Originally published July 20, 2012 at 1:36 p.m., updated July 20, 2012 at 3:27 p.m.
Ted Williams is one of baseball’s legends, the last major leaguer to bat .400 in a season. Now he will be a legend in a new way, as a picture of him swinging away adorns a new stamp from the United States Post Office.
A stamp honoring San Diego native Ted Williams was issued Friday by the U.S. Postal Service as part of a set of four stamps depicting members of the Baseball Hall of Fame.
The post office issued the stamp honoring San Diego native Williams on Friday. The stamp is part of a series of four baseball greats, which set a record for postal service preorders. The other stamps depict Joe DiMaggio, Willie Stargell and Larry Doby.
Mark Saunders, a spokesman for the post office, said they received more than 2 million orders for the stamps before they were even released.
Saunders added he was not surprised by the popularity of the Williams stamp.
“He was an incredible humanitarian, an incredible human being, he dominated the sport during his career," he said. "When you think about it, at the pinnacle of his career, he left to serve in the Marines during World War II as a Navy pilot, and then again in Korea as a fighter pilot. And he even crash landed. What a life this guy had.”
Williams spent most of his career with the Boston Red Sox, but played for the minor league San Diego Padres in 1936 and 1937 after graduating from San Diego’s Hoover High School.
Local baseball enthusiast Bill Swank, who's leading an effort to install a Ted Williams statue near San Diego’s Port, said this stamp will help preserve the memory of Williams. He said when he held a protest to lobby for the statue, many people didn't know who Williams was.
“I mean he’s this great ballplayer, but time marches on," Swank said. "And that’s why we have to remember and memorialize our past or else it just disappears.”
In addition to the sheet of 20 stamps depicting all four players, people can buy stamp sheets featuring just Ted Williams at the post office website.
Williams is generally regarded as the greatest hitter in baseball history, with a .344 average in 19 seasons with the Red Sox. His .482 career on-base percentage is the best in major league history.
City News Service contributed to this report.