Fields of Dreams Delivered
The Post Office Hits A Grand Slam
It?s one of those times when the wait was more than worth it.
For several months
now, whenever I?d visit a post office, I would ask the clerks about the availability
of an intriguing stamp set that was about to be issued. Its title??Baseball?s
Legendary Playing Fields??held great promise for those of us in baseball?s fan
base who have a hankering for old ballparks.
But it seemed
that every time I went in, I would get a different story about the release date
for the stamp set. Originally announced for mid-April, the set was postponed
at least twice, and in early June I was beginning to wonder if it was ever going
My fears were
unfounded. And when I first saw the stamps a month ago, I was floored by their
beauty and attention to detail. Thanks to the magic of scanners, it?s possible
for us to give you an even better look at these stamps than you?ll get when
you buy a sheet of them at the Post Office (and if you haven?t already, you?d
The Tiger Stadium
stamp has the familiar double-decked outfield seats that many of us remember
fondly (after all, it?s only been a couple of years since Comerica Park has
replaced it). The artist, however, decided to add in the mound pathway that
was once a common feature in ballparks (and can be seen today in Bank One Ballpark).
is represented in its pre-renovation glory, with the original roof railings
intact. Something intangible, yet indelible, was lost when the Stadium was modernized.
ballparks take great pride in informing you that it was possible to see the
Polo Grounds from Yankee Stadium (and vice-versa) back in ?the Era? (as Roger
Kahn coined it). Alas, those days came to an end more than three decades ago.
The Polo Grounds
stamp is one of the most beautiful of all ten illustrations in the set, especially
when it is blown up in size. The illustrator captured an especially intimate
feel in this rendering, with the gentle slope of the infield horseshoe very
nicely integrated into the image.
The next three
stamps?Ebbets Field, Shibe Park, and Forbes Field?do a wonderful job of capturing
the original ?urban park? ethos that characterized baseball?s initial building
boom. The integration of the tower into the overall design of Shibe Park is
especially well-rendered, but the Ebbets stamp probably captures best the sweeping
panorama of the urban ballpark.
One can?t help
but wish that Philadelphia?s other ballpark?the Baker Bowl?with its short right-field
porch and its blue-collar ethos, would have made the cut, but it didn?t. A similar
fate befell Sportsman?s Park in St. Louis and Cleveland?s beloved old League
Park?though the USPS did see fit to render the St. Louis park as the top (non-stamp)
panel of the set.
It?s only fitting
that the scene of major league baseball?s first night game (Cincinnati?s Crosley
Field) is presented in a nighttime scene. The right portion of this stamp is
extremely dark?was the artist trying to simulate what the actual lighting conditions
might have been like in 1938?
One of Jerry Reinsdorf?s
many crimes against humanity was his destruction of this South Side treasure.
The artist has chosen to present Comiskey Park prior to its enclosure, with
mound path intact (as we saw in the Tiger Stadium stamp above). The sweep of
the overhang is especially well captured here.
And finally, there
are wonderful stamps for the only two ballparks in this set that are still in
The Wrigley Field
stamp is arguably the best one in the set, with a breathtaking aerial view that
captures the pastoral ideal of the ballpark and its intensely urban setting.
It is rendered?of
And, of course,
Fenway Park. The artist has rendered it in a night scene, choosing to bathe
it in light, which tends to obscure some of the more notable features of the
park (i.e. the Green Monster, which is just barely perceptible).
Yet somehow the
haloing effect of the light prevails, with subtle iridescent regions of the
grass softly shimmering in a kind of abstract nocturne. The artist obviously
had the pictorial analogue of the ?field of dreams? in mind, and while the result
takes some time to grow on you, it is ultimately a most satisfying image.
If you?re a baseball
fan, you owe it to yourself to salt away a few of these sheets. If all stamps
were this good, it could result in a lot of people changing hobbies!
Posted: July 29, 2001 at 06:00 AM | 5 comment(s)
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