It has been 45 years to this date that our hero, Roberto Clemente, passed away in a tragic plane accident off his home shores off of Puerto Rico on New Year’s Eve Day in 1972.
We will have our own personal reflections and thoughts on this day. Personally, I was only 2 when this tragedy occurred, yet I grew up a passionate baseball fan that did not remember Clemente at all. But, I not only enjoy baseball as a fan, but I am involved in the business side of the sport. I have learned some fundamental truths about the game and sports in general;
Always respect the fans and their passion for your product and brand
Local ownership matters
Be involved in your community and champion local business, charity and service organizations as the greater good benefits from a professional sports team
Sign players with strong characters who want to help their community.
I can’t think of a better reflection of this philosophy than Roberto Clemente.
I am so fortunate to work with a former MLB player who not only met Roberto, but played against him as a San Francisco Giant. Hal Lanier, our manager at the Ottawa Champions, has a great story of receiving hitting tips and 2 baseball bats from Clemente that prompted Lanier’s longest career hit streak in 1970. There is something truly poetic about Roberto who was taken long before his time.
A new card for any PC collection is an exciting moment for a hobbyist, especially when it is a Roberto Clemente 1964 !
While this card is ungraded and I can’t begin to estimate (intelligently) the condition, I will place it around a “4”, but it is an amazing contribution to my growing collection that includes 1957, 1959 and 90 more unique cards.
This is a card that refers to Clemente as “Bob” that has generated a fair amount of controversy among historians and collectors – we assume that is a space consideration by Topps who used that nickname throughout the 1960’s. Any reader views on this ?
It’s also cool to see the back of the card mention the Montreal Royals who Clemente played for in 1954 and played against the local Ottawa Athletics at Lansdowne Park ! We have blogged about that gem of history before.
We can call the 1964 Clemente season “typical”. He led MLB in hits and batting average, elected to the All Star team and won a gold glove.
It is well documented within the baseball card community that an essential piece of any Roberto Clemente collection is the 1955 rookie Topps card. Last year, I made a commitment to enhancing my Clemente collection and I am now a proud owner of a ’55 Topps as a graded PSA and encased for preservation. In addition, I have started a set registry collection of my Clemente PSA graded cards – so far, I have 21% collected of the basic Topps collection with a weight of 4.7 (meaning the average grade of the 4 cards I have so far – ’55, ’57 (6), ’58 (6) and ’61 (7)).
The ’55 card is a “2 – Good” grade and a key addition to the growing collection – owning it provides an emotional sense that my overall collection is more legitimate and of course, has much more value. There’s also the knowledge this card was first manufactured a year after Clemente played in Montreal (as referenced on the back of the card) as a minor leaguer in the Dodger system before joining the Pirates thanks to the innovation of Branch Rickey. Why is that important ? Clemente visited Ottawa and played our Athletics in ’54 !
More posts on my Clemente collection coming soon….
It has been a long time since I have posted – my apologies. The summer of 2016 was a fantastic one for our Ottawa Champions as we continued our momentum to establishing a more permanent standing for professional baseball in our community and won the Championship in the process !
The winter has arrived as snow falls outside my window and it’s time to get back into celebrating the life and career of Roberto Clemente, my hero.
I hope you will join me this winter for the journey.
On Saturday May 28th, I did an interview with Dante Decaria, a broadcaster with the Ottawa Champions Baseball Club, on CKDJ 107.9. We touched on many great topics including my passion for the game of baseball, collecting baseball cards – a hobby I have enjoyed for 35 years now and of course, the legacy of Roberto Clemente.
As written about previously on this blog, I revealed that after spending time this winter researching about the career and legend of Clemente, I discovered that yes, Roberto Clemente has been to Ottawa, Ontario and played professional baseball as a member of the Montreal Royals Triple A team, affiliated with the Brooklyn Dodgers. It has been well documented by baseball and American historians that the 19 yr old Clemente was “hidden” by the Dodgers to avoid clubs finding his talent. They clearly had underestimated Branch Rickey, arguably the greatest innovator in baseball history who paved the way for Jackie Robinson’s iconic baseball career, signed Clemente out of Brooklyn to play for the Pirates and the rest is history.
We have documented evidence that in 1954, the Montreal Royals travelled to Ottawa to play the Athletics at Lansdowne Park 4 times (May 11-13, June 15/16,July 2/3 and 13-15th) and in those games, Clemente played 5 times. This link shows the Sporting News edition of July 14, 1954 with the boxscores of two games; Friday July 2nd and Saturday July 3rd…ClementeInOttawa
We will have more to say on this as we are continuing our research to uncover more information on this exciting development of our city and baseball history – but for now, consider this….Clemente is only the second Hall of Famer to play in a professional baseball game in Canada’s Capital. The other is Frank Thomas during the Ottawa Lynx era while on rehab with the Charlotte Knights.
It’s always fun to establish historical linkages where they may not yet exist. Given our location in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada and our passion for the Clemente legacy, we are asking if Roberto Clemente visited Ottawa, Ontario to play a game or games against the Ottawa Athletics in the 1954 season ?
We are looking into this exciting possibility.
Clemente played for the Montreal Royals in the International League under the Brooklyn Dodgers farm system. At that time, the Dodgers were well aware of the immense talent they had, so they attempted to hide Clemente who eventually was scouted and signed by Branch Rickey to play for the Pirates.
Ottawa also had a team in the International League who played at Lansdowne Park and we are sourcing archives and history to determine if Clemente did indeed visit Canada’s Capital.
Thank you for visiting the Roberto Clemente Card Project website ! This is a tribute to a legend – a man, husband, father, baseball player and philanthropist who left an indelible mark on not only baseball history, but defined passion for an entire generation.
This website celebrates Clemente’s larger than life persona with content on my own baseball card and memorabilia collection that I am in the process of building. In addition, I will post on “Arriba” as more content emerges. Even after his tragic death, 43 years ago, Clemente remains a contemporary focus for his contributions and personality.
I hope you enjoy your visit – please follow the social media platforms we’re on and learn more about Hall of Fame icon, Roberto Clemente.