Roberto Clemente stands proudly on second base, his eyes closed, his face soaking up the sun.
It’s Oct. 9, 1972 and the Pittsburgh Pirates great has just doubled in a playoff game against the Cincinnati Reds. Less than three months later, Clemente died in a tragic plane crash while traveling to Nicaragua to deliver earthquake relief supplies.
Noted sports artist Graig Kreindler captured the moment in a beautiful painting titled “Proud as a Peacock.” Kreindler and Love of the Game Auctions have partnered to honor Clemente by auctioning off the 30-by-20 painting to support UnidosUS, the nation’s largest Hispanic civil rights and advocacy organization.
Bidding opened this week at $5,000 and is expected to attract a five-figure price in the auction that closes April 2.
Formerly known as NCLR (National Council of La Raza), UnidosUS advocates for progressive public policy changes — including immigration reform, a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants and reduced deportations — through its research, advocacy programs and an affiliate network of nearly 300 community-based organizations across the United States and Puerto Rico.
“We can’t think of a better way to honor Roberto Clemente on the 50th anniversary of his death than to support an organization dedicated to the Latinx community,” LOTG auction director said Al Crisafulli said. “Graig is an incredible visual historian, and his work chronicles the game of baseball with reverence. His are among the most beautiful pieces of sports art ever created. It’s always an honor to auction his highly sought-after paintings.”
Crisafulli says news about the Clemente offering was met with great enthusiasm by LOTG consignors, resulting in nearly 50 additional Clemente-related lots in the company’s Spring 2022 auction. Among the highlights is the star’s rookie card graded PSA 8.
“This is a can’t-miss auction for the hobby’s Roberto Clemente collectors and art lovers alike,” Crisafulli said. “We anticipate that bidding will be strong across the board.”
Kreindler’s sports art has been featured in museums and publications across the United States. For the Brooklyn native, no other sport embodies the relationship between generations and the sense of community like baseball.
“I’ve been in love with the photograph this painting is based on ever since I first laid eyes on it,” Kreindler said in a release from LOTG. “There’s simply something regal about the way Roberto stands there, basking in the warm sun like that. I see it in my mind’s eye whenever his name is conjured up.
“To me, it’s one of those rare images that transcends sport, especially knowing the quality of Roberto’s character and his commitment to humanitarian causes. And it’s because of that I want 100 percent of the proceeds from the auction of this artwork to go to UnidosUS, an organization for which I believe he would have had a deep affinity.”
Founded in 2012 by longtime hobbyist Crisafulli, Love of the Game is a Kingston, N.Y.-based internet sports auction house specializing in sports memorabilia and cards with an emphasis on pre-World War II material. It has three major auctions a year, as well as specialty sales, and had its three largest auctions in 2021. LOTG is currently accepting consignments for its Summer 2022 sale to be held in August. For information, visit loveofthegameauctions.com.
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