1999 All-Star Game - Fenway Park Edition
Big names from the 1999 All-Star squads: Kent Bottenfield, Jose Rosado, Dave Nilsson, Ed Sprague, Ron Coomer, John Jaha — is it just me or does it feel like this was two lifetimes ago?
Cleveland vs. Boston? Texas vs. New York? None of the above. I snagged it during batting practice at Yankee Stadium the following season. (I've caught many of my commemorative balls at random batting practices.)
October 17, 1999. Shea Stadium. Mets vs. Braves. Game 5. Top of the 13th. Foul ball hit by Jorge Fabregas. Vertical leap. Caught on the fly. Jubilation.
Enron Field inaugural season
This ball should be ashamed of itself.
2000 All-Star Game -- Turner Field Edition
Check out that teeny MLB logo in the middle of the '2000.'
2000 All-Star Game
Turner Field hosted the 2000 All-Star Game, so the ball's stitches match the Braves' colors.
County Stadium final season
That place was fugly.
2000 World Series
Subway Series, baby! This version with the Mets and Yankees logos was not used in games. It was sold as a collectible, and the Mets used a bunch of these balls the following season at Shea Stadium.
San Juan, Puerto Rico
The Rangers and Blue Jays opened the 2001 season at Hiram Bithorn Stadium in San Juan. If you look closely at the commemorative logo, you can see a faint "T" for Texas on the left and the Jays' maple leaf on the right.
Miller Park inaugural game
The Brewers' new home opened on April 6, 2001. (Too bad the logo on this ball is worn off. It's the only one I got, and it's super rare.)
July 4th, 2001
Patriotism at its best.
2001 World Series
Gold stamping: nice.
2002 All-Star Game
Calling off the game with the score tied after 11 innings: not nice.
Yankees' 100th anniversary
The Yanks used these balls at home throughout the 2003 season.
Serie de los Expos de Montreal
Remember the Expos? Remember when they played some of their home games in Puerto Rico?
Washington Nationals inaugural season
I made the 200-mile drive to RFK Stadium for the sole purpose of getting this. (If not for these special balls, I would've waited another season or two for the crowds to shrink.)
2005 All-Star Game
For whatever reason, the Mets used these during BP throughout 2006. I ended up with 26 of them. BOO-yah!
New Busch Stadium inaugural season
Another example of random ball acquisition: Mets third base coach Manny Acta tossed it to me in Philadelphia.
To my surprise, I received free goodies after catching this BP ball and showing it at Citizen Bank Park's Alley Store: an Ashburn Alley replica street sign, an Ashburn Alley t-shirt, a plastic Ball Qube, and a $25 gift certificate. Hot diggity.
2006 All-Star Game
Another season of Mets batting practice, another crop of All-Star balls.
Yankee Stadium final season
The Yankees used these balls during home games throughout the 2008 season. The logo featured the original facade of the stadium. This ball happens to be my 3,500th lifetime ball.
Shea Stadium final season
The Mets used these balls during their final year at Shea.
Nationals Park inaugural season
On April 10, 2008, I set a personal record (which I have since broken) by snagging 28 balls at one game. This was my final ball of the day, and THIS is the 5,795-word blog entry I wrote about it.
2008 Futures Game
Normally I don't count balls from the Futures Game in my collection, but I happened to snag this one during batting practice before the Home Run Derby.
2008 Home Run Derby
I didn't catch anything during the Derby itself, but I managed to snag a few balls during batting practice.
2008 All-Star Game
Good thing I didn't spend $4,000 for dugout seats at the All-Star Game; I ended up snagging half a dozen of these balls during batting practice at Shea Stadium.
2008 World Series
I attended Game 4 of the 2008 World Series, but I didn't snag this ball until the following season. Mets pitcher John Maine tossed it to me at Dodger Stadium on the same day I snagged ball No. 4,000.
Citi Field inaugural season
Worst. Commemorative. Logo. Ever. Not only is it puny, but it doesn't say the name of the stadium or city or team. Only the Mets could find a way to screw up a ball.
New Yankee Stadium inaugural season
THIS is what a commemorative logo should look like.
Metrodome final season
Here's another example of a beautiful commemorative logo. See the difference between this and the Citi Field ball?
