6.12.2008

1970 Topps
Roberto Clemente


There are a few interesting things about this card that are worth noting:

First, if you look closely, there is what appears to be staple holes just above Clemente's cap, not to mention a pretty good crease in the bottom-left corner of the card.

Second, the card identifies it's subject as "Roberto" Clemente.

So what's so unusual about that? Well, for the previous 13 years, Topps referred to Clemente as "Bob."

Beginning in 1957, Topps began using Bob instead of Roberto on Clemente's cards. But what is weird is that he was Roberto in 1955 and '56.

In 1970, Roberto made a comeback.

As a kid I hated the look of the 1970 Topps. Maybe it was its ugly gray border. But as I get older, the design's simplicity is growing on me. This particular card shows a nice example of one of the game's greatest hitters only a few years before his tragic death.

2 comments:

Mark Dodge Medlin said...

I can remember TV announcers calling him "Bob" in the late 1960s. Seemed normal at the time (since I wouldn't have known who this Roberto guy was), but it sounds really weird now.

I also remember seeing an ESPN program a while back detailing the racism Clemente suffered at the hands of some sportswriters. When they'd quote him, they'd write "heem" instead of "him," for example.

You could argue that they were just trying to get his accent right, but come on. When they quoted a Bostonian, for example, do you think they wrote "ballpahk" for "ballpark"? Doubtful.

Walt said...

The Voice of the Pirates radio and TV during the 60s and 70s was the Gunner -- Bob Prince (alongside former Pirates' pitcher - Nellie King.)

Prince and King always referred to Clemente as "Bobby", much more than his given name of "Roberto." I guess others in the city followed.

In his early years in Pittsburgh, Clemente was still learning the English language. I've read that Clemente never liked "Bob" or "Bobby", but begrudgingly tolerated the Americanization of his name by the media.

I started following the Pirates as an 8 year old in 1970 -- and always considered him "Roberto."

I only wish we could have watched a few more seasons, (maybe another Championship??) and more importantly, seen what great things Clemente the man - would have gone on to do in his post-baseball years.