Willie Stargell Wins Stamps Batted In Pennant Race

Congratulations to the San Francisco Giants for taking the World Series! Fans of Willie Stargell can also celebrate their own victory. They stepped up to the plate in the Stamps Batted In (SBI) pennant race to position the Pittsburgh Pirate icon as the Most Popular Player (MPP) among four icons immortalized on the Major League Baseball All-Stars Forever® stamps, which were issued in the summer.

Prior to their release on July 20, USPS started a friendly pre-order stamp competition among fans of Stargell and the other players commemorated on the stamps: Joe DiMaggio of the New York Yankees, Larry Doby of the Cleveland Indians, and Ted Williams of the Boston Red Sox.

“Fan support of their favorite players was so strong that we decided to continue this friendly competition through the end of the World Series,” Stamp Services Manager Stephen Kearney said, referring to the record 2.29 million stamps pre-ordered. “I encourage fans to continue supporting their favorite player while the stamps are still available.”

To date, more than 32 million Major League Baseball All-Stars stamps have been sold. Three million stamps on sheets of 20 were printed for each individual player in addition to the 80 million stamps on sheets of 20 honoring all four players.

Stamp Pre-Order SBI Regular Season SBI Total SBI
Willie Stargell 540,613 7,679,742 8,220,355
Ted Williams 630,353 7,578,682 8,209,035
Joe DiMaggio 626,553 7,439,302 8,065,855
Larry Doby 500,813 7,343,202 7,844,015
Totals 2,298,332 30,040,928 32,339,260

The perfect keepsake, this 40-page softbound book is filled with vivid paintings and 16 collectible stamps. Click for details.

You can view the July 20 stamps dedication ceremony here, including a tribute from Hall of Famer “Mr. Padre” Tony Gwynn.

A video tribute to the four players is available here. Information on special collectibles can be viewed here. You can purchase the stamps and individual stamp sheets depicting each player along with unique collectibles at www.usps.com/play-ball. The Major League Baseball All-Star Forever stamp collectibles can also be purchased by calling 800-STAMP24 or by visiting select Post Offices.

Major League Baseball trademarks and copyrights are used with permission of Major League Baseball Properties, Inc. Visit MLB.com

Painting Our Pastime: An Interview With Artist Graig Kreindler

Play Ball! A Celebration of Baseball’s Greatest Momentsa 40-page softbound book that showcases stamps honoring our national pastime—is filled with the beautiful paintings of artist Graig Kreindler. Here is his story.

As a boy, Graig Kreindler loved to look at the illustrated portraits of players on his father’s old baseball cards. Poring over the collection, made up of gems from the 1950s, eventually led to a minor epiphany. “You could kind of see,” Kreindler, who grew up in Rockland County, New York, said, “how art and baseball could come together.”

Not that the 32-year-old painter needed a push toward the sport. He was, after all, named after New York Yankees third baseman Graig Nettles. A lifelong baseball fan, Kreindler has spent his adult years depicting the athletes he grew up adoring. His stunning paintings have been displayed nationwide, in museums and books.

In truth, Kreindler didn’t always like to paint. “I was scared of color,” he said. Plus, he added, “I really only enjoyed painting if I was painting something that I had interest in.” Then a college assignment—he attended the School of Visual Arts in Manhattan—fulfilled that requirement. The task was to depict a relationship. “For whatever reason I thought about the relationship between a pitcher and a batter,” he said. He ended up entering the finished product, a vertical painting of Mickey Mantle at bat, in a New York Society of Illustrators competition. At that point, he knew he’d hit on something.

“Anything other than baseball just didn’t feel right,” he said.

Kreindler graduated from college in 2002 and began his professional career. His paintings aren’t merely vague interpretations of baseball scenes. Hours of research precedes each one. “It usually starts with an image,” Kreindler said. “Then I go from there.” Take, for example, the Jackie Robinson painting featured in Play Ball! A Celebration of Baseball’s Greatest Moments. It’s based on a photograph that Kreindler found. The lighting in the picture, he said, was spectacular. “Right away,” he said of the image, of Robinson sliding into home, “I thought this could be a great painting.”

From there, Kreindler gets to work. First, he’ll scour a variety of news sources to help determine when the photo was taken, ideally down to the exact date, game, and even the inning. (Baseball box scores are widely available and contain a wealth of information.) The HBO documentary series When It Was a Game, which made use of color home-movie footage, has been another great resource. Kreindler is a stickler for detail. No element—including uniforms, ballpark advertisements, the weather—is ignored.

“If you show somebody an image, if you show him a photo or a painting of Mickey Mantle, if I’ve done it right, it will transport him to being a kid,” Kreindler said. “I think in general, the best art is able to elicit some sort of emotional response. Baseball just registers with so many people in that way.”

To see more of Kreindler’s work, visit graigkreindler.com.