2009 World Baseball Classic
The week after the All-Star break, I drove down to Citizens Bank Park to see Heath Bell. He had told me earlier in the season that he'd saved a ball for me from the World Baseball Classic. This is it . . .
2009 All-Star Game
. . . and then he surprised me by giving me this ball too. (Wow.)
Target Field inaugural season
Beautiful logo. Beautiful stadium. Terrible place to snag baseballs.
San Juan Series
In June 2010, the Mets and Marlins played a three-game series at Hiram Bithorn Stadium in San Juan, Puerto Rico. During the first game, Mike Stanton (now known as Giancarlo) hit his second career home run. This is the ball. I caught it on the fly.
2010 All-Star Game
This is one of the best logos I've ever seen. The game took place at Angel Stadium. That's why there's a halo on the big star.
2010 World Series
Is it just me or has the World Series logo gotten lamer?
Salt River Fields
In 2011, the Rockies and Diamondbacks opened a joint Spring Training facility called Salt River Fields. Some of these commemorative balls found their way to major league stadiums, and I snagged this one during BP at Citi Field. Note how the outline of the Rocky Mountains is formed by a snake's body and head.
Angels' 50th anniversary
The Angels used these balls at home throughout the 2011 season.
2011 Home Run Derby
Robinson Cano won the competition with 12 homers in the final round. One of those homers traveled 466 feet to right-center field and ended up in my glove. This is the ball, and here’s the video.
2012 Opening Series in Japan
The Mariners and A's opened the 2012 season with a two-game series at the Tokyo Dome. This ball was tossed to me during batting practice.
Mets' 50th anniversary
Much better than the commemorative Citi Field logo, but the Mets still goofed by not including the years.
Astros' 50th anniversary, Part 1
Oh hey, look. There are years. Bravo, Astros.
Camden Yards' 20th anniversary
Whaddaya know? There are years here too! Nice work, Orioles.
Marlins Park inaugural season
This is Troy Toluwitzki's 127th career home run. It landed in the Marlins' bullpen. Heath Bell retrieved it and tossed it to me. Click here to read my blog entry about this game. You won't regret it.
Fenway Park's 100th anniversary
Civil Rights Game
Since 2007, Major League Baseball has had an annual "Civil Rights Game." On August 18, 2012, it took place at Turner Field. I snagged 15 balls that day, including five like this with the commemorative logo.
When I heard that the Braves were going to use these balls throughout the final regular-season series at Turner Field, I booked a last-minute flight from New York and ended up snagging four in two days. These balls were selling for $300 apiece in the team store, so if I wanted to sell mine (which I don't), I could've easily made my money back.
From 1996 through 1999, each round of the postseason had its own commemorative ball with a unique logo. From 2000 through 2011, regular balls were used during the first two rounds, but in 2012, commemorative balls were back in the playoffs.
Astros' 1st season in the American League
When MLB moved the Astros from the National League Central to the American League West in 2013, this baseball marked the occasion.
Rockies' 20th anniversary
I don't like it. The mountains are too dark and don't look mountainous enough.
2013 Home Run Derby
I snagged six of these during BP and gave three away, not to random fans but to the guy who paid for my ticket. That was our deal, and we agreed to do the same thing at the All-Star Game.
2013 All-Star Game
This ball is perfect.
Orioles' 60th anniversary
Can't argue with a home plate-shaped logo.
PETCO Park's 10th anniversary
The Padres didn't start using these gorgeous baseballs until halfway through the season, by which point they were done playing on the east coast. Therefore, in order to snag one (or ten, as it turned out), I had to book a trip to San Diego.
Sorry, Yankee fans, but this logo is weak. Just as the Chipper Jones ball featured an image of Jones, this one should've shown Jeter. Also, the wording at the bottom ("New York Captain Yankees") is clunky, and the years of his career are glaringly absent. Whatever. I'm still ecstatic to have snagged this ball.
I didn't get any baseballs during Game 1 of the ALDS at Camden Yards, but thankfully the Tigers were using these during BP.
2015 Opening Day
I got this ball from the Mets bullpen at Citi Field, two days after the home opener.
