Man’s letter-writing campaign honors Little League founder

In 1952, Michael Marchese, while delivering telegrams for Western Union on his bicycle, met Carl Stotz, a man Marchese calls “the father of Little League.” For many years after that Marchese visited Stotz.

As the years passed, Marchese began to grow distressed with what he thought was a lack of recognition for Stotz.

“I always liked Carl. He was a good man and I felt he was getting shafted,” Marchese said.

The final straw for him was the removal of Stotz’s name from a scoreboard. Marchese was working as a security officer at the (Little League Baseball) World Series when he noticed the change.

“They had the board in honor of Carl and the next thing I know they take down his name and put this bank (name) up instead,” Marchese said.

The lack of recognition drove Marchese to seek some other way to recognize Stotz, Little League’s founder. He decided the best way would be for a commemorative stamp to be produced with Stotz’ likeness.

Creating a stamp is a familiar process Marchese. He was the creator and the driving force behind the creation of a Smokey Bear stamp. Marchese wrote to the United States Postal Service and initially was denied because the USPS felt that Smokey was being phased out. Marchese dug his heels in and waged a seven-year campaign. Eventually the stamp was approved in 1983 and sold in 1984.

In 2010 Marchese began the process of getting Stotz approved for a stamp.

“I sat down and got my typewriter out and wrote a personal letter. I don’t believe in form letters. Lots of people don’t respect a form letter and just throw it away,” Marchese said. “Besides, I love writing letters.”

Marchese’s plan came to a halt though when he received a letter threatening him with legal action.

“I got this letter from somebody over in Lewisburg who threatened to take me to court if I didn’t stop,” Marchese said. “They did not want a stamp of Mr. Stotz. They wanted a stamp of the founders.”

He stopped his project but something unsettled him about the whole affair.

“My wife said that sometimes you lose the battle but win the war, but this time she said I lost the war … and I thought ‘like hell I did!'” Marchese said.

Instead of giving up the fight, Marchese turned the Internet and local libraries. For the next three years he researched Stotz extensively, including Stotz’ contribution to the founding of Little League.

As Marchese researched, his conviction for his project grew. He was firmly convinced that Stotz deserved recognition and decided that, despite the previous legal threat, he was going through with his stamp project.

“The whole thing irritated me. If they can prove to me that Carl Stotz isn’t the father of Little League then I’ll drop the project, but they can’t,” Marchese said.

Last November the typewriter came back out and this time Marchese sent letters not only to the USPS but also several elected officials including Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Zionsville; U.S. Rep. Tom Marino, R-Cogan Station; and U.S. Rep. Glen “GT” Thompson, R-Howard. He didn’t receive a response back from any of the elected officials but he did hear back from the USPS.

On March 13, Marchese received a letter from Mary Anne Penner, USPS manager of stamp development, informing him that Stotz is under consideration by the Citizens’ Stamp Advisory Committee for a future stamp issuance.

“This is a good sign,” Marchese said. “I didn’t receive confirmation like this when I working on the Smokey Bear stamp.”

Marchese now is waiting on official word as to whether or not the stamp will be created. If a Stotz stamp is approved, it most likely would be issued in 2015, according to Marchese. He said if the stamp is approved he would like to see it initially revealed at the Original League field on West Fourth Street.

Like a true strategist, Marchese also has a backup plan if the stamp is denied.

“I’ll write another letter. I’ll write to everyone who has anything to do with baseball. If I have to write to every Little League team in the nation, that’s what I’ll do,” Marchese said. “If they want to take me to court I’m willing to go, too.”

Marchese’s battle to have Stotz immortalized on a stamp coincides with the 75th anniversary of Little League but he said that doesn’t matter to him.

“I’m not thinking of that. I’m thinking about Carl. Here’s a man who did something great for kids everywhere and he deserves some recognition for it,” Marchese said.