Check this out…it’s the dirtiest ball I’ve ever caught at a major league game:
I once called Rawlings and asked them how much teams spend on balls. They wouldn’t tell me (“Don’t you know who I AM?!”), but I’ve heard from other sources that it’s in the neighborhood of $5 apiece. That’s not cheap. And that’s why some teams (like the Astros) are incredibly stingy with their balls, while many others are careful not to give away new ones.
With this in mind, one of my recent strategies has been to ask for dirty balls. That’s how I got this one (ball #2,034) back on June 11, 2003 when Marlins coach Bill Robinson tossed it to me at the 3rd base dugout after batting practice at Miller Park. It was my 11th of 17 balls that day which, at the time, was a new one-day record for me. (The following season, I got 19 balls at an Expos-Mets game at Shea.)
It’s fun to pick up a ball and study its markings and try to figure out how they got there. I’m guessing that this one rolled onto the warning track on a damp day in Miami and got caked with mud. Another thing about this ball…it’s hard to see but the “Rawlings” logo is skewed slightly diagonally, and so is the rest of the text. What a beauty.
The reason why I’m talking about this ball is that when I was over at my parents’ place the other day with a little time to spare, I dumped out each of my four barrels and sifted through 1,600 balls and photographed the most interesting ones. Over the next few days, I’ll show others. I actually made a few discoveries.
16 days until I arrive in Cincinnati.
18 days until I arrive in Houston.
Good thing the Mets are at Minute Maid this weekend. I’m getting a great look at the ballpark. Now if only the ‘stros would start losing again…