Roberto Clemente (1934–1972) was born in Puerto Rico and played eighteen seasons at right field for the Pittsburgh Pirates. His batting average was above .300 and he was selected for every All-Star Game from 1960 until his death with the sole exception of the 1968 season, when he was plagued by shoulder problems. Noted for his deep Catholic faith and his humanitarian work in the offseason, Clemente died in a plane crash bringing earthquake relief supplies to Nicaragua. The following year he became the first Latino American Baseball Hall of Fame inductee, and he was honored with a 1984 stamp that also marked the first appearance of the Puerto Rican flag on U.S. postage.
The bat shown here was swung by Clemente in 1960, the year he won his first World Series championship with the Pirates. It is inscribed with a childhood nickname (“Momen”) found only on his earliest bats, and his player number 21 is written on the knob. Clemente gave the bat to his fellow Pirate, Bill Mazeroski, who kept it until 2013. The uniform and helmet are from 1966, the year Clemente achieved career highs in home runs and runs batted in, won the National League Most Valuable Player award, and captured his sixth of twelve Gold Glove awards.
The artwork for this stamp was based on a circa 1960 photograph of Clemente by Don Wingfield, staff photographer for Sporting News and the Topps Company.
Clemente is one of only three baseball players to appear on more than one U.S. postage stamp (the others are Babe Ruth and Jackie Robinson).