Righty or Lefty?: Joe DiMaggio Stamp Mystery Solved

We’ve had several inquiries lately about Joe DiMaggio‘s stamp in the recently issued set of Major League Baseball All-Stars stamps. Specifically, collectors and enthusiasts have addressed the depiction of DiMaggio’s swing. So, is DiMaggio’s swing correctly portrayed? The answer is yes, and here’s why:The Yankee Clipper was a right-handed batter, and he is indeed following through on his right-handed swing. However, due to the size of the stamp, you can’t see that his lower torso and legs are twisted as they would be on his follow-through. The stamp artist, Kadir Nelson, also had to slightly change the position of the bat in order to show all of it. If this had been a photograph, you would’ve been able to see that when DiMaggio followed through, his bat was extended fully away from his body and nearly parallel to the ground. (If you’d like to see what we’re describing, check out the photo in this Wall Street Journal article.)

The Major League Baseball All-Stars (Forever®) stamps, as well as many baseball-related philatelic products, are now available. Joining DiMaggio on the roster are Larry Doby, Willie Stargell, and Ted Williams.

Major League Baseball trademarks and copyrights are used with permission of Major League Baseball Properties, Inc.

Ted Williams: Jack of All Trades

Boston Red Sox slugger Ted Williams was known for his prowess at the plate. But his skill set extended well beyond baseball. The accomplished pilot missed much of the 1952 and 1953 seasons so he could fly combat missions during the Korean War. He was also fantastic with a rod and reel. Author Richard Ben Cramer, whose 1986 Esquire story “What Do You Think of Ted Williams Now?” remains one of the best pieces ever written about the Splendid Splinter, best captured Williams’s legendary persona:

Few men try for best ever, and Ted Williams is one of those. There’s a story about him I think of now. This is not about baseball but fishing. He meant to be the best there, too. One day he says to a Boston writer: “Ain’t no one in heaven or earth ever knew more about fishing.”

“Sure there is,” says the scribe.

“Oh, yeah? Who?”

“Well, God made the fish.”

“Yeah, awright,” Ted says. “But you have to go pretty far back.”

The Major League Baseball All-Stars stamps, featuring Williams, are available in Post Offices and online now.

Major League Baseball trademarks and copyrights are used with permission of Major League Baseball Properties, Inc.

Meet Larry Doby’s Biggest Fan: His Son

The 2012 Major League Baseball stamps are on sale now at Post Offices across America and in the USPS online store. We recently caught up with Larry Doby Jr., whose father, Larry Doby, is one of the four players honored on the stamps.

To Larry Doby Jr., seeing his father’s image on a U.S. postage stamp is still surreal.

“It’s kind of overwhelming,” he said. “It’s not something that happens every day or to everybody.”

His dad, Larry Doby, is one of four players who appear on the 2012 Major League Baseball All-Stars issuance. His story may not be known by many baseball fans, but Doby was a pioneer. In the summer of 1947, mere months after Jackie Robinson broke baseball’s color line, Doby became the American League’s first African-American player.

“Without a doubt, his contributions are part of the process that made it possible for others to come behind him,” Doby Jr. said.

The idea of appearing on a stamp pane with Ted Williams and Joe DiMaggio—who were contemporaries—and Willie Stargell, would’ve pleased his father, who died in 2003. “He definitely respected all those guys,” Doby Jr. said. “He played against two of of them; coached against the other one. He would’ve been very honored.”

Growing up in New Jersey, Doby Jr. loved baseball but rarely heard about his father’s accomplishments. His dad, he says, was a humble man who cared far more about family than his glory days. “He was definitely reserved about it,” Doby Jr. says. “He was more about dealing with the present and the future, but as he got a little older, his tongue got a little looser.”

As he grew older, Doby Jr., who played baseball and football at Duke University, began to grasp the importance his father’s legacy. “I kind of figured it out,” he says. “He was fiercely proud of it. I was very quiet about it myself. That was the example he set. That was one of the qualities I inherit from him.”

In 1998, Larry Doby was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. It was an overdue but fitting honor.

“You kind of grew up your whole life never thinking it was going to happen,” says his son, who currently works for Madison Square Garden as a union stagehand. “You knew about all the special players in there. It was kind of surreal.”

Over the past few years, he’s enjoyed being part of the stamp creation process. The enormity of the situation didn’t really hit home, however, until he saw Kadir Nelson’s eye-catching painting for the stamp. Not until, he said, “you could actually see it. That was the next step to becoming a reality.”

Occasionally, when a stranger hears his name, Doby Jr. is asked if he’s related to the baseball player. He certainly doesn’t mind.

“It comes and it goes,” Doby Jr. said. “Sometimes it doesn’t happen. Sometimes it happens all the time. It’s definitely a nice thing when somebody wonders if you’re related. That’s just part of being number two.”

Major League Baseball trademarks and copyrights are used with permission of Major League Baseball Properties, Inc.