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Take Me Out to the Ballgame!!

The idea of combining our nation’s pastime with the number one hobby in the world is an intriguing prospect.

When yours truly attended his first baseball game as a lad in knee pants, only one baseball stamp had ever been issued by the U.S. Postal Service. That was the 3¢ "Baseball Centennial Issue" of 1939 paying tribute to Abner Doubleday’s accomplishments (Scott #855).

A stamp issued in 1969 commemorating Grandma Moses, shows the famous painting "July 4th" by the artist. You may not have noticed it the first time you took a look at it but it includes a baseball park scene. This paucity of baseball-related stamp issues would remain for several decades until the issuance of Scott #1381 in 1969 that commemorated the "Centennial of Professional Baseball" or, as we recognize it today, the major leagues. The 1980’s saw the release of five individual stamps, each honoring one of the great players of the past. They are Jackie Robinson (1982–Scott #2015), Babe Ruth (1983–Scott #2046), Roberto Clemente (1984–Scott #2097) and Lou Gehrig (1989–Scott #2417). 1984 also saw the release of a Jim Thorpe stamp (Scott #2089). Jim Thorpe, best known for his football and track and field accomplishments, was also a professional baseball player. He played minor and major league baseball for 20 years. In fact he was one of only two men in history who played for the New York Giants in two different sports. In football he was the New York Giants’ running back and in baseball he played outfield for the New York Giants baseball team.

Add to the mix a stamp issued in 1992 to recognize baseball as an Olympic sport and one in 1996 depicting "Mighty Casey at the Bat" (Scott #3083) from a famous news article and we now have ten stamps depicting the grand old game or its players. But this was still not enough to get one overly enthused about starting a "Baseball on Stamps" topical collection.

Then, later in that decade, the floodgates opened. The very first "Celebrate the Century" (hereafter called CTC) souvenir sheet issued in 1998 contained a stamp honoring the first baseball World Series which was played in 1903. Each of the ten CTC souvenir sheets issued over a three year period commemorated noteworthy events of each decade of the 20th century. Later that year two other CTC souvenir sheets had stamps commemorating Babe Ruth and Jim Thorpe.

During 1999, three of the CTC souvenir sheets paid homage to the sport and some of its star players. As part of the 1940’s sheet, Jackie Robinson was honored once again. The 1950’s sheet featured two baseball stamps. One depicted Bobby Thomson’s "Shot Heard Round the World". His dramatic homerun won the 1951 pennant for the New York Giants.

In 1951 the Giants finished the season by winning 37 of their final 45 games to erase a 13-game deficit to the league leading Brooklyn Dodgers. The final day of the season saw both teams deadlocked for first place. The pennant would be decided by a three-game playoff series. The teams split the first two games, setting up an emotional Game 3. The Dodgers held a comfortable 4-1 lead heading into the bottom on the ninth inning and were seemingly headed for the World Series.

But the momentum shifted and those fans in the Polo Grounds that day were witness to one of the greatest moments in any sport. The Giants scored a run in the bottom of the ninth and put two men on base using only one out. Then Bobby Thomson stepped to the plate to face Ralph Branca who had been brought in to relieve a tiring Don Newcombe. Bobby Thomson launched an 0-1 pitch deep into the left field stands to win not only the game but the 1951 baseball pennant and a trip to the World Series. After the celebration, Bobby did what he did after every home game. He headed for the subway, paid his fare, and took the Staten Island Ferry home. Did you know that Bobby Thomson was born in Glasgow, Scotland and that one of his nicknames was "The Flying Scot"?

The other stamp in that 1950’s souvenir sheet drew attention to "World Series Rivals", the New York Yankees and the Brooklyn Dodgers who seemed to be playing for the World Series just about every year. I recall one October day in 1956 when my mother allowed me to stay home from school and watch a Series game on television. It just happened to be the day that Don Larsen hurled his perfect game against the Brooklyn Dodgers. That was when all the World Series games were played in the afternoon.

A stamp in the CTC 1960’s souvenir sheet recognized Roger Maris’ feat of slamming "61 in 61", or 61 homeruns in 1961. The baseball purists, who would not tolerate anyone surpassing the homerun record of their beloved Babe Ruth, insisted that an asterisk be placed in the record books to denote that Roger’s accomplishment came after 162 games as opposed to the 154-game schedule that the Babe played.

A stamp in the 1990’s CTC souvenir sheet issued in 2000 recognized "New Baseball Records". Later in the year a set of four stamps was issued to honor "Youth Team Sports", one of which was youth baseball. Now we are getting somewhere! Enough baseball stamps have been issued already for us to begin thinking about a specialized collection.

But wait just a moment! In July 2000 a sheetlet of 20 stamps was issued portraying the "Legends of Baseball". As if this were not enough, the next year saw the issuance of a souvenir sheet featuring ten "Legendary Playing Fields". Each stamp depicted an old-time baseball stadium, of which only three are hosting baseball games today. Our checklist of all the baseball stamps we are speaking about appears towards the end of this article and will contain the names of these ten stadiums. You should easily be able to identify the three stadiums in question. And, if you are an old-time baseball fan, you should quickly come up with each city in which these stadiums were located.

