On September 14, 1972 — 1972 – Roberto Clemente’s batting practice moon shot again comes close to Wrigley Field’s scoreboard. Bart Ripp, writing in Sport Magazine, recalls Clemente’s confrontation with 6′ 7″ Jim McKee, a young, fireballing, Pirate pitching prospect who has just made Richie Hebner, Al Oliver and Willie Stargell look foolish: “Clemente dusted his hands, then took his usual righthanded stance deep in the box, as far from the plate as possible. Standing still, Clemente heard the first pitch go by, then primly stuck his bat out over the plate at the next three. Each time, the ball hit the club, then pirouetted to the grass, just fair, and there they stuck as if they had landed in wet cement. Roberto then took three swings, but did not move his legs or hips, just the arms and wrists – he was merely getting his eye in. The result was three line drives – to left, to center, to right. All base hits in any game. Clemente slowly hauled out his familiar swing: the front leg lifted and cocked to the catcher, his torso leaping at the ball, the swing ending with his back foot hanging in the air. He proceeded to undress the rookie, smacking severe line drives all over old Wrigley Field. Not paying any respect to a god, Hebner shouted taunting encouragement to Clemente, ‘Come on, take one more swing.’ Clemente motioned to the pitcher, wiping the side of his hand across the letters of his uniform. McKee put it right there, right on the outside corner, and Clemente swung once more. The ball nearly tipped the button of McKee’s cap, then once past second began to rise on a straight line. It was still rising when it struck the bleachers just below the scoreboard, 500 feet away. The people around the cage surveyed the landing site for a few seconds, then closed their mouths and looked back into the cage. It was empty, as Clemente walked back to the dugout, rolling his head about to relieve a crick in his neck.”

 


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Sources:
Baseball Reference September 14
National Pastime
Retro Sheet
Hall of Fame
SABR Games Project
Replay The Game