Modified on February 16, 2021
In 1952, Topps develops the modern baseball card with a clear and pleasant image and a detailed information on the back side. Further improvement comes in 1955 when the card goes in landscape format, superseding the portrait format which was practiced from the origins and enabling to dispose altogether the player's portrait, his image in action, his signature and the logo of the club.
1955 was the rookie year of two baseball stars, Roberto Clemente and Sandy Koufax. Clemente had just been hired by the Pittsburgh Pirates when he was honored with the Topps 1955-164 card. The Pirates were only the fifth team to break the barrier of color in the National League and the arrival of Clemente, Black and Puerto Rican, was likely to be contested.
The Topps 1955-164 card is extremely rare in very good condition because many copies are not well centered. Only one of them is graded Gem Mint 10 by PSA, meaning a perfect condition in every respect. It was sold for $ 430K including premium by SCP Auctions on May 20, 2012, lot 11.
A card graded Mint 9 by PSA was sold for $ 470K including premium by Goldin in October 2016, lot 21. Another one in the same grade was sold for $ 480K including premium by Heritage on February 20, 2016, lot 80113. and is listed as lot 3 in an online sale by Goldin closing on March 6, 2021.
Roberto Clemente devoted his off-seasons to charity. In December 1972 he participated in sending emergency relief after the Managua earthquake. Fearing that his act was diverted by the Nicaraguan dictatorship, he accompanied the delivery. His plane, possibly too much loaded, disappeared at sea and his body was never found. He was such a great hero that his friends asked for his canonization.
SOLD for $ 1.1M including premium