Friday, October 28, 2011

#160 Roberto Clemente

#160 Roberto Clemente
...No, I will not be referring to him as "Bob", you xenophobic Topps person, you. Much to my surprise, this was one of two cards that arrived unannounced last weekend from all-around swell guy Randy. Only a dirty dozen left to collect!

Fun facts about Roberto Clemente:

-Roberto was born in Carolina, Puerto Rico. At age 19, he signed with the Dodgers during the 1954 season.

-The Pirates claimed Clemente in the minor league draft and he made their big league roster in 1955. He hit just .255 in 124 games, but finished second on the team with 23 doubles and 11 triples, and improved his average to .311 in his sophomore season.

-Roberto was famous for his extremely powerful throws from right field. He led the National League in outfield assists five times, including a high total of 27 in 1961. For his career, his 266 assists rank 17th all-time. He also captured 12 straight Gold Glove Awards.
-Clemente was an All-Star in 12 different seasons as well, beginning in 1960. The following year he won the first of his four batting titles with a .351 average that was bolstered by his ability to reach out and hit pitches out of the strike zone.

-Roberto was named National League MVP in 1966, when he batted .317 and reached career highs of 29 home runs, 119 RBI, and 105 runs scored.

-Though he hit well in his first World Series (.310 AVG, 3 RBI in 1960), the star outfielder was nothing less than a force of nature in the 1971 Fall Classic. He batted .414 (12-for-29) and slugged .759 to help the Pirates outlast the Orioles in 7 games. He captured Series MVP honors, and homered in each of the last two games.

-Despite his increasing stature in the United States, Clemente returned to his homeland nearly every winter during his career to play (and later manage) in the winter league. He felt he owed it to the Puerto Ricans, who otherwise would not have had an opportunity to see him play.

-In December 1972, he organized a humanitarian effort to assist the people of Managua, Nicaragua, who were victims of a devastating earthquake shortly before Christmas. On New Year's Eve, a cargo plane carrying Clemente and four other men experienced technical problems and crashed in the Atlantic Ocean, killing everyone aboard. Roberto was 38 years old.

-His final career totals included a .317 average, 440 doubles, 240 home runs, 1,305 RBI, and exactly 3,000 hits in 18 seasons.

-An exception to the customary five-year waiting period was made, and Clemente posthumously became the first Latin American player inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1973. The Pirates retired his #21 that same year, and Major League Baseball repurposed a recently-created honor as the Roberto Clemente Award. It is given annually to a player who stands out both on the field and in the community. The most recent winner was DH David Ortiz of the Red Sox; the full list is viewable here.
#160 Roberto Clemente (back)

1 comment:

  1. I saw a program recently that showed some of his early personalized bats had the name "Momen Clemente" on them. This was a nickname of his from his saying the word "moment" to reporters and others.