Here’s a trivia question. Which Hall of Famer gave up another Hall of Famer’s 3,000th hit—and then lost the designation seconds later?
For the answer you have to go back to 1972. Roberto Clemente, sitting on 2,999 hits in a late-season series with the New York Mets, hits a bouncer to the right side. Ken Boswell chases it down but can’t get a good grip on it and Clemente beats it out for what seemed to be a base hit. The ball is handed to him, he doffs his cap and the crowd begins a standing ovation.
Our Photo of the Day, in cooperation with RMY Auctions, is an Associated Press wirephoto showing that moment.
On the pitcher’s mound, Tom Seaver looks to be the man who surrendered the milestone hit by the revered Pirates’ outfielder….until the scoreboard begins flashing ‘error’. Seaver would get out of the inning and go on to earn his 20th win of the season. Clemente would have to wait another agonizing day to lift what had become a burden off his back. Fans holding ticket stubs and programs from the September 29 game saw their valuable souvenirs turned fairly ordinary in a matter of seconds.
The next day, a Saturday in front of a sparse crowd at Three Rivers Stadium, Clemente ripped a pitch from 22-year-old John Matlack off the wall for a double and history was finally made.
Clemente would play sparingly over the final three games of the regular season, resting for the playoffs.
He would be dead three months later.
The 8×11 photo of the ‘3,000th hit that wasn’t’ includes the caption printed on the glossy black and white photo. The back is stamped with the date of publication: September 30, 1972 and carries the printed newspaper caption.
It’s one of more than 1,300 images up for auction through Sunday at RMYAuctions.com.