#Hot Corner

Which Of These Is Not Like The Other?

Wanna guess who's going to stock up on these babies, upon their release in July?

1-0_usps12sta025a_medium

Me, that's who! Still, I can't help noticing something odd about this philatelitic Hall of Fame quartet ...

Williams? Check.

DiMaggio? Check.

Doby? Check (first black American Leaguer).

Stargell? Huh. Willie Stargell. Really good player. Hall of Famer, sure. But he wasn't nearly as good as Williams or Dimaggio, and he doesn't have the same historical resonance as Doby. Also, just looking at his stamps you'll notice something different about Stargell; he's the only one wearing a batting helmet. By the time he debuted in 1962, those other three guys had retired.

So what's he doing in the same set with them? Well, my guess is that the USPS wanted to balance Williams and DiMaggio with two black players. Doby was an obvious choice. But who else from that (general) era?

There are three significant limitations.

One, there really weren't many black players in the major leagues in the 1950s, with the list of greats including Willie Mays and Minnie Miñoso and Ernie Banks and Frank Robinson and Hank Aaron and Jackie Robinson and Roberto Clemente.

Two, the USPS doesn't like to duplicate subjects, and we've already seen multiple Jackie Robinson stamps and a couple of Roberto Clemente stamps. They could have done another Robinson or Clemente stamp, but I can't blame anyone for doing something different.

And three, the USPS was restricted to dead guys. It's not any more; last year, the USPS announced an end to that longstanding policy. But just not quite soon enough to impact this set of baseball stamps. And Mays and Miñoso and Banks and Robinson and Aaron are all still alive. So they were ineligible, when this set was put together.

Which is where Stargell comes in. If you simply run down a list of the black major leaguers in the Hall of Fame, Stargell's essentially the only one who's not still living and had never been depicted on a stamp.

Which is why one guy's wearing a batting helmet, and three guys are not.

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