|THE BLUR OF THE BALL|
WOULD'VE MADE THIS PICTURE PERFECT.
THE FRONT PAGE
- The final card of Roberto Clemente, one of the game's iconic players, is a must for any serious collector.
- If you check eBay, you can find nice conditioned samples for under $20.
- The fact that the graceful Clemente was my dad's favorite player adds special significance to me with all of his cards.
THE BACK PAGE
- These are his final career stats and speak volumes to his talent.
- There are a lot of wacky action shots in the '73 set, but I like this one a lot. Getting the umpire, catcher and batter in a photo is a nice trifecta, capturing baseball's nerve center.
- Clemente would piss off my dad sometimes, complaining of ailments real or imagined. He thought Clemente was jaking it at times. However, he'd be the first to come to his defense when a sportswriter or announcer would even slightly criticize him.
- Gifted with a magnificent arm, I still have nightmares of him playing right field in the '71 Series against the Birds. He hit a little bit that October, too (.414), earning Series MVP.
- As crushed as I was that the Birds lost, I couldn't help but admire the show Bobby put on. He was a tour de force for which the O's had no answer.
- Eerily in 1971, Clemente was interviewed at Three Rivers, talking about his quest for 3,000 hits: "You never know ... because God tells you how long you're going to be here, so you never know what can happen tomorrow.''
- He reached exactly 3,000 hits at the end of the '72 season, but then on New Year's Eve he was killed in a plane crash delivering relief supplies to earthquake-ravaged Nicaragua.