Pittsburgh Pirate Baseball Legend Lives on in History Rosemary McKittrick’s website LiveAuctionTalk.com serves the antiques and arts industry, collectors, and institutions. Sign up for a free weekly auction update.
News-Antique.com - Jul 16,2008 - July 16, 2008 -- I grew up in Pittsburgh during the baseball reign of Roberto Clemente. On long muggy afternoons, Bob Prince, the radio voice for the Pittsburgh Pirates could be heard squealing through my transistor radio as the right fielder gracefully dove for a deep high fly ball.
I use the word grace because that’s the best word I can think of to describe how the man played baseball. When it counted most, Clemente was right there with a lightening fast arm, a winning hit, or a seemingly impossible catch that would clinch the game.
"Clemente could field the ball in New York and throw out a guy in Pennsylvania," broadcaster Vin Scully once said.
"He's the strangest hitter in baseball, figure him one way and he'll kill you another," said Sandy Koufax, former Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher.
If there was ever as perfect player Clemente was it. Fans lined up at the gates of Forbes Field to get in and watch him play when he was in town. Clemente had heart and made all of us in the rust belt city feel a little bit better about ourselves.
The Pittsburgh Pirates drafted Clemente in 1955 and he started as their right fielder. By 1960, he was a powerhouse player in the major leagues. He also helped lead the Pirates to win both the National League pennant and the World Series.
"I would be lost without baseball. I don't think I could stand being away from it as long as I was alive," he said.
Clemente, 38, died in a plane crash Dec. 31, 1972.
On April 24, Sotheby’s and SCP Auctions featured a selection of Clemente items in its Sports Memorabilia auction. A game-worn batting helmet; caught by fan in box seats; circa 1960s; sold for $32,200.
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