The Smithsonian’s National Postal Museum will open baseball
WASHINGTON, March 22, 2022 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — The National Postal Museum’s “Baseball: America’s Home Run” exhibit explores America’s national pastime through the unique lens of stamps and mail. Running Saturday, April 9 through January 5, 2025, it invites visitors to explore exciting and memorable stories about how the game of baseball became an integral part of American history and lore.
Featuring hundreds of U.S. and international stamps commemorating great players and historic moments, and drawing on original artwork and archival material from the U.S. Postal Service’s prestigious Postmaster General Collection, the exhibit addresses baseball history from a unique, global perspective.
The stamp and mail exhibit will be supplemented by dozens of items on loan from other Smithsonian museums, the National Baseball Hall of Fame, law enforcement and renowned private collections that have never been displayed. to the public. These rare artifacts, exclusively shared with the public as part of the exhibit, feature a treasure trove of uniforms, jackets and hats, bats and memorabilia from the American pastime.
The exhibit pays homage to many of the game’s greatest legends, including Jackie Robinson, Roberto Clemente, Babe Ruth, Ty Cobb, Lefty Grove, Lou Gehrig and countless others. Of more than 60 baseball stamps issued by the United States since 1939, the vast majority commemorate individual players. Many of these postal portraits feature specially commissioned artwork designed to mimic the look and feel of classic baseball cards and remember the players whose accomplishments on and off the field have made them household names. On display for the first time, original stamps and production material from the Postmaster General’s collection are paired with real-life artifacts used in-game as a visual reminder that these players, whom most know only from photographs and old images, were once flesh and blood. some blood.
The lives and careers of some of baseball’s greatest players, including those in the black leagues, are examined through the postage stamps that tell their stories. For a number of stamps, the museum is able to show the original artwork commissioned by the U.S. Postal Service, depicting various actors as well as the uniforms they wore in the artwork, such as the uniform of route of Jackie Robinson from the 1948 season. Uniforms and bats used in the game of Babe Ruth, Joe DiMaggio and other great players of the 20th century will be on display.
These tributes are especially meaningful on the 75th anniversary of Robinson’s call to the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947 as Major League Baseball’s first African-American player and the 50th anniversary of Clemente’s death (1934-1972 ), born in Puerto Rico and played 18 years. seasons in right field for the Pittsburgh Pirates.
“We are proud to have the institution-wide cooperation of the Smithsonian, the participation of the largest organizations dedicated to the sport of baseball, and the support of corporations and private collectors who love the game,” said Elliot Gruber. , director of the museum. “I would especially like to thank the main sponsors of the exhibit – the Washington Nationals Ball Club, Heritage Auctions, Milwaukee Tool, the National Postal Museum Society, Ricos Products Co. and Smithsonian-published author Stephen Tsi Chuen Wong who serves also as Honorary Advisor to the exhibition, for their generous support.
The exhibit will be presented in English and Spanish through a collaboration with the Smithsonian Latino Center, creating broad appeal for stamp and memorabilia collectors, family audiences and baseball fans.
“The exhibit examines the mythologies of the game of baseball and the role that postage stamps have played in the creation and application of that mythology,” said Daniel Piazza, the museum’s chief curator. “We tell some of the lesser-known stories about the game of baseball through stamps and mail and explore fascinating details about the game in new and unique ways.”
Special exhibit themes examine the game of baseball:
“Creating Baseball” examines early American baseball-themed stamps and the myths they reflect about the sport’s origins. The Centennial of Baseball stamp gave tacit federal recognition to the now discredited claim that Abner Doubleday invented baseball in 1839 in Cooperstown, New York. Similarly, a 1969 stamp honoring Anna “Grandma” Moses shows “July Fourth,” her painting of a small-town baseball game on Independence Day, reinforcing misconceptions about the sport’s rural American origins. , when it was actually a big city game. which evolved from British antecedents.
“We all play ball” examines the global spread of baseball in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. With modest equipment requirements, baseball was played by American soldiers on military posts around the world and quickly adopted by the local population. International baseball stamps will be supplemented with memorabilia and military equipment. Watching and playing baseball helped Irish, Italians, Jews, Poles, and other immigrant groups break down ethnic walls and show their determination to integrate into American communities. Europeans learned baseball in this country, but most Latino immigrants already knew the game and played it, making it one of the fastest growing audiences in baseball and representing more than 25% of professional baseball players.
“The Negro Leagues” is inspired by American Poet Laureate Donald Hall, who described a passion for baseball as “a kind of citizenship perhaps more genuine than anything on a piece of paper”. However, African Americans were denied the opportunity to play Major League Baseball until 1947, so they formed their own professional leagues and teams, reaffirming their Americanness to a country that refused to recognize their equality.
“Legendary Playgrounds” explores the sense of community that comes with the familiar surroundings of a favorite baseball park, whether it’s a classic stadium like Wrigley Field in Chicago or a newer cathedral green like Washington’s Nationals Park , DC. In the early years, stadiums were usually built on undesirable land in the worst parts of town. One of Washington’s first baseball fields, Capitol Park, was located in an underdeveloped Irish working-class neighborhood nicknamed Swampoodle for the tendency of its unpaved streets to flood. Coincidentally, this plot of land now houses the National Postal Museum. “Baseball: America’s Home Run” explores the history of Capitol Park and other parks, including production materials for the 2001 U.S. Postal Service stamp, Baseball’s Legendary Playing Field Issue, paired with signs, seating, architectural elements and other stadia artifacts depicted on the stamps.
A special website makes available the stories, themes and historical artifacts featured in the exhibit, and it provides multimedia narratives by some of the most important organizations and people associated with the game of baseball. Schedules and information regarding public programming and events associated with the exhibition are also described, providing visitor experiences both on-site and online.
About the Smithsonian’s National Postal Museum
The National Postal Museum is dedicated to showcasing the colorful and captivating history of the national postal service and displaying one of the largest and most comprehensive collections of stamps and philatelic material in the world. It is located at 2 Massachusetts Ave. NE, Washington, DC, across from Union Station. The museum is currently open Friday through Tuesday, 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. For information about the Smithsonian, call (202) 633-1000.
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