Roberto Clemente’s professional baseball career started in October 1952 when he signed on with the Cangrejeros de Santurce Puerto Rican Winter League where he helped the club win a championship. His field time officially begun the following season when he batted .288. He went on to sign with the Brooklyn Dodgers in an amateur draft in February 1954 where he’d play one season with the Montreal Royals before Pittsburgh grabbed him in the rookie draft in November of that same year.
Clemente made his MLB debut on April 17, 1955 but it took some time for his career to pickup steam. While his first year was met with lackluster performance and a measly .255 AVG, it was his fielding performance that eventually kicked his performance into shape and won him a huge mess of Gold Gloves and All-Star appearances, among other achievements.1
As an ardent supporter of Puerto Rico, Clemente returned to play with the Puerto Rican Winter League throughout his professional career. This included off-season time with the productive San Juan Los Nuevas Senadores, where Clemente played in 1961-62.
Offered here is the original 1961-62 contract Roberto Clemente signed with the San Juan Los Nuevas Senadores. The Senadores de San Juan club was a premiere league that won eight championships in its 77-year tenure that ultimately concluded in 2015. Over the years, tons of other great players came through the league, which included names like: Monte Irvin, Larry Doby, Roy Campanella, Thurman Munson, Johnny Bench, Tony Gwynn, Manny Sanguillen, Carlos Delgado, Bernie Williams, Edgar Martinez, Juan Gonzalez, Roberto Alomar, Carlos Baerga, and Ruben Sierra.2
This 1961-62 contract has Roberto Clemente signing on to play ball for a cool monthly $700. While that particular season wasn’t as productive as hoped (41-40), Clemente’s stellar batting skills helped them collect on their fourth championship just two years later. Clement’s ink signature appears bold on the bottom right of page two and has been graded 8 by PSA. While this contract features hole punches and slight toning, it appears in excellent condition for its age.
Roberto Clemente was as great a man as he was a ball player, and it showed in his efforts to help earthquake victims in Nicaragua. Sadly, those efforts claimed his life when the plane carrying him and supplies crashed into the Atlantic Ocean on December 31, 1972 just after he secured his 3000th hit with the Pittsburgh Pirates. While MLB rules require 5 years from final season to Hall of Fame eligibility, that requirement was lifted for Roberto Clemente as he was inducted in 1973, the year following his passing.
Clemente’s performance on and off the field was momentous and will live on as a benchmark for human potential. This exceptional 1961-62 Winter League contract, which is reserved for the finest of collections, acts as a proof and a constant reminder that legends do exist and should be remembered always. Collectors are encouraged to bid aggressively on this one-of-a-kind contract.
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- Roberto Clemente. www.baseball-reference.comx ↩︎
- Senadores de San Juan. www.baseball-reference.com ↩︎