On April 10, 1968 – At the Astrodome – Roberto Clemente’s opening day optical illusion goes for naught as Pittsburgh’s newly acquired answer to its pitching problem, Jim Bunning, fresh off his career year with Philadelphia, provides an unwelcome harbinger of what will be a very trying season and, in so doing, marks the beginning of the distinctly mediocre final phase of his Hall of Fame career. But it’s just another day at the office for Clemente, as he provides one of those signature moments when, as Frank Robinson recalls, “You’d watch him and find yourself saying to the guy next to you, ‘Did you see that?'” Unfortunately, Bunning, Juan Pizarro and Ron Kline combine to squander Pittsburgh’s 4 – 2 advantage in the final frame, thus leaving Clemente’s magical moment (and his 3rd-inning, tie-breaking homer) somewhat adrift: “Rookie Hal King couldn’t believe Roberto Clemente caught his long fly down the right field line for the third out in the 2nd inning,” writes Les Biederman in the Pittsburgh Press. “King had just turned second base when he heard the crowd groan and saw the Pirates running off the field. He stopped, gave a bewildered look and kept glancing down the right field line to see how it was possible.” The Astros beat the Pirates 5-4 on a Bob Aspromonte two out, 2 run triple in the bottom of the ninth off Kline.
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