Wow! That’s a lot of baseball stamps with which to begin a "Baseball on Stamps" topical collection. We’ve mentioned 49 stamps already and many more are sure to come our way in the future. In fact, on July 13, 2006, a set of "Baseball Sluggers" stamps was released at Yankee Stadium. The four stamps honor Roy Campanella, Hank Greenburg, Mickey Mantle and Mel Ott. They were printed in a self-adhesive pane of 20 with decorative border. There was also an accompanying set of picture postal cards sold in a set of 20 cards, five cards of each design in the set.

When you consider adding first day covers and special cancellations to your collection, the possibilities for a very interesting collection are limitless.

You may also want to add some related stamps to the mix. These in some way or another should relate to the sport of baseball. Let’s look at a few examples.

The National Anthem is a staple at ball games. Francis Scott Key, the composer of the "Star Spangled Banner" is commemorated on Scott #962.

How about the Abbott and Costello stamp (Scott #2566) issued in 1991 as one stamp in a strip of five honoring legendary comedians? Do you remember their famous routine, "Who’s on First?".

We could add the Bing Crosby stamp (Scott #2850) to our collection as well. He was a part-owner of the Pittsburgh Pirates for many years.

One of the five stamps in a set drawing attention to "Recreational Sports" features the sport of softball (Scott # 2962).

And, in many baseball parks since 9/11, "God Bless America" is sung at seventh-inning stretch time. The composer, Irving Berlin, and his score for the song, appear on Scott #3669. Now, before you say that Daffy Duck could do a better job of managing your home team, consider that he is shown on Scott #3306.

Now for that checklist we promised.


Scott# Commemorates Year Issued

855 Baseball Centennial 1939

1370 Grandma Moses 1969

1381 Professional Baseball Centennial 1969

2016 Jackie Robinson 1982

2046 Babe Ruth 1983

2089 Jim Thorpe 1984

2097 Roberto Clemente 1984

2417 Lou Gehrig 1989

2619 Olympic Baseball 1992

3083 Mighty Casey at the Bat 1996

3182n First Baseball World Series (1903) 1998

3183g Jim Thorpe 1998

3184a Babe Ruth 1998

3186c Jackie Robinson 1999

3187c Bobby Thomson’s Shot Heard Round the World 1999

3187j World Series Rivals (Yankees and Dodgers) 1999

3188n Roger Maris’ 61 in 61 1999

3191a New Baseball Records 2000

3402 Baseball (as part of a set of four stamps honoring youth team sports)2000

3408 Sheetlet of 20 "Legends of Baseball" (includes Sc.#s3408a-t as follows) 2000

3408a Jackie Robinson

3408b Eddie Collins

3408c Christy Mathewson

3408d Ty Cobb

3408e George Sisler

3408f Rogers Hornsby Scott# Commemorates Year Issued

3408g Mickey Cochrane

3408h Babe Ruth

3408i Walter Johnson

3408j Roberto Clemente

3408k Lefty Grove

3408l Tris Speaker

3408m Cy Young

3408n Jimmie Fox

3408o Pie Traynor

3408p Satchell Paige

3408q Honus Wagner

3408r Josh Gibson

3408s Dizzy Dean

3408t Lou Gehrig

Scott #s 3510-9 were issued in a sheet of 20.

See how many cities you can identify. The answers follow.

3510 Ebbets Field 2001

3511 Tiger Stadium 2001

3512 Crosley Field 2001

3513 Yankee Stadium 2001

3514 Polo Grounds 2001

3515 Forbes Field 2001

3516 Fenway Park 2001

3517 Comiskey Park 2001

3518 Shibe Park (where yours truly witnessed manya game) 2001

3519 Wrigley Field 2001

Now for the answers we promised.

Scott # Location of Stadium 3510 Brooklyn

3514 New York City

3517 Chicago

3511 Detroit

3515 Pittsburgh

3518 Philadelphia

3512 Cincinnati

3516 Boston

3519 Chicago

3513 New York City

The three stadiums still hosting baseball games are Yankee Stadium, Fenway Park and Wrigley Field.

In addition to the July 2006 Baseball Sluggers postal cards, there have been some others issued by the U.S. Postal Service. Included is the booklet of 20 (Scott #UX337-56) cards issued in 2000 as a companion to the Legends of Baseball stamps. With a denomination of 20¢ per card, the booklet of 20 cards was sold by the Postal Service at $8.95, or over twice the face value. Scott #s UX365-74 were issued with the Legendary Playing Fields stamps. These had a denomination of 21¢ and sold for $6.95.

If you wish to derive the optimum pleasure from topical or thematic collecting, please consider joining the American Topical Association. You may contact them at: P.O. Box 57, Arlington, TX 76004-0057; ph. 817-274-1181; email:; website:

The dues are an extremely modest $20 per year for a multitude of benefits. Or save a buck and sign up for two years at $39. Their web site will provide an application and a lengthy list of benefits.

I’ll see you at the ballgame.

Contact's: Peter Mosiondz, Jr.