What qualifies as a “game ball”?

I just had this debate with a fellow baseball collector named Brad. He feels that ANY ball used in a game should count as a game ball. I’ve always felt that game-used balls that get tossed into the crowd are too easy and therefore shouldn’t count. I mean, if you’re sitting behind the dugout and the batter grounds out to end an inning and first baseman jogs in and flips you the ball, is it fair to say you caught a game ball?

Brad and I agree that there should be two categories of gamers: assisted and unassisted. Assisted means the ball was thrown or given to you. (Perhaps it came from a ballboy or usher or vendor or photographer or umpire or someone in the press box.) Unassisted means you got the ball without any help.

My unassisted total (which is the only total I’ve kept track of) is currently at 98. I wish I’d documented my collection ball-by-ball from the very beginning. It’d be cool to know the exact number of assisted game balls. I know it’d be well into the hundreds.

What do you think about all of this?
What counts as a game ball in your collection?
Do you differentiate between assisted/unassisted?
Will you start doing it now?


  1. Nick

    first comment…


    I’ve never gotten a game ball, so I haven’t had to distinguish yet.

    Back when I was about 4, my uncle caught a Chuck Knoblauch foul ball and gave it to me. Other than that, no game balls.

  2. riyeff.dave@mail.da.state.wi.us

    Hey, Zack…Good questions.Here’s my thinking…My 1st ball was a between innings warm-up ball- I got it from the right fielder. I was real happy that, at age 42, I finally got a ball. But, I’d spent my whole baseball fan life wanting a FOUL BALL, so getting this one didn’t take away that feeling that i hadn’t REALLY gotten one yet. When I got my 1st foul ball six years later, it was absolute euphoria and happiness and relief, too. THAT was a game ball. I’ve gotten a couple more fouls since, and for me, it’s definitely different. I really don’t look at the 1st ball I got any different than the batting practice balls I’ve gotten…definitly cool and fun to get them, but not the same. I think that when you catch a foul ball,or a home run, or ground rule double, for a brief moment, you are a part of the game. you’re not really, but when you catch it, you caught a ball off a major league bat in the middle of an on-going game. It sure feels like like the dream come true…playing in the big leagues, if only for one “play”. I look forward to reading others opinions on this. -Dave

  3. jimmyjoejoejrchabadu@hotmail.com

    Plan any trips to out of town ball parks?

    Toronto is always nice.

  4. allmarsh@aol.com

    Hey Zack! Long time no speak!
    Happy New Year! I was talking about you with my significant other and she was wondering if you ever caught a ball on opening day? Have you?

  5. dodgerdude511@aol.com

    i think what makes it a game ball is the fact that It was used in the game you attended.

    If it was a ball that affected game play stats (such as foul ball= strike in total pitch count; tossed ball after third out affects batters and pitchers stats)

  6. gregorybarasch@yahoo.com

    While I do agree that we need to distinguish between “assisted” and “unassisted,” we also need to further define “unassisted.” For example, what if, by some miracle, a wild pitch or passed ball hits a giant rock and bounces into the stands and you catch it. How does that factor into the argument?

  7. Zack

    No game ball for you? Darn. But you know what? The fact that you’ve never caught one puts you in a unique position of being able to chose how to document your collection of gamers FROM THE START. And just ’cause you’ve never caught one doesn’t mean you can’t chime in with your opinion. So go for it…


    Beautifully said. There IS something magical about getting the ball directly off the bat…even if the ball lands in the seats and you grab it.


    No plans yet. I’m sure I’ll go to Shea, Yankee, Philly, and Baltimore this year, but beyond that, I have no idea. I’ve been talking to a friend about going to Pittsburgh, and of course I’m considering St. Louis for myself. Possibly Fenway, too. But Toronto? Dunno about that. If someone paid for my trip, I’d be there in a flash, but it’s a lot of money (and time) for me to spend on a place I’ve already been to several times.


