A Selection of Hallmark Ornaments: Baseball
9 artifacts in this set
People have been hitting balls with sticks or bats for ages, but in the mid-1800s, Americans began to refine various bat-and-ball games. Over time the game evolved into what we know today as baseball.
Many children are introduced to baseball by throwing a ball around with family. Others learn to play the game in grade school or with friends in an empty field or a neighborhood sandlot. Sometimes, parents sign their children up to play in organized youth sports leagues.
Many young players dream of making it to the big leagues. A few good players make it to the minor leagues, and fewer still get a call from a team in the majors. Today's Major League Baseball team's rosters consist of only 26 to 40 players throughout the season.
Hallmark introduced its "Baseball Heroes" series, highlighting some of baseball's greats, in 1994. George Herman "Babe" Ruth was the first in the series. Ruth played most of his career (1914-1935) for the New York Yankees. He hit 714 home runs -- 60 of them in one season.
In the early 1900s, racial prejudice deprived talented African Americans of the right to play professional, major-league baseball. In 1947, Jackie Robinson faced the challenges of discrimination and abuse to champion the rights of African Americans to compete in Major League Baseball. Robinson joined the Brooklyn Dodgers, breaking baseball's "color line" and excelling at the game. Robinson appeared on Hallmark's 1997 "Baseball Heroes" ornament.
Some Major League ballparks have become part of the fabric of the game, strengthening the bond between fans, players, and the team. Today's Wrigley Field, home of the Chicago Cubs, was built in 1914 as Weeghman Park. The Cubs moved in in 1916, and ten years later, the ballpark was named for Cubs' owner William Wrigley, Jr. Hallmark created this ornament celebrating Wrigley Field in 2000.
Hallmark's "Cooperstown Collection" ornaments honored major league players who had been inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame located at Cooperstown, New York. Willie Mays, known as "The Say Hey Kid," joined that illustrious group of baseball greats in 1979. Mays, who garnered more than 3,200 hits playing for the New York/San Francisco Giants and New York Mets, is considered one of the greatest players of the game.
This 2005 ornament -- made for Hallmark's "At the Ballpark" series -- depicts St. Louis Cardinals slugger Albert Pujols. The series began in 1996 and ended in 2010. Hallmark, however, continued to produce ornaments showcasing Major League Baseball stars after the official series ended.
As each season ends and winter snows cover the ball fields, fans begin to dream. They dream of next year -- a winning season and perhaps a championship for their favorite team. They dream of hearing the crack of the bat or the padded thump of a long fly ball caught for the third out. They dream of a hit, a catch, the go-ahead run on first, the slide into home. They dream of spring, when it will all start up again. They dream of baseball.