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'Baseball Sluggers' Stamps

By: U.S. Postal Service

Four big bats: Mickey Mantle, Roy Campanella, Hank Greenberg and Mel Ott were immortalized on postage at Yankee Stadium's home plate July 15, 2006 as the Postmaster General John E. Potter, joined by the Hall of Famers' family members, dedicated the "Baseball Sluggers" commemorative stamps and stamped postal cards. The ceremony took place before a sellout crowd of more than 54 thousand prior to the opening pitch of the New York Yankees - Chicago White Sox game.

"The Postal Service is proud to commemorate four of the greatest sluggers of the twentieth century on these spectacular stamps," said Postmaster General John E. Potter who dedicated the stamps in the house that Ruth built. "Mickey Mantle, Roy Campanella, Hank Greenberg and Mel Ott were versatile players who wowed fans with awesome and often record-breaking home runs. They helped lead their teams to victory and set impressive standards for later generations."

Joining Potter in dedicating the stamps were Mantle's sons Danny and David; Campanella's daughter Joni Roan; Greenberg's daughter, Alva, and Ott's daughter, Barbara Ott-Schneidau.

"My mother, David and I are humbled by this huge honor," said Danny Mantle. "It's great that people still remember my father. The stamp does a great job of capturing Dad as a young player during the 1950s and 1960s."

"I think Dad would be very pleased to be honored in this extraordinary way, and to be included along side Mickey, Campy and Mel Ott," said Alva Greenberg.

"Dad might have said 'kids playing baseball have wild dreams, but to be one of your country's stamps is beyond any dream," added Barbara Ott- Schneidau, one of Ott's two daughters.

"Dad exemplified courage and athletic talent," said Joni Roan, one of Campanella's five children. "Our family is very grateful for this recognition that pays tribute to our father's life and career. Now his life can be celebrated by millions of new fans."

Artist Lonnie Busch of Franklin, NC, based his designs for the "Sluggers" stamps on historic photographs, then simplifying and adapting the portraits to resemble old-fashioned baseball cards. The 39-cent "Baseball Sluggers" stamps are available in sheets of 20 (four designs). The 24-cent "Baseball Sluggers" stamped postal cards are available in booklet sets of 20 (four designs).

Bronx, NY, as host city to the first-day-of-issue ceremony, holds the unique distinction of being the only location in the nation where the stamps and postal cards are available today. The stamps will be available nationwide Sunday, July 16, at USPS.com, by calling 1-800-STAMP-24, and at selected Post Offices open Sunday. The stamps will be available at all Post Offices Monday, July 17. The stamped postal cards will be available online, at 1-800-STAMP-24 and at select Post Offices.

Mickey Mantle was a famous switch-hitter whose powerful home runs were matched by his impressive speed as a runner and outfielder. Synonymous with the New York Yankees for nearly two decades, Mantle was enormously popular with baseball fans. Fifty years ago Mantle earned the Triple Crown when he led the American league in batting (.353), homers (52) and RBIs (130). He is still considered one of the greatest players ever to take the field (see attached).

Roy Campanella, who was Major League Baseball's first African-American catcher, played with the Brooklyn Dodgers. A talented all-around player, he hit 242 home runs during his ten-year Major League career. A catcher in five World Series, he was named MVP three times.

Hank Greenberg is remembered as Major League Baseball's first Jewish superstar and one of the all-time greatest right-handed batters. The Bronx, NY, native was named MVP twice: once as a first baseman, and a second time as an outfielder. He had a career batting average of .313 and 1,276 RBIs. He was selected to four consecutive All-Star teams from 1937 to 1940.

Mel Ott is remembered for his easygoing demeanor and his unusual but powerful high-leg-kick batting stance. Ott distinguished himself with the New York Giants for 22 seasons and was the first National League player to hit 500 home runs. He led the league in home runs six times.

Philatelic Products

There are six philatelic products available for this stamp issue.

