puerto Rican breaking into what was then a very white preserve ...Read more

Cleanup of Roberto Clemente Park to begin in Brentwood
Newsday, June 14th

Excavation is expected to begin Monday at Roberto Clemente Park in Brentwood of some of the estimated 50,000 tons of contaminated debris illegally dumped there. Preparations began June 1 with heavy machinery brought to the park as well as safety ...Read more

Legendary Looking to Bring Roberto Clemente Biopic To Big Screen, June 8th

roberto clemente *The life of Roberto Clemente is headed to the big screen as Legendary Pictures develops a film on the legendary baseball player. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the company has entered into an agreement with Clemente's family for ...Read more

Making a good Roberto Clemente movie won't be easy, June 4th

Before the release of the film '42', the press reported on how many African-American athletes didn't really know who Jackie Robinson was and what he meant to history. That's not the case with Roberto Clemente and Latino ballplayers. Roberto Clemente is ...Read more