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.
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.
Yankee Stadium has hosted more World Series games than any other ballpark and was the setting for several of the great moments covered by this exhibition, including Lou Gehrig's 1939 retirement and Roger Maris' breaking Babe Ruth's home run record in 1961.
Smithsonian Books author Stephen Wong, who also serves as honorary advisor and a major lender to Baseball: America's Home Run, has a closer look.
When we think of Yankee Stadium what do we think of?
Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle, Roger Maris, Thurman Munson, Reggie Jackson, some of the greatest legends who ever played the game.
Rarely do we take time to actually pontificate and think about and reflect the actual experience of sitting in Yankee Stadium from the 1920s all the way through the modern day.
Imagine you driving your car and your family in the 1930s, the 40s, or 50s, or the 60s, parking the car in the parking lot of Yankee Stadium with your family, walking out towards the entrance.
Have your ticket in hand, and there you look at the facade of the building and you see this Yankee terracotta balcony panel which was placed on there, on the original old Yankee Stadium in 1923 and lasted all the way until the old Yankee Stadium was torn down in 1973.
This terracotta piece was there and imagine the generations of fans current and past with their kids, with their grand-kids, walking through the entrance, seeing that terracotta piece, and the experience that they had subsequent to that while arriving in the ballpark and watching the greats of those particular generations play on the field against their American League rivals.
Yankee Stadium ticket collection box from the 1950s to the 1970s, again what baffles me about this particular piece< is the fact that it housed millions of tickets.
During that time frame of about 30 years of it being in use, 30 to 40 years of being in use, imagine the fans who walked in the ballpark and the ticket usher who held that particular collection box, collected the tickets from all these fans during the 50s, 60s, and 70s as they were going to go see the likes of Mickey Mantle, of Hank Bauer, Phil Rizzuto, Yogi Berra, and Billy Martin, oftentimes playing in the World Series against their crosstown rivals, the New York Giants or the Brooklyn Dodgers.
The fact that this ticket collection box still exists, let alone with the terracotta piece is an amazement.
Last but not least is the Yankee Stadium hot dog vending basket that was used in the 1930s and the 40s.
This perhaps is one of my personal favorite pieces in the whole exhibition.
This comes from Harry M. Stevens Family Estate.
Harry M. Stevens was the inventor of the scorecard, okay.
And not only that, he owned a concession company that supplied all the concessions to Yankee Stadium as well as many ball clubs and their stadiums around around the United States during throughout most of the 20th century.
And this particular vending box that was used in the 30s and 40s, imagine a hot dog vending Yankee Stadium employee walking through the aisles yelling Red Hots!, get your Red Hots here!
That was the basket that he was carrying.
And the hot dogs were actually housed in that particular basket.
And you can see the stainless steel condiments compartments that are affixed to the basket that held the ketchup, the mustard, the relish, the onions.
This to me symbolizes the essence of not only the ballpark experience as we've known in the 40s, and the 50s, and the 60s.
Many hot dog companies had supplied hot dogs to Yankee Stadium such as Sabrett.
And back in the old days there's many other companies that had the attribution to hot dogs and this, the fact that the vending basket still exists is quite an incredible amazement.
The original Yankee Stadium's last game was played in 2008, and by 2010 it was gone, replaced by a new facility built just across the street.
It was commemorated by a stamp and postal card in the Legendary Playing Fields issue of 2001.
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