The story behind the provenance is definitely a little different but a World Series-used Roberto Clemente bat is coming to auction this summer.
Heritage Auctions will offer the 36-inch, 36.6 ounce Louisville Slugger attributed to use in the 1971 World Series in its Summer Platinum Auction. Included is a letter from a Pittsburgh Pirates executive and even a newspaper clipping that tells the story of a good luck charm swapped for a piece of baseball history.
The bat comes with an October 28, 1971 letter on Pirates letterhead from Assistant to the General Manager Joe O’Toole to Mr. Austin Turner at Boswell Memorial Hospital in Sun City, Arizona. He writes, in part, “Under separate cover, I am sending to you Roberto Clemente’s bat that he used during the World Series and also one of Danny Murtaugh’s caps. Danny asked me to be sure and send you a token for the remembrance of the luck that the Indian Sun God brought.”
That last statement is explained in an included clipping from an Arizona newspaper humorously entitled, “Arizona Kachina doll, not Clemente bat, won series.” The article explains that Turner had sent the Pirates a Native American good luck charm to O’Toole, who was the brother of a fellow hospital employee. The article notes that the doll arrived when the Pirates trailed the Baltimore Orioles two games to none. Pittsburgh came back to win in seven games and O’Toole then sent the bat and letter to his Arizona friend as a thank you. A photograph in the clipping shows O’Toole’s sister holding the Clemente bat and wearing Murtaugh’s cap.
Clemente hit .414 in the ‘71 series, with 12 hits, two home runs and four RBI to earn the World Series MVP Award.
The bat has numerous ball marks, light scoring on the barrel, light pine tar on the uncracked handle and green streaks, likely from the Pirates’ bat rack. The number “21” is written in black marker on the knob with a red slash. It’s been graded PSA/DNA GU 10.
Heritage has placed a pre-sale estimate of $40,000 or more on the bat.
Bidding will open in late July and with the auction closing over a two-day period August 17 and 18.