THE PLACE TO LEARN ABOUT BASEBALL -- AND HOW TO SNAG ONE AT A MAJOR LEAGUE GAME




Marked balls


Some teams mark their balls on the sweet spot so their employees (and players) won't steal them and get them signed. I used to think these balls were ugly, but I've grown to love them.



  H

The Houston Astros have guarded their precious balls since the beginning of time, so I made sure to flaunt one in my New York Times photo.
     
  P

The Pittsburgh Pirates had the decency to mark this ball neatly.
     
  S.F.

The San Francisco Giants didn't.
     
  F

Same for the Florida Marlins.
     
  NY

The New York Mets REALLY wanted to keep track of all their balls in the mid-90s. See the one in the middle? Never get a ball signed with a Sharpie (or any other magic marker) or it might "bleed" and end up looking like this.
     
  C

Some teams stamp their balls. This one belonged to the Chicago Cubs.
     
  SD

San Diego Padres.
     
  X

Why did the Atlanta Braves use an X? I don't know. All I can tell you is that this is my 1,000th ball, which I snagged on 6/11/96 at Shea Stadium.
     
  KCR

Key Component Review? Kowloon Canton Railway? Kenya Cancer Registry? Oh, no . . . wait . . . Kansas City Royals!
     
  Star

I forget which team this came from. If you have a similar ball, please get in touch and let me know.
     
 

E

I forget the source of this one too. It's an All-Star ball from 2000, so I probably got it later that season when I saw the Expos play at Turner Field...but why would this have belonged to the visiting team?

     
  TB

Tampa Bay Devil Rays.
     
  Dodgers, Part I

At one point, the Los Angeles Dodgers used a fancy stamp . . .
     
  Dodgers, Part II 

. . . and then they became just like everyone else.
     
  Brewers, Part I

Ditto for the Milwaukee Brewers. I caught this ball at some point in the 90s . . .
     
  Brewers, Part II

. . . and I snagged this one on June 11, 2003 at Miller Park. I even know that it was my 2nd of 17 balls that day. How? Because I started labeling them after ball No. 2,000. The Brewers drew the line. I wrote the "2025" and typed all the details into my ball log.
     
  C

This came from Cincinnati Reds shortstop Barry Larkin.
     
  Mystery writing

I have *NO* idea what the writing means. It was already there when Colorado Rockies pitcher Scott Dohmann threw me the ball on 9/29/05 at Shea Stadium.
     
  Accidental autograph, Part I

More Rockies weirdness the next day: this ball was already signed by shortstop Omar Quintanilla when he tossed it to me.
     
  Sign at the "X"

Someone on the Mets apparently made a joke about autograph collectors by drawing an "X" and a blank line on the sweet spot.
     
  Brewers, Part III

Uhh . . . random? I snagged these four at Miller Park in 2009.
     
  Dodgers, Part III

In 2009 the Dodgers used practice balls with two different stamps. This was one . . .
     
  Dodgers, Part IV

. . . and this was the other. "WIN" stands for a charity called Women's Initiatives Network.
     
  Tigers

Yeesh.
     
  Indians

If you snagged one of these specially-marked balls during BP at Progressive Field, you'd get a discount on gasoline.
     
  Accidental autograph, Part II

When the Cardinals wrapped up batting practice on 6/1/12 at Citi Field, hitting coach Mark McGwire walked off the field with three baseballs in his left hand and a pen in his right. He signed all three and *then* tossed them into the crowd. This was the first of those balls, and by the way, this was the day that Johan Santana pitched the first no-hitter in Mets history.
     
  Twitter

The game on 7/13/12 at Yankee Stadium happened to be "Social Media Night," and this was the result. #HellsYeah
     
  Check

The Red Sox used these balls during BP in 2015. I'm not sure what the check mark is supposed to mean, but I like it.