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.
Baseball Follows the Flag
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.
During the Civil War tens of thousands of Americans on both sides of the conflict played baseball.
Hundreds of thousands more watched, helping the game overtake Cricket as the country's favorite sport.
Military play during the Spanish-American War brought baseball to some newly-won territories for the first time and cemented its popularity in others.
During the two World Wars hundreds of major league players served in the armed forces.
Let's take a closer look.
This photo of U.S. Army soldiers playing baseball in France during World War I was turned into a YMCA postcard.
Thousands of copies were distributed free to service members overseas encouraging them to write home.
The YMCA also shipped nearly 250,000 Napoleon Lajoie professional model bats to France for the recreational use of U.S. soldiers in World War I.
Lajoie, a second baseman for Philadelphia and Cleveland, had a batting average that was on par with Honus Wagner and Ty Cobb but he is little remembered today.
More recently baseball has been used by the military to build understanding between U.S. forces and local populations in war zones.
After Afghanistan's totalitarian Taliban regime fell in 2001, American forces introduced baseball to Afghani boys and girls and used this Kettle to serve tea to spectators.
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