Legends of Baseball

Chief curator Daniel Piazza shares intimate knowledge, little-known facts and secrets about the stories told in “Baseball: America’s Home Run,” highlighting some of the spectacular objects on display, including discussions with key lenders to the exhibition on artifacts never-before displayed for pubic view.

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I'm Dan Piazza, curator of the National Postal Museum exhibition, Baseball: America's Home Run on view until January 2025.

Join me for an inside look at some of the most exciting objects from this blockbuster show that explores America's national pastime through stamps, mail, and memorabilia.

The Legends of Baseball stamp sheet issued in 2000 presented a significant challenge, how to depict 20 different ball players all wearing different uniforms and in different poses in a way that's still held together as a cohesive design.

U.S. Postal Service art directors and illustrators went for a vintage look modeling the stamps after historic baseball cards.

Let's take a closer look.

Crackerjack, a sticky coated popcorn and peanut candy was introduced in 1896.

The brand already forever linked to baseball by Jack Norworth's 1908 song, Take Me Out to the Ball Game, offered baseball card prizes in 1914 and 1915.

As a publicity stunt, the Goudey Gum Company intentionally omitted card number 106 from its 1933 set.

Anyone who wrote to complain received the missing Napoleon "Nap" Lajoie card by mail.

The entire set and the Goudey Lajoie especially have become icons of the baseball card hobby.

The influence of the classic Cracker Jack and  Goudey Gum baseball card sets is clearly seen in Joe Saffold's artwork for the 2000 Legends of Baseball Series.

The rich, retro-colored backgrounds star players shown in action poses and even the text set in a banner along the bottom of the stamps were all inspired by some of the most famous early baseball card designs.

For more on the intersection of postal and baseball history visit the National Postal Museum exhibition, Baseball: America's Home Run online at postalmuseum.si.edu/baseball

Baseball: America’s Home Run