Although the numbers are down today for African Americans playing professional baseball, blacks have made tremendous strides in the sport.
Now the U.S. Postal Service has released commemorative stamps of two African American great baseball players as part of its Major League Baseball All-Stars stamp series, to be released on July 21. The two are: Larry Doby and Willie Stargell. Other legends honored in ”Individual Forever” series are Joe DiMaggio and Ted Williams. The players will be on sheets together as well as get their out sheet of stamps individually.
The selection process is complex. “Postmaster General's Citizens' Stamp Advisory Committee reviews about 40,000 suggestions for stamp ideas each year and before recommending about 25 to 30 topics to the Postmaster General for his approval,” explains Mark Saunders, U.S. Postal Service, Corporate Communications. “Just as in their lives, Doby and Stargell were rare individuals who beat the odds by becoming immortalized on stamps.”
Lawrence Eugene "Larry" Doby (1923 –2003) played in the Negro leagues and Major League Baseball. He was actually the first African American to play in the American League--the Cleveland Indians. He was a seven-time All-Star and set an American League outfielder record for 164 consecutive errorless games.
Wilver Dornell "Willie" Stargell, aka “Pops” (1940 2001) spent 21 years in the major leagues. During his career, the seven-time National League All-Star hit 475 home runs. He was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1988.
This isn´t the first time an African-American baseball player was immortalized on a stamp. Jackie Robinson was honored on a stamp in 1982 and Josh Gibson and Satchel Page were honored in 2000. Additionally, the U.S. Postal Service issued the Negro Leagues Baseball stamps in 2010. And Satchel Paige, Josh Gibson, and Jackie Robinson had already been part of the 2000 Legends of Baseball stamps.
“The Major League Baseball All-Stars stamps will be available in post offices for about three months but they'll be available online for about a year until they sell out,” notes Saunders.
So why does the Postal Service continue to issue not only commemorative stamps, but baseball stamps? Good business. “Baseball stamps typically sell better than traditional commemorative stamps,” says Saunders.