Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory added another superstar to its roster on Aug. 18 when it unveiled a lifelike sculpture of Major League Baseball Hall of Famer and global humanitarian, Roberto Clemente. Catch the replay of the ceremony below!
Clemente became a baseball legend during the 1960s and 70s while playing his entire 18-season career for the Pittsburgh Pirates. With lightning speed, an explosive throwing arm and a consistently high batting average, Clemente was known as one of the most complete players of his era.
“We are thrilled to feature the great Roberto Clemente in the museum,” said Deana Lockman, Executive Director of Experiences at Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory. “With his extraordinary character and community involvement, Clemente was a true ambassador for the game whose legacy as a humanitarian has endured over time. We’re proud to include him in our lineup of baseball greats and we know our guests will be delighted,” she said.
The new statue features Clemente in a Pirates jersey from the late 1960s complete with iconic vest and banded stirrups and socks. The statue conveys the readiness of Clemente in his batting stance, eyes glued on the pitcher, as he waits for the pitch and gets ready to swing. The statue is complete with lifelike skin and period-specific detail, including his U1 model Louisville Slugger bat.
“It’s a true honor for our father to be recognized in this way by Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory,” said Luis Clemente. “My father would be proud to have such a tribute in this great museum. We are incredibly grateful to all who were involved in the creation of this timeless statue that honors his legacy,” he said on behalf of the Roberto Clemente Foundation.
Clemente was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1973, becoming both the first Latin American and Caribbean player to be enshrined. He was also the first Latin American and Caribbean player to help win a World Series as a starting position player (1960), to receive an NL MVP Award (1966), and to receive a World Series MVP Award (1971).
He was selected to 15 All-Star games and was a Gold Glove Award winner for 12 consecutive seasons from 1961 through 1972. His batting average was over .300 for 13 seasons and he amassed exactly 3,000 hits during his major league career. Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory honored Clemente and his remarkable career in 2006 with the addition of his bat to the Walk of Fame on West Main Street.
The Clemente statue unveiling highlights an entire day of museum programming dedicated to the Pirates great, including Clemente Trivia and a Clemente Artifact Presentation. Also, following the ceremony, Clemente’s game-used bat will be permanently added to the museum’s Hold a Piece of History exhibit. This U1 model bat from 1968 is 35 inches long, weighs a remarkable 39 ounces and contains a rather fascinating history.
Check out the slideshow below! Photos include the bat we're adding to Hold a Piece of History, as well as the some photos from our archives of Clemente during his career.