One of the greatest Pirates of all-time was almost a Dodger. But even before signing with the Dodgers in February 1954, Roberto Clemente also had an offer from the Giants. Think about an outfield with Mays and Clemente! The Dodgers won that battle, but lost Clemente anyway. Pittsburgh poached Clemente in the November 1954 rule 5 draft since he was left unprotected on the Dodgers’ AAA affiliate Montreal Royals.
Four Hall of Famers, three of them first-ballot*.
Bob Lemon, Cleveland Indians
Lemon was overshadowed throughout his short career by teammate Bob Feller, but his brilliance was clear to all who saw him pitch. He won 20+ games seven times in thirteen seasons, leading the league in complete games five times. He was not inducted into the Hall of Fame until his twelfth time on the ballot in 1976. His uniform was retired in 1998 by the Indians.
Roberto Clemente, Pittsburgh Pirates
Warren Spahn, Boston/Milwaukee Braves
Jim Palmer, Baltimore Orioles
* Spahn received a vote for the Hall of Fame while he was still active, prior to the establishment of rules governing one’s eligibility for the Hall of Fame. In his first year of eligibility following retirement, he was elected with 83.2% of the vote.
Right about now, I should be boarding a plane in Baltimore to come back home. If all went according to plan, I saw the Orioles play the Red Sox last night at Camden…of course, things don’t always go according to plan, so I’ll let you know if plans changed.
Earlier this year, my family and I drove through Pittsburgh on the way to visit family, and stopped to see the Reds play the Pirates at PNC Park. We only saw a few batters because of the rain, but I had fun visiting the park for the first time. The Pirates have some great statues outside the park, including the legendary Honus Wagner right out front…
“Pops” (Willie Stargell) is located on the third base side of PNC…
Roberto Clemente (and the bridge named after him) are out near left field…
There is also a bridge named after artist Andy Warhol, parallel to the Clemente bridge, but I didn’t get a photo of it. It’s basically the same bridge, and I didn’t see any signs calling them Clemente or Warhol. I wanted to go to the Warhol Museum, but it was closed the day we were in town.
Outside the right field side of the park is a statue of Hall of Famer Bill Mazeroski…
There is also a street named after Maz, and since we were just walking around for a few hours before the game, I snapped a shot of the street sign…
It really shouldn’t have taken more than two months to write this post.
This is the tenth book in the “Baseball Card Adventure” series by Dan Gutman, but the first one I have read. They are written for younger readers, maybe 3rd or 4th grade, but I really enjoyed it.
The books are about a boy who is able to travel in time using baseball cards, and he sets out in this book to save Roberto Clemente‘s life by convincing him not to get on the airplane in 1972. The only Clemente card he could find, however, was from 1969, so he had to take a detour through Woodstock before finding Clemente.
It’s an entertaining read, and fairly quick (I was able to get through it in a few hours during downtime at work). After reading a more historical account of Clemente, I intend to seek out other Dan Gutman “Baseball Card Adventure” books, and hope they are just as fun.