The Exhibition

Baseball: America's Home Run logo

This virtual exhibition includes a sampling of objects and stories that are part of the Baseball: America’s Home Run / Béisbol: el Jonrón de los EE.UU. physical exhibition at the National Postal Museum. In the coming months, we will be expanding this virtual exhibition to include more of the fascinating objects and stories that are on display at the National Postal Museum.

 

Baseball jersey with Mesoamerican-inspired team name, 1930s–1950s

Modern baseball emerged in the northeastern United States during the 1830s and ‘40s but did not become widespread until after the Civil War. As the nation absorbed millions of immigrants and asserted a prominent role in international affairs at the turn of the twentieth century, baseball’s promoters started describing the game as the “national pastime.”

Postmaster General James Farley watches baseball centennial stamps come off the press

Major League Baseball commemorated two mythical centennials in the twentieth century. The first, in 1939, marked one hundred years since the sport's purported invention at Cooperstown, New York. The second, in 1969, was billed as the "Centennial of Professional Baseball," even though individual players were paid long before baseball's first salaried team took the field in 1869.

YMCA postcard with an illustration of Servicemen playing baseball

As the forty-hour work week became standard, urban laborers joined company baseball teams. By 1927 there were hundreds of these baseball clubs in the United States, making it the most popular form of outdoor industrial recreation.

Women's Softball Summer Olympic Games postage stamp featuring a woman wearing softball gear

The distinctly White, male, and rural image cultivated by baseball in the nineteenth century was used to justify the exclusion of those to whom the game did not "belong," especially women and African Americans.

First Colored World Series Opening Game, Kansas City, Missouri, October 11, 1924 featuring players with fans in the background

By 1890 Black players were excluded from professional baseball by agreement among White team owners. African Americans and Latino Americans instead found playing opportunities in the various Negro Leagues, as well as in Mexico, Cuba, and the Caribbean.

Jackie Robinson speaking to reporters in Birmingham, Alabama, May 14, 1963

Fans and amateur players alike used the mail to express admiration for their favorite players, complain about management decisions, or even learn how to play the game.

Legendary Playing Fields press sheet featuring 160 postage stamps of 10 different baseball stadiums

Issued by the U.S. Postal Service in 2001, the Legendary Playing Fields stamps speak to the sense of community that fans derive from a favorite baseball park.

Roberto Clemente lobby poster featuring a postage stamp and a baseball

Here, for the first time, original stamp art and production material from the USPS Postmaster General’s Collection is paired with actual game-used artifacts as a powerful visual reminder that these players— whom most of us know only from photographs and old footage—were once flesh and blood.

World Series Rivals (Celebrate the Century Series) approved stamp art featuring pins and Ebbets Field stadium in the background

Celebrate the Century was a series of 150 U.S. postage stamps issued between 1998 and 2000. Each decade of the twentieth century was represented by a sheet of fifteen stamps featuring major events that influenced American history, art, or culture.

sixteen round "Have A Ball!" postage stamps featuring eight different sports balls

Postal authorities all over the world market baseball stamps and postal items, and baseball souvenirs resembling postage stamps, complete with collecting albums, were commonly published in the twentieth century.