Terry Logue has a childhood memory for the ages. The Pennsylvania resident has owned a baseball signed by Pittsburgh Pirates great Roberto Clemente since he was a 5-year-old in 1970.
That is when he went to Three Rivers Stadium with his grandmother and got to meet the Hall of Fame right fielder thanks to his uncle, who was an usher at the stadium.
Now 56, Logue wants to help a friend in need. The Clemente baseball, signed on the sweet spot, is part of Wheatland Auctions Services’ Winter 2022 Vintage & Current Era sports card, autograph and memorabilia collection.
“I always said I’d never get rid of it,” said Logue, who has been investigating fraud for Progressive Insurance for 24 years. “But I’ve been helping a friend, a single mom.
“It’s a baseball. I might be able to help her out.”
So far, the ball has attracted nearly two dozen bidders with a high bid of $7,000 and a week left in the auction.
Logue, who currently lives in North Versailles southeast of Pittsburgh, said he also has authentic signed baseballs from Mickey Mantle and Ted Williams that he bought from a woman during the 1990s.
But it is the Clemente ball that has a charming story behind it.
As a 5-year-old boy growing up in Clairton, Pennsylvania, Logue’s parents would put him on a bus to Pittsburgh to visit his grandmother, Mary J. (Maria Josefina) Herpers Mitchell. The bus would travel approximately 13 miles, and Mitchell would pick up the boy as he alighted from the bus.
“What parent in their right mind would send a kid on a public bus today?” Logue said.
Logue’s grandmother was born in Oklahoma but during the 1930s lived in Madrid, Spain, according to online census records. Her parents, Jose Herpers and Josephine Rodriguez Herpers, were from Spain. She came to Pittsburgh and married Ross Miceli (who would Anglicize the family name to Mitchell) in 1940.
Mary Mitchell found a kindred spirit in Clemente, who was from Puerto Rico. The pair became friendly thanks to her brother-in-law Joe Mitchell, who was an usher at Three Rivers Stadium.
“She developed a friendship with Clemente,” Logue said. “And one day we went into the locker room.”
That was during the summer of 1970. Mary Mitchell and Clemente conversed in Spanish, and she asked the all-star to sign a baseball for her awe-struck grandson. Clemente was only too happy to oblige, picking up an official National League baseball and penning a bold signature on the sweet spot with a ballpoint pen.
Unfortunately, Logue does not remember the date of the game or the opponent. But Clemente certainly stuck in his memory.
“My favorite number is still 21,” Logue said, even though he played catcher in youth baseball and mimicked the mannerisms of Pirates catcher Manny Sanguillen.
The Clemente ball and signature have been pronounced as genuine by James Spence Authentication and comes with a letter of authenticity. Single-signed Clemente balls with the signature on the sweet spot and in good condition are highly sought after by collectors today.
Logue said he bought the Williams and Mantle signed baseballs, along with tobacco cards and other memorabilia, when he worked for an Acura dealership in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.
The collection belonged to a man and his wife, who brought in a box of baseballs and about 50 tobacco cards.
Logue paid $150 for the items of the box and had the Williams and Mantle baseballs authenticated by Spence. Both baseballs also are accompanied by letters of authenticity.
Logue said growing up in western Pennsylvania was an exciting time. The Pirates won a pair of World Series (1971 and 1979), while the Steelers won four Super Bowl titles during the 1970s.
“What better time to be a fan,” Logue said.
Logue was not the only family member with memorabilia.
His older brother, Timothy Logue, who died in August 2007, once was hit by a vehicle while riding a friend’s bicycle. The Pirates gave him a bat signed by the players. But like movie character Scotty Smalls two decades later in “The Sandlot,” Timothy Logue and his friends used the bat to play games, basically obliterating the signatures.
Terry Logue even had an interest in this year’s Super Bowl, since Bengals wide receiver Tyler Boyd hails from his hometown of Clairton.
Terry Logue has three grown children — two sons and a daughter — and the two men are hockey fans, he said.
He still has “a ton of cards I haven’t done anything with.”
Selling the Clemente ball would close a chapter from his youth, but Terry Logue said it was worth it if he can help his friend get out of a financial hole.
“You’re only on this earth once, and if I can help her out, great,” he said. “It would be great to sell it for a big price.”