Zack Hample
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Marked baseballs

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 used to guard their precious balls, 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-1990s. 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

The Red Sox used these in BP for a few years.

 

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 1990s . . .

 

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 in 2011, you'd get a discount on gasoline.

 

Accidental autograph, Part I

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.

 

Copy

The Red Sox stamped their baseballs like this from 2016-2018. (Umm, okay.)

 

Giants, Part II

Classy! And FYI, this was an infield warm-up ball that I got during a game at AT&T Park in 2018.

 

OK

Say hello to the 2019 batch of Red Sox balls.