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Clemente family upset by auction of plane pieces
Published June 5, 2005
NEW YORK - There are 48 Roberto Clemente -related memorabilia items in an auction being conducted by Leland's, among them signed baseballs and photos, a handwritten letter, a game-worn cap, a business card and a coin set.
But two items stand out for their historic, if gruesome, significance: pieces of the prop plane that Clemente died in when it crashed into the Caribbean after takeoff from San Juan, Puerto Rico, on Dec.31, 1972. The DC-7 was loaded with supplies to help the survivors of an earthquake in Nicaragua.
One is a light metal piece measuring 19 inches by 14 inches at its largest point, with a minimum auction price of $1,500. The second is the gray steel propeller, 14 inches across and 79 inches long, with a minimum price of $1,000. The former has been bid up to $1,650, the latter to $1,210. The auction is scheduled to conclude June 24.
Clemente's son, Roberto Jr. , wants them removed from the sale.
"It's disgusting," Clemente said by telephone Saturday after his radio show. "It's a shame that something so sacred to my family would go on the market like this. It's ridiculous. It has nothing to do with baseball. He's a human being. He lost his life. There's nothing funny about that."
He said he would discuss the possibility of taking legal action with his mother, Vera , and brother, Luis . Joshua Leland Evans , chairman and founder of the auction house, did not return messages seeking comment.
BLUE JAYS: Manager John Gibbons remained at the team hotel in San Francisco to seek treatment for flulike symptoms. Bench coach Ernie Whitt assumed managerial duties.
BRAVES: Left-hander Mike Hampton returned to the 15-day disabled list with tightness in his left forearm, five days after he lasted only four innings in his first start since missing more than two weeks with the same problem. Hampton will miss his scheduled start today against the Pirates. Right-hander Seth Greisinger likely will be called up from Triple-A Richmond. Third baseman Chipper Jones also was out of the lineup after playing Friday night with a jammed heel.
INDIANS: Hall of Famer Eddie Murray was fired as hitting coach, and Robby Thompson was hired as interim bench coach.
PADRES: Jake Peavy will miss today's scheduled start against the Cubs because of an upper respiratory infection.
ROCKIES: Starting right-hander Shawn Chacon (strained left hamstring) was placed on the 15-day disabled list.
ROYALS: Left-hander Jeremy Affeldt was activated from the disabled list, but he will not return to his closing role. Manager Buddy Bell said Mike MacDougal , 3-for-3 in save situations since Tuesday, would remain his closer.
YANKEES: Shortstop Derek Jeter was given the night off because of a bad cold. Manager Joe Torre said Jeter, who has three hits in his last 21 at-bats, hasn't been the same this week because of his sickness - originally thought to be allergies.