US Stamps

Knute Rockne stamp: just the ticket

Jul 18, 2023, 8 AM

U.S. Stamp Notes by John M. Hotchner

Stamps sometimes show up in the strangest places.

On March 9, 1988, the United States Postal Service issued a 22¢ stamp (Scott 2376) to honor Knute Rockne (1888-1931), legendary coach of the Notre Dame “Fighting Irish” football team from 1918 to 1930. Figure 1 shows the commemorative.

During Rockne’s tenure as coach, Notre Dame won 105 games and lost only 12; he also won three national championships (1924, 1929 and 1930). His career was cut short when he died in a plane crash on March 31, 1931.

The Purdue-Notre Dame football game of Sept. 24, 1988, was the second home game played at Notre Dame Stadium that season, and the Rockne stamp was featured on the ticket stub as can be seen in Figure 2.

How did Notre Dame do? More than 59,000 attendees saw the Fighting Irish win 52-7, on the way to a 12 wins, no-losses season, which included winning the National Championship and the Fiesta Bowl 34-21 against West Virginia University.

In this banner year, the Fighting Irish were coached by another football legend, Lou Holtz (born 1937), who led Notre Dame from 1986-96. His record was 100 wins, 30 losses and two ties. He took his teams to nine straight bowl games, from 1987 to 1995. Perhaps we will see him on a future U.S. set of stamps honoring great football coaches.

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