Sports stamps celebrate athletic excellence and popular pastimes. Individuals, including coaches, are honored for their athletic achievements and their dedication to personal excellence: records set, bars raised, and fans awed. Many of those who appear on stamps have also inspired us off the playing field. Lou Gehrig, for example, showed great bravery and dignity in the face of personal adversity. Satchel Paige and other African-American athletes were trailblazers for diversity in various sports. Wilma Rudolph and Roberto Clemente encouraged and mentored children and young athletes.

In this gallery, artist Joseph Saffold’s highly-detailed action portraits of Clemente, Gehrig, and Paige depict each National Baseball Hall of Famer as close to the zenith of his career as possible. Saffold also paid special attention to the uniform designs, as teams periodically changed their look from one season to the next. Saffold used acrylics, colored pencils, and occasionally oils to give the look and feel of cloth, particularly the folds in the uniforms. Saffold commented that loose, baggy pants made for better paintings.
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Smithsonian Institution
National Postal Museum
United States Postal Service
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