On February 19 1954 — 19-year-old Roberto Clemente signs with the Brooklyn Dodgers for one year at $5,000 with a $10,000 signing bonus. The Dodgers thus beat out a number of other clubs in the Clemente sweepstakes. They’ve outspent the prior two entrants, their cross-river rivals in Manhattan and the Bronx, and simply beaten the Milwaukee Braves to the punch. By far the biggest spenders of the bunch (by all accounts exceeding Brooklyn’s offer by at least 150%), the Braves were just a tad tardy, Clemente having already accepted the Dodgers’ terms. The Dodgers may have won the first battle, but they will lose Clemente’s services in one year when they fail to protect him in the 1954 Rule V Draft.


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