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

Ann Arbor schools sells former Roberto Clemente building for $1.1 million
MLive.com, April 22nd

Ann Arbor Public Schools has sold the former Roberto Clemente Student Development Center for $1.1 million. The Arab American Cultural Association made a formal offer to the district on April 7 after inquiring about the 10-acre property in February...Read more

Pittsburgh Pirates: Roberto Clemente's Major-League Debut Turns 60
City of Champions, April 19th

When Roberto Walker Clemente trotted out to right field on April 17, 1955, he was making his major league debut with the Pittsburgh Pirates. No one knew for sure what his future held, but perhaps no one could have predicted he would lose his life just...Read more

It's Time for MLB to Celebrate Roberto Clemente Day
Huffington Post, April 17th

MLB retired Robinson's 42 back in 1997 and it was a great move that continues to highlight the importance of a legend who made his presence felt on and off the field, but it's time for MLB to honor another legend: Pittsburgh Pirates great, Roberto...Read more

60th anniversary of Roberto Clemente's MLB debut
ESPN, April 16th

CHICAGO -- Derrick Rose had 23 points and seven assists in his first postseason game in three years, Jimmy Butler scored 25 points, and the Chicago Bulls opened the playoffs with a 103-91 victory over the Milwaukee Bucks on Saturday night. Rose was at ...Read more

Roberto Clemente bridge to reopen
WTAE Pittsburgh, April 11th

PITTSBURGH, Pa. —The Roberto Clemente Bridge will reopen to traffic at 8 a.m. Sunday, the Allegheny County Department of Public Works announced Saturday. Parking and security info for Pirates Home Opener on Monday. On Monday, April 13, the ...Read more

Roberto Clemente Middle School boys take science to the top
Gazette.Net: Maryland Community News Online, April 6th

Members of the Roberto Clemente Middle School Science Bowl team show off the trophy they received for winning the Maryland Regional Science Bowl on March 21. The team will compete in the national finals April 30 to May 4 in Washington, D.C...Read more

$1 million secured for Roberto Clemente Park cleanup
Newsday, April 1st

At a news conference at Roberto Clemente Park in Brentwood on April 1, 2015, Sen. Tom Croci announced that he was able to help secure $1 million in this year's state budget to help clean up contaminated debris that was dumped illegally at the park...Read more

Roberto Clemente MS students spend day “in” China
Gazette.Net: Maryland Community News Online, March 31st

Lauren Gower, 12, a sixth-grader at Roberto Clemente Middle School in Germantown thinks its cool to learn about new cultures. She, along with almost 460 other sixth-graders at Clemente spent Thursday participating in Passport Through China, an in...Read more