Zack Hample

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.



The Houston Astros used to guard their precious balls, so I made sure to flaunt one in my New York Times photo.



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



The San Francisco Giants didn't.



Same for the Florida Marlins.



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.



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



San Diego Padres.



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.



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



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



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?



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.



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.






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.



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



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.



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.



Say hello to the 2019 batch of Red Sox balls.