Roberto Clemente’s World Series bat, Josh Gibson photo sell at auction
Covered in ball marks, ball stitch impressions, cleat marks and with a crack in the handle, one thing sticks out about the bat — Roberto Clemente’s childhood name “Momen.”
Clemente purchased the “Momen Clemente” bat on Oct. 3, 1960, two days before the World Series against the New York Yankees began at Forbes Field in Pittsburgh. Robert Edward Auctions of Chester, N.J., which sold the bat, said it is desirable “given the distinct possibility that it was used by Clemente in the 1960 World Series.”
The Pittsburgh Pirates beat the Yankees with Bill Mazeroski’s walkoff homer at Forbes Field in the bottom of the ninth inning in the seventh game.
Clemente’s nickname and the bat used by the future Hall of Famer are rare, with only 12 produced by Hillerich & Bradsby between 1955 and 1960. That helped account for the $72,000 price tag the bat recently sold for at an auction.
“The amount of use shown on the bat is consistent with Clemente’s production at the plate against the New York Yankees in the 1960 World Series,” a release reads. “Clemente batted .313 in the Series, totaling nine hits and three RBI in 29 at bats. Clemente’s first World Series was a historic one,” in which he hit safely in all seven games.
The bat wasn’t the only piece of Pittsburgh history that sold at the auction.
A photo of Allegheny County’s Homestead Grays catcher Josh Gibson sold for $60,000. The photo was used for Gibson’s 1950-51 Toleteros card, the only vintage baseball card issued of the Negro League Hall of Famer, three years after his death.
The photo shows Gibson posing in front of the grandstand in a batting position, a rare find with the majority of photos featuring him with his team.
Gibson’s name is written on the back of the photo three times, along with other handwritten notes. Credit to a photographer or news outlet was not stamped on the photo, but officials believe the picture was taken in the 1940s.
“Gibson was one of the greatest players in Negro League history,” the release reads. “As a hitter, he was without equal, and his power was said to be on par with that of Babe Ruth. While no official statistics are available, Gibson’s Hall of Fame plaque credits him with over 800 home runs during his seventeen-year career (1930-1946).”
Gibson died of a stroke on Jan. 20, 1947. He was 35. Twenty-five years after his death, he was inducted in the Baseball Hall of Fame.
Bidding for the photo started at $10,000 and drew 23 bidders.
Robert Edward auctions have previously sold Babe Ruth’s 1916 rookie card for $600,000, Jackie Robinson’s 1949 Brooklyn Dodgers contract for $267,000 and Muhammad Ali’s “Rumble in the Jungle” fight shows for $100,725.
Megan Tomasic is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Megan at 724-850-1203, [email protected] or via Twitter .