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    

1966 Topps Near Complete Set W/ Clemente & Koufax (483/598) (ex/mt To Near Mint)1956 Topps #33 Roberto Clemente Gray Back Psa 8 Stunner!!!!!Roberto Clemente 1955 Topps #164 - Hi # - Rc - Pirates - Nrmint-mint! Stunning!1956 Topps #33 Roberto Clemente Gray Back Pirates Psa 6 Ex-mt *centered* *nice*1971 Roberto Clemente Pirates Milk Duds Baseball Complete Mint Box Unfolded Nice1956 Topps #33 Roberto Clemente White Back Psa 71963 Topps Roberto Clemente Psa 7 Card #5401956 Topps #33 Roberto Clemente White Back Psa 71964 Topps Stand-up Roberto Clemente Pirates Psa 81971 Topps Super #37 Roberto Clemente Hof Pittsburgh Pirates Psa 8 Nm-mt1965 Topps #160 Bob(roberto) Clemente Pirates Psa 8Roberto Clemente 2014 Topps Five Star Legends Bat #13/252012 Topps Update Award Winners Gold Rings #rc Roberto Clemente1955 Topps #164 Roberto Clemente Psa 6 Rc Pirates Hof Centered High End Beauty 1972 Topps #309 Roberto Clemente Pirates Hof Psa 9 Mint1959 Topps Baseball Roberto Clemente Card #478 Graded Psa 6.5 Ex-mt+ Clean!1964 Topps Giants Lot Of 59 W Two Mantle Clemente Mays Koufax Aaron Short Prints2014 Topps Five Star Ssp #fsdl-cr Dual Relic Jackie Robinson & Roberto Clemente1972 Topps #309 Roberto Clemente Hof Pirates Psa 8 Nm-mtRoberto Clemente Topps 1972 #309 Psa 8 Free Shipping1973 Topps #50 Roberto Clemente Card Psa 8.5 Nm/mt+1956 Topps #33 Roberto Clemente Sgc 2 G Pittsburgh Pirates Vintage Baseball Card1963 Topps #540 Bob Clemente Hof Pittsburgh Pirates Psa 7 Nm2005 Ud Sweet Spot Classic Roberto Clemente Materials Gu Jersey Pants - Hof1966 Topps #300 Bob(roberto) Clemente Psa 71970 Topps #350 Roberto Clemente Pirates Psa 7 *5021481965 Topps Roberto (bob) Clemente Card #160 Graded Psa 8 Nm-mt Mint Condition1963 Fleer #56 Roberto Clemente Pirates Psa 8+++1960 Topps Pittsburgh Pirates Team Set Of 33 W/ Roberto Clemente Psa 4.5Roberto Clemente- 1 Oz .999 Fine Silver, Limited Edition Mlb Proof #y48171966 Topps Baseball Card #300 Roberto Clemente Exmt+1971 Topps Baseball Complete 153 Coin Set Clemente Aaron Jackson Mays Rose Maz1962 Topps #10 Bob Clemente Hof Pittsburgh Pirates Psa 7 Nm1959 Topps #478 Roberto Clemente (hall Of Famer) $175 Vintage Baseball Card!1962 Topps #10 Roberto Clemente (hall Of Famer!) $200 Vintage Baseball Card!1972 Topps #310 Roberto Clemente In Action Hof Pirates Psa 8 Nm-mtPittsburgh Pirates Team Signed Vintage Baseball Reberto Clemente 1970 No Reserve1968 Topps All Star Sticker Panel 9 Orlando Cepeda Roberto Clemente Willie MaysVintage Lot Of Topps Baseball Cards (willie Mays, Ernie Banks, Bob Clemente)1969 Topps - Deckle Edge - Complete Set - Pete Rose, Willie Mays, Clemente...1972 Topps In Action #310 Roberto Clemente Hof Pirates Psa 8 Nm-mt1971 Topps Baseball Complete 153 Coin Set Clemente Aaron Jackson Mays Rose Maz A1966 Bazooka #26 Roberto Clemente Pirates Psa 5 *5021111965 Topps #160 Bob Clemente Hof Pittsburgh Pirates Psa 6 Ex-mt1960 Topps Bob Clemente Psa 6 Ex-mt #326 Hall Of Fame1962 Topps 10 Roberto Clemente Psa 5Topps 1959 #478 €Topps 1960 #326 €1961 Topps #388 Bob Clemente Hof Pittsburgh Pirates Psa 7 Nm1965 Topps Baseball #160 Bob Clemente Pittsburgh Pirates1960's Topps Roberto Clemente Baseball Card Lot1963 Fleer #56 Roberto Clemente (hall Of Famer!) $200 Vintage Baseball Card!2001 Sp Legendary Cuts Roberto Clemente Pittsburgh Pirates Jersey 1972 Topps Roberto Bob Clemente #309 Psa 8 Pirates Sweet Card1965 Topps #2 N.l. Batting Leaders Psa 7 Nm W / Clemente Aaron1965 Topps #160 Roberto Clemente (hall Of Famer!) $200 Vintage Baseball Card!1965 Topps #160 Roberto Clemente Hof Pittsburgh Pirates Centered Great Corners!1965 Topps #160 Bob Clemente Hof Pittsburgh Pirates Psa 8 Nm-mt1973 Topps #50 Roberto Clemente Hof Pittsburgh Pirates Psa 6.5 Ex-mt+1968 Topps #150 Bob Clemente Card! Bv $80! Ex+! Pirates!

