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Thursday, November 22, 2012

Perry: Happy ‘Roberto Clemente becomes a Pirate’ Day

Minority Report: PostCrime.

In early 1954, legendary Dodgers scout Al Campanis signed young Roberto Clemente after seeing him play in Puerto Rico. Because Clemente was signed to a somewhat pricey contract by the standards of the era, he fell under the “bonus baby” rules that mandated he be placed on the major-league roster. But the Dodgers didn’t do that.

Instead, they dispatched Clemente to the Montreal Royals of the Triple-A International League (Jackie Robinson’s former minor-league team) in time for the ‘54 season. In part, the Dodgers made that critical decision because some higher-ups feared that the Brooklyn roster already had enough minority players on it. So in an effort to pacify those unfortunate elements, they exposed Clemente to the Rule 5 draft.

In Montreal, the 19-year-old Clemente batted just .257/.286/.372, but his tools and underlying skills were readily apparent. The Dodgers remained extremely bullish on Clemente, but they surely hoped—in error, it turned out—that he would escape the roving eyes of other clubs.

Dodgers operator Buzzie Bavasi even beseeched his old boss, Branch Rickey, who was by then helming the Pirates, to take anyone except Clemente with the top pick. Eventually, though, Rickey settled on Clemente, and his relationship with Bavasi was forever compromised.

Repoz Posted: November 22, 2012 at 03:24 PM | 8 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: dodgers, history, pirates

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   1. bobm Posted: November 22, 2012 at 07:33 PM (#4308170)
Another "Great Moment in Baseball Credulity" to commemorate after hearing Buehrle's recent whining:

Roberto Clemente
This article was written by Stew Thornley...

By the end of the 1954 season, it had become clear to Bavasi and the rest of the Brooklyn organization that other teams were interested in Clemente. However, Bavasi said he still wasn't ready to give up. The Pirates, by having the worst record in the majors in 1954, had the first pick in the November draft. If Bavasi could get the Pirates to draft a different player off the Montreal roster, Clemente would remain with the Dodgers organization. Each minor league team could lose only one player.

Bavasi said he went to Branch Rickey, who had run the Dodgers before going to Pittsburgh. After Bavasi declined Rickey's offer to join him in Pittsburgh, Bavasi said, Rickey told him that, "Should I need help at anytime, all I had to do was pick up the phone." Bavasi said he used this offer to get Rickey to agree draft a different player, pitcher John Rutherford, off the Royals' roster. However, Bavasi was dismayed to learn two days later that the deal was off and that the Pirates were going to draft Clemente. "It seemed that [Dodgers owner] Walter O'Malley and Mr. Rickey got in another argument and it seems Walter called Mr. Rickey every name in the book," explained Bavasi. "Thus, we lost Roberto."

   2. Meatwad wont hit were you tell him Posted: November 22, 2012 at 10:59 PM (#4308188)
Is this the best rule 5 pick ever?
   3. Sunday silence Posted: November 23, 2012 at 01:13 AM (#4308217)
I dont understand the quoted part. It was "mandated" that he be put on a MLB roster but the Dodgers didnt do that? WTF? How can they not do that if it was mandated? Explanation please?
   4. bobm Posted: November 23, 2012 at 01:59 AM (#4308222)
[3] from the link in [2]

On February 19, 1954, Clemente signed a contract with the Dodgers, who had to make a decision on what to do with him. The Dodgers had signed him for a reported salary of $5,000 as well as a bonus of $10,000. [13] Rules of the time required a team signing a player for a bonus and salary of more than $4,000 to keep him on the major league roster for two years or risk losing him in the off-season draft. [14] Many bonus players of this period were kept at the major league level, pining on the bench for two years rather than developing in the minors. The Dodgers chose to have Clemente spend the 1954 season with the Montreal Royals in the International League, even though it meant they might lose him at the end of the season.
   5. Rennie's Tenet Posted: November 23, 2012 at 01:16 PM (#4308381)
Weren't the Dodgers taking a calculated risk here, in that they knew they'd exposing Clemente to the draft when they signed him, but they'd rather see him get drafted by a bottom dweller than get signed by a strong team (especially the Giants)?

   6. Ron J2 Posted: November 23, 2012 at 03:11 PM (#4308438)
#5 They were also gambling they could sort of hide him. They played him at a higher level than they thought he was ready for and he certainly didn't look anything special.

Yeah, the flip side of that is that he was 19, playing for a strong AAA team and didn't completely disgrace himself (and anybody could see his defensive tools)
   7. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: November 23, 2012 at 03:37 PM (#4308447)
"But I don't wanna be a pirate!"
   8. Meatwad wont hit were you tell him Posted: November 23, 2012 at 03:53 PM (#4308450)
Sadly when drafted he thought he was going to be a pilot. If only he was hard of hearing.

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