Roberto Clemente’s Bat | Ending It At 3,000 Hits

Roberto Clemente's Bat

Despite his bat being deemed a rare find, Roberto Clemente’s bat details are found everywhere. No surprise, considering he may be the best Pittsburgh Pirate to ever play the game, and with his untimely death, left a hole in the story of what would have been. Here we attempt to consolidate information on bat sizing, models, and game used information. This serves as a starting point for research on the Puerto Rican Roberto Clemente’s bat.

Brand Length Min Length Max Weight Min Weight Max Model Type Years
Louisville Slugger 34.5 36 31.4, 36 38 U1, G105 1955 – 1972
Rawlings Adirondack 37.75 129 1968 – 1970

Roberto Clemente's Bat

What Size Bat Did Roberto Clemente Use?

Roberto Clemente's Bat

Roberto Clemente swung the largest post-WWII bat we have yet to document. Often swinging bats as heavy as 38 ounces, his bats were clubs compared to many others of his era. Willy Mays and Hank Aaron, for example, never swung anything more than a 35-ounce bat. Even by pre-WWII standards, Clemente’s bat was heavy. Ruth and Gehrig would have been impressed.

We found one auction where the bat weight measured at 31.4 ounces. However, this came from his rookie season. Through his prime and later in his career, he regularly used the large 38-ounce bats.

What Bat Model Did Roberto Clemente Use?

Roberto Clemente's Bat

The data gathered shows Clemente preferred Louisville Slugger’s U1 much of the time. However, he spent time swinging the G105 and, we would guess, a number of other models from the ever present Hillerich and Bradsby.

Game Used Roberto Clemente Bats

The enormous sizing makes a number of Clemente bats recognizable. No others, were 38 ounces. Additionally, on some of his bats, Clemente would carve light grooves in the barrel—believing this grip would create better backspin on the ball for better flight carry. We debunk much of this at justbatreviews.com in the best baseball bats section. Expect, as well, his jersey number (21) written on the bat’s knob.

Roberto Clemente’s Best At Bat

Roberto Clemente's Bat

In the second to last game of the 1972 season, Roberto Clemente, with 2,999 hits for his career, dinked a slow roller to 2nd base in the bottom of the 1st. He would beat the throw to first, but the official scorekeeper ruled the player an error. The remaining at-bats for the game would include a strikeout, fly out and ground out. Hence, his 0-4 day left him at 2,999 hits going into the final game of the season.

The following day, in the bottom of the 1st, Clemente stuck out. In the bottom of the 4th, against pitcher Pitcher Joe Matlock of Mets fame, Clemente drove a fastball on a rope to the left-centerfield gap. He would sprint to first and jog it out to second for a stand-up double. At the time, he was the 11th player to hit for 3,000 hits and the second, save Honus Wagner, to do it in a Pirates uniform.

It was the last at-bat of Clemente’s season, and little did we all know, it would be the last at-bat of Clemente’s career. Tragically, in December of that year, a plane carrying Roberto Clemente and his humanitarian efforts to the earthquake victims of Nicaragua would crash. There were no survivors. Puerto Rico would hold three days of national mourning.

Roberto Clemente’s Bat Sources

There is a fascinatingly long story about the bat Clemente used for his 3,000th hit. An ESPN writer gives his first-hand account here. PSA bat facts is helpful. Check out Gold In Auction’s Clemente bat auction too. Mears Auction house has some decent sizing information dates. VSA Auctions on Clemente’s bat was used. You can read some of the details of Clemente’s plane crash in this New York Time’s Piece.