Roberto Clemente’s last All-Star Game ring, presented to the Hall of Famer just five months before his death in a New Year’s Eve plane crash in Puerto Rico, is about to go on the auction block for the first time.
Mile High Card Company will offer the ring in its upcoming catalog auction where it’s expected to fetch a six-figure price.
“He was one of the most beloved players in the game’s history and probably had many more accolades headed his way, but the ring we are offering in our auction is, unfortunately, the last reward that Clemente received,” said MHCC President and CEO Brian Drent.
Competing in his 18th major league campaign, the 37-year old Clemente was still one of the best hitters in the National League, selected to play in his 12th all-star game while entering the break with 8 homers, 42 RBI and a .310 batting average. Having missed two weeks of the season due to injury, Clemente returned to the Pirates lineup on July 23 and drove in the winning run in a 3-2 victory over Cincinnati. Pirates manager Danny Murtaugh was selected as the skipper to represent the National League in the midsummer classic that took place two days later and decided to hold his star outfielder in reserve to allow him to rest, so Clemente never entered the game.
The ring was presented to Clemente by commissioner Bowie Kuhn, a Claret Red Linde Star ruby is set in the center with “All Star 1972” engraved on the left side and the word “Baseball” with an MLB insignia on the right.
Matching 1972 All-Star rings of Tony Kubek and Luis Aparicio that have been sold in the past, the Clemente ring has a stamped “14K” and engraved “7-25-72 R. C.” in the interior of the band. It was reportedly given as a gift to a close personal friend of Clemente’s and was recently sold to the consignor by that individual.
Clemente recorded his 3000th hit as the ’72 regular season came to a close. He died on a humanitarian mission to aid victims of an earthquake in Nicaragua when the overloaded aircraft plunged into the ocean shortly after takeoff.
The ring wasn’t part of a 2017 auction of material consigned by the Clemente family, a sale that saw his 1967 National League Silver Bat sell for $493,500; a 1960 World Series jersey reach $411,450 and his 1960 and 1971 World Series rings sell for $734,375 combined. No all-star rings were featured, and there are no documented sales of any other Roberto Clemente All-Star rings.
The auction will begin Monday, March 4 and continue through Thursday, March 21 at MileHighCardCo.com.