Nationals' 10th anniversary
Nice. Simple. And I didn't need to go to Washington, D.C. to snag it because the Nationals brought some on the road when they came to New York.
Astros' 50th anniversary, Part 2
How can one team celebrate a 50th anniversary twice — three years apart?? The first one (in 2012) commemorated 50 years as a major league franchise. This one (in 2015) marked 50 years as the Astros. (In 1965 they changed their name from the Colt .45s and moved into the Astrodome.)
Since the Yankees didn't bother to include the years of Williams' career in the logo, I'll provide that info here: 1991-2006.
2015 Futures Game
Same deal as the 2008 Futures Game ball -- I snagged this the following day during BP before the Home Run Derby. And it's mud-rubbed!
2015 Home Run Derby
The main logo is lame, but HOW COOL IS THE SWEET SPOT?! Click the photo and you'll see what I'm talking about. I've never seen anything like that.
Once again, the years (1995-2011) are missing, but I love the detail on this logo, specifically Posada's shin guard.
In this case, I'll forgive the Yankees for not including the years since it would've had to say "1995-2003, 2007-2013."
I got this from a batboy after Game 3 of the NLDS between the Mets and Dodgers -- the first postseason game ever at Citi Field.
2015 World Series
This was the ball that ended the 10th inning of Game 5 at Citi Field -- a Kelly Johnson pop-up off Luke Hochevar, caught by Eric Hosmer and tossed to me by Alcides Escobar. Two innings later, the Royals were champions.
Mexico City Series
In March 2016, the Padres and Astros played two Spring Training games at Fray Nano Stadium in Mexico City. Astros bullpen catcher Carlos Munoz saved this ball for me and tossed it to me 14 months later at Yankee Stadium.
Blue Jays' 40th season
Okay, this is just weird. The Jays (who became a team in 1977) used these balls in 2016, not for their 40th anniversary, but rather their 40th season.
A century of Cubs at Wrigley Field
Another "100-year" Cubs/Wrigley ball? Umm, okay. Cool.
Turner Field final season
I'll always miss this place. I averaged more than 13 balls per game there.
Marlins 3rd baseman Martin Prado tossed this to me on 7/3/16 at Fort Bragg Field -- the first MLB game ever played on an active military base. My presence caused a huge uproar and I deeply regret going; check out my blog entry to get the full story.
2016 Futures Game
Same deal as the 2008 and 2015 Futures Game balls -- I snagged this during BP before the Home Run Derby.
2016 Home Run Derby
These were used during BP before the All-Star Game. (WTF?)
2016 All-Star Game
These were used during BP before the Home Run Derby. (Double WTF?)
I got this (and eight other regular MLB balls) at the Wild Card game at Citi Field. The Giants beat the Mets, 3-0. Madison Bumgarner went the distance to lower his career postseason ERA to 1.94.
2016 World Series
Indians bullpen catcher Ricky Pacione gave this to me the following season at Progressive Field. (Whatta guy!)
Camden Yards' 25th anniversary
This was the ball that ended the 8th inning on May 24, 2017 -- a Chris Davis strikeout, tossed to me by Twins catcher Chris Gimenez. I attended two games that day at two different stadiums. Here's the video.
Mariners' 40th anniversary
Unlike the Braves, who never seem to bring commemorative balls on the road, the Mariners are using a ton of these 40th-anniversary balls, so get your ass to BP and snag one. Or ten. That said, I caught this one during a game at Safeco Field -- a foul ball by Danny Valencia on June 6, 2017.
In 2016 the Reds used these balls for three games when they retired Pete Rose's uniform number and inducted him to their Hall of Fame. I missed out on that but got another chance when the Reds unveiled a new Pete Rose statue in 2017 and brought these balls back for the day. Here's the video.
Four years after the Mother's Day ball was first used, MLB finally decided to introduce this one — and it was never used again. So sad. I think it looks ghostly and amazing. Want to see how exactly I got it? Check out the video.
2017 World Series
Here's the ball that ended the 2nd inning of Game 1 at Dodger Stadium. Logan Forsythe flied out on a 1-2 pitch from Dallas Keuchel; Astros center fielder George Springer caught it and tossed to me on his way in.