    I think I’ve only been to Openintg Day once in my life…or maybe it was just a home opener…back on April 26, 1995 after the strike ended. I snagged two balls that day, but nothing during the game. I did get a scuffed Opening Day ball last year during batting practice at Shea. Check it out:



    That’s an excellent point, and that’s what Brad was arguing; any ball that was part of some type of action that would appear in the game log should be counted as a gamer. It’s hard to argue with that.


    Brilliant. So how WOULD you classify that type of snag? And along those lines, what if you were sitting six rows behind first base when Chuck Knoblauch (the fielder) airmailed one on an otherwise routine grounder and you jumped up and caught it? I actually wouldn’t count either of these two balls as “assisted” because they were accidents…unintentional phenomena…flukes. And yet they would have technically been thrown, or “assisted.” Oy.

  8. Nick

    I would say that ANY ball used DURING play would be a game ball. Yes, you could say a lot of the balls used in BP were once used in a game. So we would have to limit it to balls you obtained that day which you actually saw in play. Something like that. You could then make a distinction between unassisted game balls and assisted game balls.

    So Zack, when are we predicting ball number 3000 and game ball number 100 to come? April? May?

  9. trueplaya_202@hotmail.com

    what you consider assited should be a game ball

    and toronto is worth coming to. and besides you have the american dollar compared to our canadian

  10. gregorybarasch@yahoo.com

    Good point about the Chuck Knoblauch thing. Didn’t he hit Keith Olbermann’s mother one of those times?

    Personally, if I got a ball in one of these scenarios (wild pitch, passed ball, airmailed throw, etc.), I would probably call it a game ball, because I wouldn’t have planned it, just like a foul ball or home run. But I don’t know.

  11. hockeyguy1011@aol.com

    Hey Zack! Even though I don’t comment frequently, I read every single new entry, and this one sparked my interest. I believe we’ve talked about this one before. I’ve always thought of a “Game Ball” as the same as a “Game Used Ball”. If the ball was used in any sort of official game play, it is a game ball. The method or medium through which the ball reaches you can also help to designate whether or not, in your eyes, it is a “Game Ball”. But like you’ve told me, everyone has their different opinions and perceptions, and whatever makes you happy or you feel comfortable with is what you should go by. Personally, I say that a “Game Ball” is any ball used in game play, whether it be a foul ball directly off the bat or a ball hit for a double by David Ortiz that gets relayed back to Miguel Cabrera and then is tossed to you when the pitcher gets a new ball (HAHA).
    Anyways, I love the entries, keep ’em coming! And remember who was the first person to ever send you their own, original snagged baseball list, LOL


  12. Zack

    Good point about game balls being used later during BP. Hadn’t thought of that (in relation to this whole discussion). Not sure about BALL3K. I’d like to do it in Baltimore, but that might not be practical, depending on who else wants/needs to witness it. I mean, it might turn into some sort of media event…but then again, maybe not…so I need to be flexible with the date and location. Probably late April or early May. And on the east coast.


    I think you might be right about assisted balls. Just about everyone seems to feel that way. We Americans DO have a good dollar compared to you guys. Ha! (Too bad the rest of our country is in shambles.)


    I think he did hit Olberman’s mom. (Why didn’t she catch it?!) The planned vs. unplanned factor is an important one.


    Thanks for coming out of hiding to leave a comment. It’s nice to know that you’re still reading the blog, even from afar. Everyone DOES have a right to document their collection any way they want. Yes.

  13. senoroctubre@boston-redsox.net

    this is a pretty interesting argument that could go either way. i think both ideas are nice. but i really like the unnassisted, and assisted catagories.

    my totals: 1 unassisted

    0 assisted

  14. riyeff.dave@mail.da.state.wi.us

    Man, I’m enjoying reading everyones’ comments on the game ball issue…Greg makes alot of sense…if the ball you get was just involved in the game and you didn’t have anything to do with it getting to you (yelling out a request, waving your arms, etc) then it’s a game ball in my eyes. The only thing you had to do with getting it was being alert and into the ongoing action, and then being ready and quick when the unexpected, unrequested ball got to you. In other words, you made the play !!

