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National Postal Museum debuts new baseball exhibit

"Baseball: America's Home Run" features artifacts that belonged to Jackie Robinson, Roberto Clemente, Yogi Berra and more.

WASHINGTON — Just in time for baseball season, the "Baseball: America's Home Run" exhibit is now open at the National Postal Museum.

Occupying a historic space next door to Union Station, the National Postal Museum is built on the site of what used to be the Swampoodle Grounds in the 1880s, one of the earliest ball fields of the Washington Nationals back in the day, a working field from 1886-1890.

"There was a major league, national league ball field here that held 6500 spectators, to watch baseball in the shadow of the Capitol Dome," said chief curator Daniel Piazza. 

The nation's postal history influences so much of American history and transportation history: it covers a lot of ground.

And now it’s rounding the bases with the new exhibition “Baseball: America’s Home Run."

The exhibition was five years in the making and features artifacts loaned from other Smithsonian museums as well as private collectors: possessions of Jackie Robinson, Roberto Clemente, Lou Gehrig and Babe Ruth, among several others. That includes baseball bats used by the players, uniforms worn by them and bases they played on.

The exhibit also tells their stories through postal stamps, and the art they were created from.

As well as through the mail: actual written letters of adulation and complaint from sports fans through the ages.

"What written mail offers that electronic mail maybe doesn’t is a very personal and intimate way of communicating, someone's handwriting, their phrasing, it all comes through on the written page very differently as opposed to a computer screen," said Piazza.

The exhibition will be open through January 2025.

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