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.
     
  KCR

Key Component Review? Kowloon Canton Railway? Kansas City Royals? Kentucky Cancer Registry?
     
  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

Too Bad the Devil Rays were so bad for so long.
     
  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 started using 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

Snag one of these specially-marked balls during BP at Progressive Field and 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