2018 Spring Training -- Florida
Reminder: I don't count balls that I snag at Spring Training. This one (like the Spring Training balls I got in 2016) found its way into my possession during the regular season.
2018 Spring Training -- Arizona
See above. This, too, was a regular-season acquisition.
2018 Opening Day
Giancarlo Stanton's first game in the Bronx as a member of the Yankees couldn't have been much worse. He struck out FIVE times. This was the ball that ended his first at-bat. Rays catcher Jesus Sucre threw it to me.
Royals' 50th season
Nice logo. It seems a bit small, though, and I'll always think it's dumb when a team celebrates a milestone number of seasons rather than a milestone anniversary. 1969 to 2018? C'mon, Royals, get with it! Here's the video from this game.
Rays' 20th anniversary
You know what's dumber than the years on a commemorative ball NOT being multiples of five or ten? Not having years at all. Congrats, Rays. I snagged this ball on the day I did my first "meet-n-greet" at an MLB stadium.
Mexico Series -- Monterrey
The Dodgers and Padres played a three-game series at the Monterrey Baseball Stadium in May 2018. I was hoping for a more creative, non-text-based logo, but of course it's still cool to have gotten this ball, and it was exciting just to be there. This was my 54th MLB stadium.
Dodgers' 60th anniversary in L.A.
I like this logo. The building is City Hall, which was the tallest building in Los Angeles when the Dodgers moved there from Brooklyn, and by the way, this ball was thrown to me by home plate umpire David Rackley after the game on May 9, 2018. Dodger Stadium is officially a fun place.
Rockies' 25th anniversary
The mountains are better here than on the 20th anniversary ball, but the Rockies logo is missing, and there are still NO FRICKIN' YEARS. 1993-2018. Is that so difficult? Jeeeeezus. The coolest thing about this logo is the microscopic font that says "Colorado." I got this ball on May 29, 2018.
Marlins' 25th anniversary
For some stupid reason, the Marlins only used these baseballs for one weekend in June 2018. But then again, that makes this ball much more rare, so perhaps I shouldn't complain. That said, I do think the logo is too light/faint. Advantage: pitchers.
Giants' 60th anniversary in S.F.
I snagged three of these baseballs on June 26, 2018.
2019 Opening Series in Japan
2019 Spring Training -- Florida
One week after I got back from Japan, I caught this ball during regular-season BP at Yankee Stadium. Very cool logo. Less is more.
2019 Spring Training -- Arizona
I got this one in late April at Progressive Field.
Globe Life Park final season
One of the best/funnest/chillest stadiums I’ve ever been to. So sad to see it go. (Also sad to see commemorative logos getting smaller and smaller. What a cruddy trend.)
Reds’ 150th anniversary
Pretty cool to have a commemorative logo that features a year in the 1800s.
On June 13, 2019, the Tigers and Royals played a regular-season game at TD Ameritrade Park — home of the College World Series.
First MLB games ever played in Europe — Yankees vs. Red Sox. I got this one from Yankees bullpen catcher Radley Haddad. Click here for the video.
2019 All-Star Game
This logo is painfully dull. I hate it. (Meanwhile I caught two homers during the Derby, and I’m not even including those balls here because the logo hasn’t changed for years. Bleh.)
Phillies Wall of Fame
On August 3, 2019, the Phillies had a pre-game induction ceremony for Bobby Abreu, the newest member of their Wall of Fame. These baseballs were then used during the game to mark the occasion.
In August 2019, the Mariners celebrated Edgar Martinez and his recent Hall of Fame induction. These baseballs were used for one weekend only, and the detail on this logo is exquisite. See the little stripes at bottom/middle for the HOF? Outstanding.
Padres’ 50th anniversary
This was a foul ball hit by Rays pitcher Oliver Drake on August 12, 2019, and since the Padres are too poor to afford the ink required to include the years on the logo, I’ll share that here: 1969-2019.
I still miss the gray/silver stamping. Maybe I’ll get over it by next year. This ball was a Brett Gardner single in the 3rd inning of Game 2 of the ALDS at Yankee Stadium; Twins 3rd baseman Miguel Sano ended up with it and chucked it out of play to me.