Baseball and Philately

For the first 92 years that the United States issued postage stamps the themes were either famous politicians or historical events. In 1939 that changed and the United States issued its first stamp with a nonpolitical theme-baseball. The origins of baseball are not well known. The Abner Doubleday myth was created in the early part of the twentieth century but the truth is that baseball is an American rendering of the English game of rounders and it grew up in an informal way during the early to mid nineteenth century. By about 1880 the rules looked pretty much like they do today. In the days before active professional football and basketball, baseball reigned supreme as our national past time. And this week is opening day around the country as teams play their first games of a 162 game season. The popularity of baseball is founded in much the same way as the joys of philately. They are passed on from parents to children and often become part of the lifelong bonding that exists between us and our families even after our parents are gone. Many collectors remember their fathers showing them how to use a catalog or hinge a stamp or buying them their first album. Similarly, a baseball fan’s first game, often with his father or grandfather is the anchor on which a lifelong appreciation is formed. On Thursday, when they throw out the first ball, thousands of youngsters will be involved in experiences that will become the memories that their fathers and grandfathers are reliving, as one generation once again passes on its rituals to the next.

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