Pittsburgh Pirates flannel road jersey worn by legendary Hall of Fame outfielder Roberto Clemente in 1967, the year in which he won his fourth and final National League batting title. Graded A9.5 by MEARS. Clemente flannel jerseys are scarce and have always been highly prized by collectors. This is one of only five Clemente flannel jerseys we can recall having seen, and the fact that it dates from perhaps his finest overall season only adds to its appeal. This particular example also comes with the provenance of originating directly from the Clemente family. The history of the jersey is detailed by Dave Grob of MEARS in his accompanying letter:
The uniform is said to have originated from the Clemente family and originally acquired by Dan Means. Mr. Means is known to have obtained any number of items directly from the Clemente family, to include a number of significant uniform items. I contacted Mr. Means to see if he could verify the claim that this uniform was originally obtained by him and sourced from the Clemente family as described. Mr. Means verified that the uniform submitted for evaluation (1965 road pants and 1967 road jersey) did in fact originate from the Clemente family and was in fact at one time part of his collection. (Please note that even though a 1967 Clemente Pirates road jersey and a pair of 1965 Clemente Pirates road pants were originally submitted together to MEARS for evaluation, only the 1967 Clemente Pirates jersey is being offered here.)
Its remarkable provenance notwithstanding, this is an exceptional Clemente game-worn jersey in all respects. The grey flannel jersey is lettered "Pirates" across the front, with the number "21" appearing both on the left breast and reverse. All letters and numerals are appliquéd in black on gold felt. A "MacGregor 42" label appears in the collar. Located on the interior right-front tail are a laundry tag and a MacGregor tag reading "Set 1 1967." According to Grob, "The jersey shows signs of moderate to heavy use and wear. The jersey is fairly evenly soiled, both front and back; but this is best seen when the jersey is examined under UV lighting. . . . All lettering and numbering is assessed as being original to the jersey and free of any signs of contrived application, use, or wear." Graded A9.5 (base grade of 10, with just .5 points deducted for the aforementioned soiling).
Clemente batted a career-high and league leading .357 with 23 home runs and 110 RBI in 1967. He also led the league in hits with 209. As such, it was arguably his greatest all-around season at the plate, given that both his home run and RBI totals were the second-best marks of his career. A great humanitarian as well as an accomplished ballplayer, Clemente died tragically in a plane crash on December 31, 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). Clemente flannels are the exception rather than the rule, and collectors would be hard pressed to find a finer example than this remarkable garment. LOA from Dave Grob/MEARS. Reserve $10,000. Estimate $30,000++.