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Very Important 1954-56 Roberto Clemente Paperwork (8)

Very Important 1954-56 Roberto Clemente Paperwork (8)

He wasn’t always the refined, all-around player, the personification of perfection as his legend states. His “signs of greatness” were interspersed with bad habits and naivete. In fact, before he hit the big leagues, Roberto Clemente struggled a bit, striving to get respect among major league prospectors. Surprising but true, this notion is well documented in these important typed letters (some file copies and originals). Read in amazement, as they give unprecedented insight into Clemente’s entry into the Majors with regards to salary negotiations, personal advice from Branch Rickey, and 1954 contracts with Montreal and the Pittsburgh Pirates. Includes two letters from Branch Rickey to Roberto Clemente, discussing salary negotiations and perceived weaknesses in the Puerto Rican superstar’s abilities in the field as well as around the bases. In the first, dated Nov. 30, 1956 Rickey states, “Roberto, I do not want to be critical, but I do want to mention one or two items in which I think you might improve yourself in the near future… You have a habit of taking an extra step or so before throwing the ball from the outfield. When you are trying to prevent a man from taking an extra base, you must remember that he is running quite a long way while you are taking the double step… It is true that you can throw a little harder when you take a couple of steps, but you will actually lose much more time by taking the extra steps than you will gain by the extra power on your arm… You have a very fine arm, and you should take full advantage of it.” What a long way he came to earn 12 consecutive Gold Gloves! In his other letter dated Jan. 25, 1956, Rickey states, “It is still a very close question whether you can make the Pittsburgh club this coming year. Your batting average of .255 with your power percentage certainly does not demonstrate that you can play in the major leagues… We have every hope with an additional spring training and with last year’s experience, you can face a better year – but, certainly your request for a salary of $10,000 is an absurdity… I think it is only fair to point out to you that if you are not in spring training on time this year, it may be that you could easily prejudice your chances of making this club.” If only Rickey could have predicted the profound influence Clemente would have on the world of baseball, that he would go on to claim 4 NL batting titles over the course of one of the most marvelous careers in history. The future Pittsburgh Pirates legend clearly had a lot of faith in himself, asking for way more than he was worth at the time. The impression he left on the world of sports? Priceless. Letters are EX to EX-MT. All on 8.5x11” paper or letterhead.


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