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Sunday, July 29, 2001

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   to appear.

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   better hurry).

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).

Yankee Stadium   is represented in its pre-renovation glory, with the original roof railings   intact. Something intangible, yet indelible, was lost when the Stadium was modernized.

Historians of   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   use today.

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   course?without lights.

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!

 

Don Malcolm Posted: July 29, 2001 at 06:00 AM | 5 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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Reader Comments and Retorts

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Statements posted here are those of our readers and do not represent the BaseballThinkFactory. Names are provided by the poster and are not verified. We ask that posters follow our submission policy. Please report any inappropriate comments.

   1. Sean Forman Posted: July 30, 2001 at 12:10 AM (#604030)
Now I'm really nitpicking here, but it is a legitimate baseball question. Was the backstop at Comiskey really 100+ feet from home plate?
   2. Eric Enders Posted: July 30, 2001 at 12:10 AM (#604034)
Nice overview of the stamp set, Don. One additional comment: The artwork on these stamps is great, and it's not new, either. The illustrations are taken directly from old linen postcards featuring the ballparks in question. So if these stamps have a vintage feel, that's because the illustrations were actually created half a century ago, or even longer.

Eric
   3. All you Need is Glove Posted: July 30, 2001 at 12:10 AM (#604041)
Thank You Don.

I'm going to print a copy of your article and put with my "yard" stamps.
   4. Rich Rifkin I Posted: July 31, 2001 at 12:10 AM (#604051)
Based on the photos on ballparks.com, the other Wrigley Field - the one where the Los Angeles Angels played their inaugural season - was even more beautiful than Chicago's version of Wrigley.

http://www.ballparks.com/baseball/american/wrigla.htm

Of course, because it was only a major league park for one year, it was sensibly not featured on a stamp.
   5. Jolly Old St. Nick Still Gags in October Posted: August 01, 2001 at 12:10 AM (#604053)
They look great, but I wish the Polo Grounds would have had the unique outfield depicted. Afterall, it was the short porch and the centerfield abyss that made the park memorable.

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