  15. Zack



    But what if you’re sitting behind the dugout and don’t ask for the ball or wave or do anything, and you still happen to catch one that’s tossed after the third out? You know? It’s assisted, but you didn’t TRY to make it happen, other than sitting in a strategic spot.

  16. riyeff.dave@mail.da.state.wi.us

    OK, Zack, this is really getting fun! I love this endless scenario thing…if you get the 3rd out tossed to you without asking in any way, it’s still not a ball that you got during the ongoing action of the game. 3rd out? inning over!! But, don’t get me wrong…I get a ball like you described?? I’m doing a back flip with a :) on my face…For me, the toughest question was: What if Knoblauch airmails a throw into the stands and you get it? GAME BALL! You made the “play” during the game. P.S. it may have been that Chuck hit ON Keith Olbermann’s mom…I’m not sure…

  17. riyeff.dave@mail.da.state.wi.us

    Hey, Zack…THIS IS FOR SENOR…Senor–How did you get your ball? At what park,etc? I’d enjoy reading the story.

  18. Zack

    I agree. Much fun indeed. It’s nice to get to talk baseball in January. Meanwhile, where’s Senor? He seems to have deserted us.



  19. gregorybarasch@yahoo.com

    Good point about talking baseball in January. Although, it really feels like baseball season with this weather. Stupid global warming.

    As for my totals, here they are (VERY unofficial — in fact, they’re just educated guesses):

    Unassisted – 0 (dammit)

    Assisted – about 12

  20. senoroctubre@boston-redsox.net

    i have not deserrted anyone im just in school all day. any ways my story began at a red sox away game at anaheim close to where i live.

    ..chone figgins is batting and he hits a foul ball, i see the ball curve to his right and i stand up. but then the ball seems like its going to go in the second tier so i start to sit down. as i am doing so the ball hits the lightboard seperated the lower and middle deck and starts rolling down the stairs a few feeet away from me. i tell my dad im going to chase the ball but he doesn’t hear me and i dont bother to repeat myself. i bound down the stairs at the ball but i have reached it too late . there is a crowd scurrying around a chair where the ball has lodged itself. i start to head back but i still see no one has the ball yet cuz they all think one of them has it. i push myself through the crowd, but at the same time a big guy holding beer is reaching down in front of me. i push him aside with alittle too much force and his beer goes tumbling on my head and all over my shirt. but i don’t care. i want that ball. i still see the ball and i put my glove over it. seeing that i have done so, the other fans leave and when i open the glove i realize what i have done.

    and thats how i caught a foul ball

    1 month and 14 days later……………..

    i am excited! chone figgins is going to make an autograph appearance at a sports store near my house at the Irvine Spectrum!

    later that day…

    when chone figgins is signing my ball, i tell him that he hit this ball. he jokingly replies i did, well i bet it wasn’t a home run.

  21. Zack

    Educated guesses?! Say it ain’t so!


    That is QUITE a story. Thanks for sharing.

  22. riyeff.dave@mail.da.state.wi.us

    Hey, Senor….thanks for the story! you gotta love a guy who doesn’t let a beer shower slow him down. You had focus, my friend. You earned that ball. AND FOR GREG… congrats on the dozen (or so ) balls you’ve got so far… hang in there, and keep the faith…that unassisted ball will come.

  23. gregorybarasch@yahoo.com

    Yeah, I know! I can’t believe I didn’t keep good stats in the “early days” of my baseball collecting. I don’t even know what year I caught my first ball! Luckily, I haven’t caught a foul ball (whose details I would have mismanaged) yet. At least when I finally do, I’ll be capable enough to document it properly.

  24. gregorybarasch@yahoo.com

    Dave – Thanks. I mean, I’m always paying attention to the game, but I’ve only ever come close to a foul ball once (about three rows above my head). I guess there’s more luck involved than I’ve ever been able to control. But my day will come … some day.

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