* 460163 - First Day Covers - $3.08

* 460165 - Digital Color Postmark Random Single - $1.50

* 460166 - Stamped Postal Cards - $9.95

* 460168 - Digital Color Postmark Set of four - $6

* 460184 - Uncut Press Sheet - $46.80

* 460199 - Digital Color Postmark Keepsake (Pane w/four stamps and a Digital Color Postmark) - $13.80

How to Order the First-Day-of-Issue Postmark

Customers have 30 days to obtain the first-day-of-issue postmark by mail. They may purchase new stamps at their local Post Office, by telephone at 1- 800-STAMP-24, and at the Postal Store Web site at http://www.usps.com/shop. They should affix the stamps to envelopes of their choice, address the envelopes, to themselves or others, and place them in a larger envelope addressed to:

BASEBALL SLUGGERS STAMPS

     POSTMASTER
     558 Grand Concourse
     Bronx, NY  10451-9998

After applying the first-day-of-issue postmark, the Postal Service will return the envelopes through the mail. There is no charge for the postmark. All orders must be postmarked by Aug. 14, 2006.

How to Order First-Day Covers

Stamp Fulfillment Services also offers first-day covers for new stamp issues and Postal Service stationery items postmarked with the official first- day-of-issue cancellation. Each item has an individual catalog number and is offered in the quarterly USA Philatelic catalog.

Customers may request a free catalog by calling 1-800-STAMP-24 or writing to:

INFORMATION FULFILLMENT

     DEPT 6270
     US POSTAL SERVICE
     PO BOX 219014
     KANSAS CITY, MO  64121-9014

To see the Baseball Sluggers stamps and other images from the 2006 Commemorative Stamp Program, visit the Postal Store at http://www.usps.com/shop and click on "Stamp Release Archive" under "For Education." In "Releases by year," choose 2006. To listen to the "Baseball Sluggers" stamps audio news release, visit: http://www.usps.com/communications/news/press/welcome.htm.

Current U.S. stamps, as well as a free comprehensive catalog, are available by toll-free phone order at 1-800-STAMP-24. A wide selection of stamps and other philatelic items is also available at the Postal Store at http://www.usps.com/shop. Beautifully framed prints of original stamp art for delivery straight to the home or office are available at http://www.postalartgallery.com.

Since 1775, the United States Postal Service and its predecessor, the Post Office Department, have connected friends, families, neighbors and businesses by mail. An independent federal agency that visits more than 144 million homes and businesses every day, the Postal Service is the only service provider delivering to every address in the nation. It receives no taxpayer dollars for routine operations, but derives its operating revenues solely from the sale of postage, products and services. With annual revenues of $70 billion, it is the world's leading provider of mailing and delivery services, offering some of the most affordable postage rates in the world. The U.S. Postal Service delivers more than 46 percent of the world's mail volume -- some 212 billion letters, advertisements, periodicals and packages a year -- and serves ten million customers each day at its 37,000 retail locations nationwide.

Baseball Sluggers Background

Mickey Mantle

Known as "The Commerce Comet," Mickey Mantle (1931-1995) was a famous switch-hitter whose powerful home runs were matched by his impressive speed as a runner and as an outfielder. Synonymous with the New York Yankees for nearly two decades, Mantle was enormously popular with baseball fans, and is still considered one of the greatest players ever to take the field.

Born in Spavinaw, OK, and raised in Commerce, OK, Mickey Charles Mantle was named for baseball catcher Gordon "Mickey" Cochrane. Mantle overcame a childhood bout with the bone disease osteomyelitis to excel as an athlete, and was playing with a semiprofessional baseball team by the time he was 16. He signed with the Yankees in 1949 and began playing for the team in 1951.

In 1956 Mantle enjoyed one of the greatest seasons in baseball history, hitting 52 homers with 130 RBIs and a .353 batting average to win the Triple Crown. That year he also won the first of three MVP awards, winning again in 1957 and 1962. During his career with the Yankees, Mantle led the league in home runs during four seasons and in runs during three seasons. The team won 12 pennants and seven World Series titles and Mantle himself established World Series records for runs (42), home runs (18), and RBIs (40). By the time he retired in 1968, he had a .298 batting average, he had hit 536 home runs, and been named to 20 American League All-Star teams.

In 1974, the first year of his eligibility, Mantle was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame. He died of cancer in 1995.

Roy Campanella

Nicknamed "Campy," Roy Campanella (1921-1993) was the first black catcher in the history of Major League Baseball. Known for his years with the Brooklyn Dodgers, Campanella is remembered as a talented all-around player. He hit 242 home runs during his 10 year Major League career, and was catcher in five World Series. Campanella was named MVP three times.

