On February 19, 1954, The Brooklyn Dodgers signed Roberto Clemente to a Minor League contract to play for their Triple A team, the Montreal Royals. Given that Clemente was an outfielder and the Dodgers outfield at the time was loaded, Roberto Clemente’s chances of playing for the Brooklyn Dodgers looked slim.
It didn’t help either that he wasn’t getting a lot of playing time in the Minor Leagues. Some people speculate that the Dodgers were trying to hide him from the Rule 5 draft later that year.
Clyde Sukeforth, a baseball scout for the Pittsburgh Pirates observed that Clemente was being bench and encouraged the Pirates to draft him. On November 22, 1954, the Pittsburgh Pirates selected Roberto Clemente in the Rookie Draft and the rest is history. Roberto Clemente would go on to play his entire baseball career with the Pittsburgh Pirates.
I can only imagine if Clemente would have stayed with the Montreal Royals and promoted to play with the Brooklyn Dodgers. It would have been nice to see Jackie Robinson and Roberto Clemente play on the same field as teammates. WOW, that would have been beautiful!
The picture above is from my Clemente baseball jersey. That is Roberto Clemente in his Montreal Royals uniform. Here is a more detail blog I wrote about Roberto Clemente a couple years ago. Check it out: