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1962 Roberto Clemente Pittsburgh Pirates Contract
Starting Bid - $2,500, Sold For - $14,100
Four-page fold-over contract, dated February 5, 1962, between Roberto Clemente and the Pittsburgh Athletic Co., Inc., signed in blue ink by both "Roberto Clemente" (grading "10") and "Joe L. Brown" ("10"), general manager of the club. The signature of National League president Warren Giles on the contract is a stamped facsimile. The one-year agreement, for the 1962 season, calls for Clemente to receive a salary of $26,000. A typed addendum specifies how Clemente is to be paid: "Salary payable in 12 equal semi-monthly installments for the period commencing April 1, 1962 through September 30, 1962." When Clemente signed this contract in the winter of 1962 he had just completed the finest season of his career to date. Clemente won his first, of an eventual four, batting titles in 1961, finishing the year with a .351 average, 23 home runs, and 89 RBI. Playing under the terms of this agreement, Clemente enjoyed another outstanding season, batting .310 with 10 home runs and 74 RBI. Roberto Clemente was not only one of the finest all-around players of his era, but one of baseball's great humanitarians. Unfortunately, Clemente died tragically in a plane crash in 1972 while flying relief supplies to earthquake victims in Nicaragua. The following year he became the first Hispanic ballplayer elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame (the Hall waived its normal five-year waiting period in his honor; to date, only he and Lou Gehrig have been afforded that special honor). Included among Clemente's impressive lifetime baseball achievements are a .317 average, 3,000 hits, and one MVP Award. Baseball contracts of Hall of Fame players, especially those dating from their respective playing careers, are rare and the offered example is no exception. This is the first Roberto Clemente Major-League contract we have offered in many years. We have only seen three other examples at auction in the last ten years. Though we do know that quite a few other examples, perhaps all years, exist (in the 1970s, collector and Pirates General Manager Joe L. Brown traded these contracts to collectors for rare press pins), player contracts are widely recognized as among the most desirable of all Clemente items, and examples rarely surface. The contract (8.5 x 11 inches) displays two horizontal folds and a small, light stain along the top border; otherwise in Near-Mint condition. LOA from James Spence/JSA. Reserve $2,500. Estimate $10,000+. SOLD FOR $14,100
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