31 December 2013

remembering roberto clemente

it's been 41 years since roberto clemente died in an act of service on new year's eve 1972.  in 1973, the pirates honored their fallen teammate first by wearing strips of black material during spring training.  luke walker's 1974 topps card represents that memorial in my binder
once the season began, however, the pirates switched to a circular patch with clemente's number 21 inside.  here's ramon hernandez's 1974 topps card showing the patch
another hernandez card represents that memorial in my collection - his 1974 o-pee-chee card
which, by the way, has a curious back.
there's a fair amount of information missing there.

the clemente tribute showed up in a later set, as topps used old photos in future releases.  take richie hebner's 1976 topps card, for example
or even lou brock's 1976 topps card, featuring jackie hernandez in the background with the patch visible on his left sleeve
25 years after his death, the pirates wore another patch in clemente's honor.  this time, they wore it on their right sleeves, as seen on kevin young's 1998 topps card
here's a better look at the patch.
we almost get a full glimpse of it on francisco cordova's 1998 upper deck card
but jose guillen's 1998 donruss collections leaf card is probably the clearest example i have
i believe that the pirates wore these patches at home in lieu of the jackie robinson patch.  the white sox did something familiar, but i'll cover that in a future post.  the 1998 cards don't show up in my binder since they aren't the 'official' memorial patches.

to close out this post (and the year), here are a couple clemente cards released well after his death.

1987 donruss
and 2001 topps golden moments subset
he was a good one.

happy new year everybody!


defgav said...

Clemente was a great one, for sure. Do you think baseball should retire his number across all teams, a la Jackie?
Happy new year!

gcrl said...

mlb already recognizes clemente and his commitment service with the annual clemente award, but if they were to universally retire another number, i think that it should be clemente's 21. i don't think doing so would open the floodgates for other players' numbers - i don't even know who the other worthy players would be. maybe in 2022, the 50th anniversary year, baseball will make that move.

Fuji said...

I never understood how you guys write such amazing posts. How did you find these cards? Do you have a Pirates binder or something?

Anyways... thanks for wrapping up 2013 with this awesome Clemente tribute. Have a great 2014.

gcrl said...

thanks fuji. i had all the cards in my collection except for the 98 cordova and guillen. i picked those up on sportlots after browsing comc looking for good examples of the patch. i used to have, and still do to some degree, have a pc of clemente as well, so i have quite a few of the modern cards of his.