Roberto Clemente had exactly 3000 hits in his Major League career before he died in a 1972 plane crash while taking supplies to Nicaraguan earthquake victims. Clemente was already a baseball legend, a rangy right fielder who was a four time National League batting champion (1961, 1964, 1965 and 1967) and a twelve time Gold Glove winner for defensive prowess. He was especially known for his headlong base running, cannon arm, and penchant for swinging at nose-high fastballs. Clemente played his entire major league career (1955-72) with the Pittsburgh Pirates, and won two World Series championships with the team: in 1960 (over the New York Yankees) and in 1971 (over the Baltimore Orioles). . He batted a gaudy .414 in the 1971 World Series and was named the series MVP He was named the National League’s Most Valuable Player in 1966. Clemente got his 3000th hit on the last day of the regular season in 1972. That December, when an earthquake devastated parts of Nicaragua, Clemente organized relief flights from Puerto Rico and boarded one of the flights himself; he died when the plane crashed into the ocean on December 31, 1972. He was voted into the Baseball Hall of Fame less than three months after his death when the Hall of Fame waived the rule requiring a five-year waiting period after the end of a player's career. With his induction, Clemente became the first Hispanic member of the Hall of Fame. Today, Major League Baseball gives an annual Roberto Clemente Award to "the player who best exemplifies the game of baseball, sportsmanship, community involvement and the individual's contribution to his team.”
This 36 inch, approximately 35.5 ounce Louisville Slugger model U1 bat was manufactured by Hillerich & Bradsby during the period 1965-1968. It is a signature model bat, indicating that Clemente had an endorsement contract with the company at the time. This bat is uncracked and shows evidence of game preparation including an area of scoring (grooving) approximately 3" x 1" above the barrel label, characteristic of Clemente. Light evidence of use is evidenced, including rack marks, cleat marks, weight ring marks, and light handle wear. The faded number 21 --- Clemente's uniform number with the Pirates --appears on the knob in vintage marker. One light hit mark appears above the scoring, but the competitive use of this bat, beyond game preparation as noted above, is minimal. Clemente's use of Model U1 bats with the dimensions as noted is documented in Clemente's H & B personal factory records between 2/14/65 and 12/12/68 as representing over 60% of his orders.
Roberto Clemente has signed this bat in blue ball point pen on the barrel. The signature has worn, and is difficult to see. The signature has been authenticated by James Spence Authentication (Letter of Authenticity included) and bears the certification number B42031.