Crack of the bat

I doubt I’m the only one in the world who can do this, but I can usually tell where a ball is heading by the way it sounds coming off the bat. During batting practice, I sometimes have to ignore the batter for a pitch or two to label a ball that I just caught. While I’m looking down, I listen for the crack of the bat, and I know whether or not I need to look up. There’s a distinct difference in the sound between a ball that’s pulled versus one that’s hit to the opposite field.

Listenup_1(Is this freaking you out? Tell me you can do this, too.)

Foul tips have their own special sound. I can’t really describe it—it’s more of a click than a crack—but I definitely know when one is coming. In 1999, back when I was a junior at Guilford College, a reporter from the Greensboro News & Record went with me to a minor league game. I took him out into the parking lot behind home plate just in time for the first pitch and told him I wasn’t going back inside until I got a foul ball. He started asking me why it was a good spot and how many I’ve caught and how long I thought it was going to take, and I started explaining my strategy.

What happened next?

Read his article.

And please keep in mind that my grand total of 2,653 does NOT include minor league (or spring training) balls.



    You are right Zack. RFK is an easier ballpark without BP. I got only one ball today with BP at RFK, it’s tougher because the players are paying more attention to the batters than anything else. O well. By the way, you must have a mighty fine ear.


    Hi Zack, I realize you don’t collect minor league baseballs, but about how many do you have? And from how many different leagues?


    Yea I can do that too…I think it just comes after you hear the sound of the bat and are watching, then your mind just builds in a “memory” of it.

  4. Zack

    I don’t think it has to do with the players’ attention. I just think that when there’s no BP, there aren’t as many fans, so it’s easier to get balls thrown to you. At a place like RFK, there’s no room to maneuver in BP so the size of the crowd really makes a difference.


    Neither. Like Mike said, it’s just one of them thangs, a natural phenomenon that develops on its own over time.


    I’ve probably collected about 100 minor league balls. I got most of them in 1995 when I was interning with the short-season Class-A Boise Hawks of the Northwest League. I got a dozen (or so) Pacific Coast League balls a few years back in Tacoma. I got another dozen from the South Atlantic League earlier this year in Greensoro. (I was there on May 5th and wrote a long entry about it, in case you want to check out my archives.) I got a Southern League ball in…like, 1996. I got an International League ball during a game in Pawtucket in 2000. And that’s about it. I’ve never gone out of my way to get minor league balls. If I ever happen to attend a minor league game, I’ll show up early (if I can) and bring my glove, but 99 percent of my ball-collecting energy is spent inside major league stadiums.


    Well said. I’m glad I’m not the only one. I was starting to worry.

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