Pitching by Mail

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.

Some recreational baseball players studied the game by mail.

Theodore "Ted" Kennedy pitched in the major leagues before a shoulder injury forced him into early retirement.

He later sold baseball gloves and baseball lessons through the mail.

Let's take a closer look.

These circa 1905 Ted Kennedy advertising cuts tout lessons by mail in his famous curving ball and three different styles of spitball all offered according to natural and scientific methods.

Lessons sold for up to one dollar each in 1907 with a full professional course costing ten dollars, the equivalent of about 200 dollars in today's money.

This is Kennedy's lesson number four which contains diagrams and instructions for his  drop ball, a kind of curveball.

A note at the bottom promises that the next lesson will be for the McGinnity Raise, an underhanded fastball  named for pitcher Joe McGinnity of the Baltimore Orioles and New York Giants.

Practice five days and report to me, Kennedy says in his lesson.

This pre-addressed envelope was probably intended for customers to send in their progress reports.

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