Born in Philadelphia, Campanella began his career during his teens by playing ball with a semiprofessional Negro League team, the Bacharach Giants. He played for the Baltimore Elite Giants from 1937 to 1945, and was considered one of the best catchers in the Negro Leagues. He also played briefly in the Mexican League.

Campanella began playing for the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1948. During his 1953 MVP season, he hit 41 home runs, chalked up 142 RBIs, scored 103 runs, and batted .312. It was considered one of the best seasons ever recorded by a catcher. With Campanella, the Dodgers won five National League pennants between 1949 and 1956 and won the World Series in 1955.

In 1958, Campanella was paralyzed in a car accident, but for decades worked behind the scenes and in community relations for the Dodgers in Los Angeles. In 1969 he was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame. He and his wife Roxie were committed to education and were proud to support their five children through college. In 1991, two years before he died, Campanella and his wife founded The Roy and Roxie Campanella Physical Therapy Scholarship Foundation, which provides support for those living with paraplegia and funds scholarships for students who pursue degrees in physical therapy.

Hank Greenberg

Hank Greenberg (1911-1986), a Bronx, NY, native, is remembered as one of the all-time greatest right-handed batters and baseball's first Jewish superstar. Twice named Most Valuable Player, he had a career batting average of .313 and 1,276 RBIs and was selected to four consecutive All-Star teams from 1937 to 1940. Greenberg was the first Major League Baseball player to serve in the military during World War II. He is also credited with developing the first baseman's glove prototype.

Nicknamed "Hammerin' Hank," Bronx native Henry Benjamin Greenberg turned down an offer from the New York Yankees in 1930 to back up Lou Gehrig at first base. Greenberg correctly predicted that Gehrig's career would be a long one and instead signed with the Detroit Tigers that year. "Ironman" Lou Gehrig retired in 1939 after playing in 2,130 consecutive games due to a fatal disease that would later carry his name.

After a short time in the minors, Greenberg began playing first base for the Tigers in 1933 and stayed with the team for most of his career. He led the American League in home runs and in RBI four times each, and he was twice named Most Valuable Player. With 58 home runs in 1938, Greenberg tied Jimmie Foxx's home-run record for right-handed hitters, and his 11 multi-homer games set a one-season record that still stands.

Greenberg's baseball career was interrupted 19 games into the 1941 season when he was inducted into the U.S. Army. He was discharged on Dec. 5, 1941, but when the United States entered World War II was commissioned as an officer in the Air Corps and served with distinction until 1945. When Greenberg returned to baseball later that year, he hit a home run in his first game back. His grand slam in the ninth inning on the last day of the season helped the Tigers win the pennant, and he hit two homers and batted in seven runs to help propel the Tigers to victory over the Cubs in the 1945 World Series.

After joining the Pittsburgh Pirates for the 1947 season, Greenberg retired as a player, later serving as general manager for the Cleveland Indians and part owner and vice president of the Chicago White Sox. He was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1956 and the International Jewish Sports Hall of Fame in 1979. He died of cancer in 1986.

Visit http://www.hankgreenbergfilm.org for additional information on his life.

Mel Ott

Born in Gretna, LA, Mel Ott (1909-1958) is remembered for his easygoing demeanor and his unusual but powerful high-leg-kick batting stance. Distinguishing himself with the New York Giants for 22 seasons, Ott was the first National League player to hit 500 home runs, and he led the league in home runs six times.

"Master Melvin" Ott began playing for the New York Giants in 1926 and stayed with the team for his entire career, serving as player-manager from 1942 to 1947 and as manager until midway through 1948. During the 1929 season, he racked up an impressive 42 home runs and 151 RBIs. A solid right fielder, he also took the league by storm with his unique left-handed batting technique, which involved holding his hands low and lifting his front foot. Ott set what was at the time a National League record for home runs with 511, hitting all but 187 of them in his home park, the Polo Grounds.

With Ott in their lineup, the Giants won three pennants. In 1933 he was a World Series hero when he hit two home runs, one of which won the fifth and final game in the tenth inning. Ott played in three World Series and eleven All Star games. He boasted a career batting average of .304, 511 home runs, and 1,860 RBIs.

Mel Ott was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1951. He died in a car accident in 1958.

References

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