Baseball Heroes Still Competing

On July 20, 2012 in Cooperstown, NY, the U.S. Postal Service issued four self-adhesive Forever Stamps of Major League Baseball All-Stars. Willie Stargell, Ted Williams, Joe DiMaggio, and Larry Doby are the celebrated athletes. The stamps, based on historic photographs, were created by artist-illustrator Kadir Nelson of Los Angeles. Phil Jordan of Falls Church, VA, was the art director. The stamps were introduced at the Baseball Hall of Fame induction ceremonies.

In order to create even more excitement about the stamps, the Postal Service held a competition called Stamps Batted In to see which of the four stamps would get the most pre-orders. Pre-orders for more than two million stamps were batted in. Never before had the public ordered as many stamps prior to their introduction.

The old rivalry between Ted Williams and Joe DiMaggio was resurrected in this contest. They ran neck and neck until close to the end when DiMaggio inched ahead. The final numbers were; DiMaggio, 421,266; Williams, 417,066; Stargell, 340,646; and, Doby with 332,566.

The postmark design on the first day covers shows a silhouette of a player hitting a ball out of the park.

The digital color postmark on the first day covers shows two crossed bats and a baseball.

A quick look at the achievements of these four stars shows why they are so beloved by sports fans and why their stamps sold so well.

Joe DiMaggio (1914-1999) nicknamed “Joltin’ Joe” and “The Yankee Clipper,” began his baseball career as a kid when he played in the Boys Club League in North Beach, San Francisco. He joined the Yankees in 1936 and his amazing 56-game hitting streak in 1941 helped to make him a legend. DiMaggio led the New York Yankees to ten pennants and nine World Series titles. His marriage to Marilyn Monroe after he retired from baseball added an additional dimension to his image. DiMagio was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame July 25, 1955.

Larry Doby (1923-2003) was the first African-American to play in the American League, and the second (after Jackie Robinson) in major league baseball. He played for the Newark Eagles in the Negro Leagues and in 1946 helped his team win the Negro League World Series. He served in the Navy during WWII and in 1947 joined the Cleveland Indians. He was selected All-Star seven times and set an American League outfielder record for 164 consecutive errorless games. Doby was elected into the Hall of Fame on March 3, 1998, at the age of 73.

Willie Stargell (1940-2001) was the oldest player to earn the Most Valuable Player award when he was selected at age 39 in 1979. A left handed batter, he hit 475 home runs in his career and helped power the Pittsburgh Pirates to World Series championships in 1971 and 1979. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1987.

Ted Williams (1918-2002) who played left field for the Boston Red Sox, was a two-time American League Most Valuable Player. He was the last Major League player to bat over .400 for a single season. In 1941, Williams won six American League batting titles and four home run titles. During World War II he served as a naval aviator. During the Korean War he was John Glenn’s wingman. In his career, Williams hit 521 home runs. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1966.

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