Saturday, March 27, 2010

Cards from the Old Man: Part 11 Roberto Clemente

This is the eleventh in a series of posts about cards I received from the old collector in our town who had library catalogs full of cards from the 1950's-1970's. You can see those original posts here and here if you missed them.

Here we have another legendary player that meant nothing to me as a 12 year old. All I knew was he once played for the team that introduced me to the World Series, the 1979 Pirates, and the "Old Man" said he died in a plane crash. That intrigued my pre-teen warped mind. That and we have the same birthday, August 18th.

The one and only Roberto Clemente. This is the final 1972 card in this series and I think it's fitting that it is a Clemente card. Clemente had an amazing career. He played 18 seasons for the Pittsburgh Pirates. In 2,433 games he had 3,000 hits, scored 1,416 runs, hit 240 homeruns and drove in 1,305 while batting .317. This card is about 80-20 off centered to the right.

Clemente played in 14 All-Star Games and two World Series. The Pirates won both Series with Clemente, beating the Yankees in 7 games in the 1960 Series and beating the Orioles in 7 games in the 1971 Series. Clemente was the 1971 Series MVP.

On a personal level, Clemente won numerous awards. He won 12 Gold Gloves and was the N.L. MVP in 1966. He led the league in batting 4 times and was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1973.

On July 25, 1956, Clemente became the only player in MLB history to hit a walk off inside the park grand slam as the Pirates beat the Cubs 9-8.

He served in the United States Marine Corps reserve from 1958-1964.

Clemente was the first Hispanic to win a W0rld Series as a starter (1960), win an MVP (1966) and win a World Series MVP (1971). He was also the first Latin American in the Hall of Fame and remains the only current member of the Hall of Fame who did not have to wait the mandatory 5 years after retirement. You all know the reason for that.

On New Year's eve, 1972, Clemente was accompanying a flight of humanitarian aid to the people of Nicaragua after a devastating earthquake. The plane crashed into the sea almost immediately after taking off from Puerto Rico. Clemente's body was never recovered.

There are nicer cards of Roberto Clemente, but I don't have any other vintage Clemente so this one means a lot to me.


  1. This one of the greatest cards of all time, the pose/photo is so unique with the ball seeming to hang suspended in mid air. This pose was used on a 1991 Topps Carmelo Martinez and 2008 Topps Chrome Clete Thomas. I don't knoe if there are anymore

  2. Only fitting that this would be his last card. Great photo.