Recent News: Roberto Clemente Memorabilia

Source: Google News

A three rivers return: Capitals' Orpik, Niskanen, Reirden go back to Pittsburgh
Washington Post, December 26th

He'll see the Roberto Clemente Bridge, the iconic backdrop for PNC Park, where the Pirates play, and Heinz Field, the home stadium for the Steelers. The downtown skyline will be so familiar. The next step, however, will be entirely new. Rather than...Read more

Local Police Need Public Support To Complete Memorial To Rocco And Other K9s
CBS Local, December 26th

Wagner, known for the PNC Park statues of Roberto Clemente and Willie Stargell, worked with the Fraternal Order of Police's Law Enforcement Memorial Committee to create a statue to honor all K9s. Rocco inspired this, but everyone decided it was for all...Read more

Dodgers Finalize Deal For Rollins
Culver City Observer, December 26th

Rollins was also named co-winner of the 2014 Roberto Clemente Award, along with Paul Konerko, for his positive contributions to the game of baseball, both on and off the field. Rollins was originally selected by Philadelphia in the second round of the...Read more

Here's a simple test
Henry Herald, December 25th

##Roberto Clemente, the great baseball star for the Pittsburg Pirates, was killed in a plane crash while involved in a moment of loving service. He put it this way: “If you have the opportunity to help others and don't do it, you are wasting your time...Read more

Islip officials frustrated with pace of Clemente Park cleanup approval by state
Newsday, December 16th

Town of Islip officials yesterday questioned what they called a lack of progress in getting state Department of Environmental Conservation approval for plans to clean up the estimated 50,000 tons of contaminated construction debris from Roberto...Read more

The search for why illegal dumping was allowed in Roberto Clemente Park
Newsday, December 8th

Two Islip Town parks department officials, over a period of eight months beginning in August 2013, facilitated and later tried to cover up illegal dumping in Roberto Clemente Park in Brentwood. These charges were aired in a Central Islip courtroom...Read more

6 Charged, Including 2 Former Islip Town Officials, In Illegal-Dumping Probe ...
CBS Local, December 8th

Prosecutors began investigating last spring after investigators discovered about 50,000 tons of debris laced with asbestos, pesticides and other material at Islip-owned Roberto Clemente Park in Brentwood. Illegal dumping was later found at a housing ...Read more

Roberto Clemente: The day the game died
Los Angeles Post-Examiner, December 8th

Photo above: Roberto Clemente in Game 6 of the 1971 World Series against the Baltimore Orioles. (YouTube). Don McLean's “American Pie” is a musical classic that tells the tale of the day music died when singer Buddy Holly was killed in a plane crash...Read more