After pulling a Roberto Clemente card from a pack of this year's Allen & Ginter, it got me thinking about having a "real" card of Roberto. You know, one that came out a little closer to his playing days.
I scoured eBay for something reasonable, and after putting in a low bid, came away with Clemente's final Topps card for three bucks, shipped.
Whenever I can find a deal like that, I always think, "would I rather spend three bucks on a pack of cards at Walmart, or have a vintage card of a Hall of Fame player from the early 70s?" That's an easy question in my book.
I love the 1973 set. Something seems a little "off" about the photography, and there are some very unique shots used in the set. Roberto's card is a good example of it, in a photo that is taken slightly behind home plate, showing the profiles of the catcher and umpire. Looks like the Bucs are playing the Mets. I can't get over the design of the '73 set, and love it so much that I made it one of my goals to finish the Padres team set from '73 (finished!). I've also managed to pick up a few other '73 here and there. Well, just two, really (Sandy Alomar and Jerry Grote), but still, a great set.
I'm not sure where I was or what I was doing when I heard about Clemente's untimely death, but it was easily a few decades after it happened. It might've been while watching one of the innings of Ken Burn's Baseball documentary (so... good...) with my dad. Anyways, I knew that in '72 he was battling injuries, but I guess I was thinking that he was also struggling at the plate. A quick look at his .312 average tells me that my assumptions were incorrect.
Part of me wants to know why Topps made this card. Clemente died on December 31, 1972, so I would've thought that they'd have time to pull the card. Still, it was also in the first series, so maybe it was too late? Either way, I'm glad they kept it in, since '73 was the year that he was posthumously elected into Cooperstown. And it was cheap enough (and worn enough) to slip into my price range.
My collection rarely strays from Padre cards, but in this case, I made an exception. I'm happy with this choice.