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




Commemorative balls



  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?
     
  1999 ALDS

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.)
     
  1999 NLCS

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, Mets vs. Yankees.
     
  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 season

The Brewers' new home opened on April 6, 2001.
     
  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.
     
  Ashburn Alley

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.
     
  2007 Opening Day

Padres reliever Heath Bell gave me this ball (as well as his cap) when I visited PETCO Park in 2008 — and by the way, this was my 400th ball of the season.
     
  2007 Home Run Derby

Justin Morneau hit the first homer of the 2007 Home Run Derby, and I caught it. You can read all about that day on my blog and watch the footage by clicking here. (.MPG = 6.7MB)
     
  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

. . . and these were the balls being used 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 the day after the game . . . 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.)
     
  2009 World Series

Home plate umpire Dana DeMuth tossed this to me as he walked off the field after Game 5 in Philadelphia.
     
  Target Field inaugural season

Beautiful logo. Beautiful stadium. Terrible place to snag baseballs.
     
  2010 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 facilty 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 a record-breaking 12-homer peformance in the final round. One of those homers traveled 466 feet to right-center field and ended up in my glove. Here it is.
     
  2011 All-Star Game

I was there. I snagged lots of balls. Click here to read my long/awesome blog entry about it.
     
  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

Oh hey, look. There are years. Bravo, Astros.
     
  Camden Yards' 20th anniversary

Whaddaya know? There are years here too! Nice work, Orioles.
     
  Dodger Stadium's 50th anniversary

Whoops, no years, but it's still a damn nice logo. (Rockies pitcher Jeremy Guthrie tossed this ball to me on 5/22/12 at Marlins Park and then posed with it for my blog. How's that for random/awesome?)
     
  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

Classy.
     
  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.
     
 

Chipper Jones

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. Therse 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.

     
  2012 Postseason

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.
     
  Mother's Day

Think pink.
     
  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.
     
  Mike Piazza

Mike Piazza was inducted into the Mets Hall of Fame on September 29, 2013. This ball was used that day at Citi Field.
     
  2013 Postseason

This was the ball that ended the 8th inning in Game 6 of the ALCS at Fenway Park. Jonny Gomes went down swinging, and Alex Avila tossed it to me on his way back to the dugout.
     
  2014 Opening Series in Australia

The Dodgers and Diamondbacks opened the 2014 season with a two-game series at the Sydney Cricket Ground. This was a BP homer on the first day.
     
  2014 Opening Day

Back in North America, every team used these balls at their home openers. This one came from Citizens Bank Park on April 8th — a Jayson Nix lineout to Aramis Ramirez to end the 7th inning.
     
  Wrigley Field's 100th anniversary

Cementing his legacy as a great provider of commemorative balls, Aramis Ramirez hit this one to me — a towering foul pop-up — on September 3, 2014.
     
  Orioles' 60th anniversary

Can't argue with a home plate-shaped logo.
     
  Derek Jeter

Sorry, Yankee fans, but this logo sucks. 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.