"For me, the best baseball card ever made is (1) of a player that I never saw play, (2) of a player on a team that I have never rooted for, and (3) is from a set that is not my favorite. However, it is a powerful image that is about much more than baseball. It is the 1973 card of Roberto Clemente.
The image is wistful. The long shadows show that the picture was taken just before sunset. Most of Clemente’s face is covered in shadows and he is looking away. It seems to perfectly capture the fact that his brilliant career was sun-setting. He was 38 and had completed 18 seasons. No one could have known when the card was designed that this was not only the sunset of a long career but of a short life.
The card, #50, was released in the first series of the 1973 set. Surely it was already in production when news reached Topps that Clemente had lost his life while on a hero’s mission to Nicaragua on the last day of 1972.
Thank you for your entry Dave! This is a fantastic card for sure.