COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. -- The U.S. Postal Service honored four members of the National Baseball Hall of Fame on Friday morning with commemorative stamps at a ceremony in the Museum's Grandstand Theater. Ted Williams, Larry Doby, Willie Stargell and Joe DiMaggio all had their sweet swings memorialized on a green background. The "Forever" stamps will also be commemorated on Saturday in the cities where each of the great ones played: Williams in Boston, Doby in Cleveland, Stargell in Pittsburgh and DiMaggio in New York. Tony Gwynn, a Hall of Famer in his own right and an eight-time National League batting champ with the Padres, was Major League Baseball's representative at the Friday ceremony.
"This was really nice," Gwynn said after the ceremony. "These are four guys I've read a lot about. I got to play against Stargell. I had long talks about hitting with Williams. It was nerve-racking, though. When you talk about these four guys, they each brought something different to the table." Doby was the first African-American player in the American League, joining the Indians just after Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier with the Dodgers in 1947. Williams was the last player to hit .400, batting .406 in 1941, the same year DiMaggio set the record by hitting safely in 56 consecutive games. "Pops" Stargell helped the "We Are Family" Pirates win the World Series in 1971 and 1979. "It seems like every time I got to first base when he was playing there, he was always giving me some nugget to help me be a better player," said Gwynn about Stargell, whose career ended in 1982, the year the San Diego right fielder broke into the big leagues. "Those are the little tidbits that enter your mind. I got a chance to talk to Ted Williams and Joe DiMaggio. So, for me it's nice being here today." Stargell's widow, Margaret, Doby's son, Larry Jr., and DiMaggio's granddaughter, Katie Stein, were also in attendance at the event. Patrick Donahoe, the Postmaster General, dedicated the stamps, which were unveiled to a packed house on Friday. "Baseball has a powerful grip on the heartstrings of America," Donahoe told the crowd. "The sport reflects so much of our unique American culture." The U.S. Post Office has been issuing stamps to commemorate Major League players and ballparks since the first Baseball Hall of Fame induction in 1939. A new 20-stamp sheet is now available for $9 each at the Post Office across Main Street from the Hall of Fame Museum and at Post Offices across the U.S. Sheets are available for each of the four players. One also can opt for an MLB All-Stars sheet that boasts five stamps of each of the players on it.
Barry M. Bloom is national reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Boomskie on Baseball. Follow @boomskie on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.