On June 15 1971 – – “If they ever want to rate the 10 greatest catches of all time,” maintains The Sporting News’s correspondent and Pittsburgh Post-Gazette sports editor Charley Feeney, “Roberto Clemente’s fantastic catch of Bob Watson’s line drive in Houston’s Astrodome will have to be among them.” Most of the 16,307 fans give Clemente a standing ovation for his feat, which deprives Watson of a home run in the 8th inning. It would have put the Astros ahead, 2 – 1. Instead, Steve Blass holds on to a 1 – 0 lead and the Bucs will score twice more for a 3 – 0 win. Joe Morgan is on first base with two out when Watson hits his vicious liner toward the right field corner. Clemente, going full speed, races toward the wall and, in one sudden move, makes a twisting leap for a one-handed grab, back to the plate, just before the ball would have hit above the yellow line on the wall, in home run territory. When Clemente comes down, his body hits the wall and he suffers a bruised left ankle and his left elbow also is swollen. Blood spills from a gash on the left knee. Clemente slumps on both knees, back to the infield. The Houston fans stand up and cheer. A second standing ovation will precede Clemente’s at-bat in the top of the 9th. On the preceding play, Clemente made a skidding shoestring catch of Cesar Cedeno’s Texas Leaguer, then threw perfectly to second base while on his knees to prevent Morgan from advancing.

 


 

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