TSN Archives: Roberto Clemente collects 3,000th hit (Oct. 14, 1972, issue)

Roberto Clemente in photos

This story, by correspondent Charley Feeney, first appeared in the Oct. 14, 1972, issue of The Sporting News under the headline, “Roberto Collects 3000th Hit, Dedicates It to Pirates Fans”.

PITTSBURGH, Pa. — Roberto Clemente's 3,000th major league hit on September 30 at Three Rivers Stadium brought out the many sides of the great Pirate right fielder.

Clemente, who was swarmed by interviewers in the clubhouse after being removed from the game for a pinch-hitter in the fifth inning, talked about the people he thought of when he reached 3,000.

"I dedicated the hit to the Pittsburgh fans and to the people in Puerto Rico and to one man in particular," he said. "The one man carried me around for weeks looking for a scout to sign me."

The 38-year-old Clemente identified the man as Roberto Marin, a Puerto Rican who urged the then Brooklyn Dodgers to sign Clemente in 1954.

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Less than two years later, Clemente became the property of the Pirates when Branch Rickey drafted him off the Montreal (International) roster for $4,000.

Clemente belongs to the 3,000 Hit Club. He raised its membership to 11 when he doubled off Mets' lefthander Jon Matlack, who had held Clemente hitless in five previous at-bats this year.

The Pittsburgh fans came to Three Rivers on September 29, hoping to see Clemente reach the milestone. They cheered him constantly throughout the game and again the following day when he delivered No. 3,000 in the fourth inning.

Ump Handshake

When the ball sailed into the gap in left-center, the crowd of 13,119 stood and cheered. Second base umpire Doug Harvey gave the ball to Clemente, who tossed it to first base coach Don Leppert.

Harvey then shook hands with Clemente and Mets' second baseman Ken Boswell and shortstop Jim Fregosi took turns patting him on the rump.

Later, in the dressing room, Clemente spoke of his reaction to the cheers of the fans,

"I felt kind of bashful," he said. "I'm a very quiet, shy person, although you writers might not believe it because I shout sometimes."

Less than 24 hours before, Clemente was shouting. He felt he should have had base hit 3,000 in the first inning on September 29. He hit a high bouncer which Boswell bobbled.

Official scorer Luke Quay, who considers himself Clemente's No. 1 booster among sportswriters, charged Boswell with an error.

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Later, Clemente charged that official scorers through the years had deprived him of two batting titles.

Clemente blasted the scoring decision. The next day, when he saw his remarks in the newspaper, he spoke with Quay and indicated that his tirade was not against him.

Quay reported Clemente's conversation this way:

"Clemente told me that he would not have popped off if he had known that I was the official scorer. He thought it was you (this writer)."

Clemente feels this writer has deprived him of hits on borderline calls.

While Clemente's changing moods are unpredictable, his greatness as a ballplayer is in evidence every time he swings a but, runs the bases, throws or catches a baseball.