1994 Topps Archives 1954 #251 Roberto Clemente (Dodgers)
Let me start off my saying that this is probably my favorite "zero-year" card, as well as one of my favorites in my vast collection.
Roberto Clemente is my all-time favorite player. I've previously dedicated a blog post to him.
This card is a must-have for any Clemente collector. It's a tad pricey (for me anyways) with a $10 book value, but this copy only set me back fifty cents at a card show a few years back. One of my best finds ever.
This 1954 Topps Archives reprint set was issued in 1954, complete with 248 reprints from the '54 Topps set. However, the last eight cards on the checklist are all 1954 prospect cards that were specially made for this '94 release. This Clemente is one of the eight, as his actual rookie card is from 1955 Topps.
Roberto Clemente was originally signed by the Dodgers in 1952. The story goes that the Dodgers tried to prevent other teams from claiming him in the Rule 5 draft by "hiding" him in the minors and not playing him. He played in just 87 games and totaled 155 plate appearances in his only minor league season with Montreal (of the International League) in 1954. Those would be the only minor league games he'd ever play.
The Pirates saw something they liked and snatched him from the Dodgers' grasp in the '54 Rule 5 draft.
The rest is history.