1939 3¢ Baseball Centennial
Issue Date: June 12, 1939
First City: Cooperstown, New York
Quantity Issued: 81,269,600
Printed by: Bureau of Engraving and Printing
Printing Method: Rotary Press
Perforation: 11x10 ½
U.S. #855 commemorates the 100-year anniversary of the beginning of baseball. While other forms of the game had been played for years before the 1839 date, Abner Doubleday is credited with formalizing the rules of baseball – most of which remain today. Historians have long disputed Doubleday’s actual influence, but his efforts in the small Upstate New York town of Cooperstown are now part of baseball – and American – lore.
The baseball stamp was issued in conjunction with the opening of the Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, also in Cooperstown. The first five players elected to the Hall of Fame were Ty Cobb, Babe Ruth, Honus Wagner, Christy Mathewson, and Walter Johnson. They were elected in 1936, three years before the Hall itself opened. By the time of the opening, 21 other players, managers, and executives had been elected.
Franklin D. Roosevelt was the U.S. President while the Hall of Fame was being established. During his time in office, Roosevelt often purchased full sheets and made First Day Covers for new stamps. He frequently autographed the sheets and covers, and got people connected to the topic to autograph whenever he could. At the opening ceremonies of the Hall of Fame, Postmaster General James Farley asked many of the ballplayers to sign FDR’s sheet, before presenting it to the President.