By Anthony McClean, Editor In Chief Emeritus NEW HAVEN (BASN) —...
African-American Baseball Stars Featured In New Commemorative Series
The new stamps are available at post offices nationwide and are theculmination of a diligent, collaborative effort between Major League Baseball and the Postal Service.
“With the Legends of Baseball stamps, we’re bringing together two American traditions that have universal reach and appeal. Just as the Postal Service delivers mail to every American, everywhere, every day, baseball is played by children and adults in virtually every village, town and hamlet,” said S. David Fineman, member of the Postal Service Board of Governors, who dedicated the stamps.
The series is the first-ever collection dedicated entirely to one sport, according to Kathy Francis, Vice President of Marketing, Major League Baseball.
“For the first time in the history of Major League Baseball, or any other professional sports league, the Postal Service has honored a sport by dedicating an entire set of stamps to our national pastime and its players,” said Francis.
In addition to the Black stars, the 33-cent stamps feature Ty Cobb, Dizzy Dean, Mickey Cochrane, Eddie Collins, Jimmie Foxx, Lou Gehrig, Rogers Hornsby, Walter Johnson, Christy Mathewson, Babe Ruth, George Sisler, Tris Speaker and Pie Traynor. Each member of the series was honored last season as part of Major League Baseball’s “All-Century Team” program.
Joining Fineman and Francis at the “first day of issue” ceremony was Hank Aaron, a member of both the Baseball Hall of Fame and the Major League Baseball All-Century Team. Aaron, baseball’s home run king (755), is a vice president of the Atlanta Braves. In addition to his Braves duties, he heads the “Hank Aaron Chasing the Dream Foundation,” which, through its awards program, provides financial assistance to help young people with limited opportunitiespursue their dreams.
Aaron played for the Indianapolis Clowns of the Negro American League, then the Milwaukee Braves and Atlanta Braves of the Major League Baseball National League. Aaron hit more than .300 14 times, winning batting titles in 1956 and 1959, when he set a career high with a .355 average. He led the National League in home runs four times, and while he never hit more than 50 homers in a season, his power and runs-batted-in production were extremely consistent. He broke Babe Ruth’s home run record in 1974.
Jackie Robinson broke the Major League Baseball color barrier when he came to the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947. Two years later, he hit a league-leading .342, drove in 124 runs, and was voted the Most Valuable Player in the National League. Robinson played for the Kansas City Monarchs.
Josh Gibson was among the biggest draws in the Negro Leagues. He played for the Homestead Grays and the Pittsburgh Crawfords. The popular Gibson is generally considered one of the most prodigious power hitters in the history of professional baseball. He is reported to have hit 962 home runs in his 17-year career.
Roberto Clemente was the first Afro-Hispanic elected to the Hall of Fame. Clemente was admired for his superb hitting, rifle-like arm, and philanthropic spirit. He helped the Pittsburgh Pirates win two WorldChampionships.
A total of 225 million Legends of Baseball stamps were printed. The collection artist is Joseph Saffold of Savannah, Ga. Phil Jordan, of Falls Church, Va., was the art director. To order the Legends of Baseball stamps, visit www.stampsonline.com . Stamps can also be ordered toll-free by calling 1 800 STAMP-24.
Stamps courtesy of the U.S. Postal Service