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




Weird balls



  Missing cover

This is officially the weirdest baseball that I've ever snagged. Half the cover was missing when I got it during batting practice at Game 3 of the 2011 World Series.
     
  Torn stitches

I'm not sure if a player defaced it or if it simply hit something and ripped. Either way (and like all the other balls here) it was like this when I caught it.
     
  Dirtiest ball ever

No, I didn't smack this ball around Central Park for three hours before photographing it. It actually looked like this when a groundskeeper tossed it to me at Citi Field in 2014. He said he'd found it the bullpen.
     
  Gash #1

Damaged balls are worthless to autograph collectors, but I love them.
     
  Gash #2

My guess is that this ball flew into a section of empty seats and hit the edge of a concrete step. How else could this have happened?
     
  Bat imprints

Occasionally the bat meets the ball just right and leaves an impression of the words that are branded onto the barrel. If you look at the top left ball in a mirror, you can see the replica of Derek Jeter's signature and a portion of "NEW YORK YANKEES" underneath.
     
  Three-dimensional imprint

Unlike the bat imprints above, this one (which came from an unknown source) is actually embedded into the cowhide cover.
     
  Weird pattern #1

Random markings are fairly common, but few cover such a large portion of the ball.
     
  Weird pattern #2

I snagged this ball at Citi Field in 2009. It was a high, foul pop-up hit by Angel Pagan. The ball landed on some steps before I was able to grab it. I'm thinking the pattern got imprinted by the tiny ridges in the cement.
     
  Smudges

The balls on the left are smudged with pine tar. I'm not sure about the others.
     
  Smeared logo #1

This must be the product of a foul ball . . .
     
  Smeared logo #2

. . . so why doesn't it happen more often?
     
  Stains

The ball on the lower left had been sitting in a puddle at Veterans Stadium before it was tossed to me. I can't explain the others.
     
  Small logo

Not a big deal but still worth noting: "CUSHIONED CORK CENTER" is slightly smaller here than usual.
     
  Mis-stamped #1

High.
     
  Mis-stamped #2

Low.
     
  Mis-stamped #3

Seasick.
     
  Mis-stamped #4

Someone needs to practice stamping "practice."
     
  Teeny practice stamp

D'aww, so cute!
     
  Unstamped

There was a time, shortly after the turn of the millennium, when unstamped balls with multi-colored stitching were used during batting practice.
     
 

Arizona Fall League?!

It's pretty weird to snag a minor league ball at a major league game. Mets pitcher Aaron Sele (who belonged in the minors) tossed it to me during batting practice at Shea Stadium on May 14, 2007.

     
  Pacific Coast League?!?!

More minor league weirdness: the Tigers used these balls during batting practice at the Red Sox home opener on April 8, 2008.
     
  International League?!?!?!

Same team, new season, similar ball. The Tigers used these during BP at the Rogers Centre in April 2009.
     
  Mexican League?!?!?!?!

This one was tossed to me by Orioles pitcher Jeremy Guthrie on 7/23/11 at Camden Yards. Five days later, I learned that the ball was the centerpiece of an elaborate prank.
     
  Lopsided

It's not that weird to see a lopsided training ball—training balls are cheap and get knocked out of shape fairly easily—but this is the real deal.
     
  Fingerprint

This might be a job for the FBI. It looks like someone touched the Rawlings logo when the ink was wet and left a fingerprint just above it.
     
  Half-dirty

Rubbed with mud on top? White and shiny in the middle? Another one of life's mysteries.