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Stamp of approval

Niskayuna collector talks about new baseball stamps and old memories

Richard Ratajak leads an audience at the Niskayuna Senior Center in singing “Take Me Out to the Ball Game.” Ratajak on Tuesday, June 5, gave a presentation at the center on the U.S. Postal Service’s upcoming release of four commemorative baseball stamps.

Richard Ratajak leads an audience at the Niskayuna Senior Center in singing “Take Me Out to the Ball Game.” Ratajak on Tuesday, June 5, gave a presentation at the center on the U.S. Postal Service’s upcoming release of four commemorative baseball stamps. Photo by John Purcell.

— His collection of stamps include 10 books, and he hesitated to even estimate a total, but settled on 1,000 stamps per book, more or less.

“I especially like to make connections locally,” he said. “We’ve got a lot of local talent and a lot of historic things that have happened here.”

He said he realizes stamps are almost a relic of a different time as the U.S. Postal Service faces cuts and declining revenue.

“It is a different era we live in,” he said. “At one time stamps were big … but it is hard to say if it is going to have a revival.”

If people just took time to look the hobby, he said, they might get “lost in it.”

Growing up in Amsterdam, Ratajak always had an interest in baseball, beginning with the Amsterdam Rugmakers, affiliated with the New York Yankees, as his hometown team. The Rugmakers played from 1938 to 1942 and again from 1946 to 1951.

“I almost got Joe DiMaggio’s autograph one year,” he said. “They used to come periodically to play the farm club.”

When asked what his favorite stamp was, he finally answered after a long pause that the “Shot Heard ‘Round the World” was his top pick. The stamp was issued on June 26, 1999, with a postage value of 33 cents, and celebrated the famous home run by Bobby Thompson off pitcher Ralph Branca that led the New York Giants to a 5-4 victory over the Brooklyn Dodgers and secured the team’s pennant playoff victory.

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