We all know Roberto Clemente as a legendary member of the Pittsburgh Pirates and a Hall of Famer who helped pave the way for Latin American players in MLB.
However, it was today back in 1954 when he signed a contract with the Brooklyn Dodgers and became a member of the Montreal Royals — the team where Jackie Robinson had started before he broke MLB’s color barrier in 1947. The move was largely to block Clemente from being signed by the New York Giants.
Veteran collectors know there’s even a baseball card showing this.
The card can be found in 1994 Topps Archives, a set that reprinted cards from that year with a few extra throw-ins that showed players who didn’t have cardboard that year.
How did the Pirates land Clemente? Well, two of the team’s scouts had seen him during his season in Montreal. Their General Manager? Branch Rickey. The team claimed Clemente in the 1954 Rule 5 Draft that November.
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