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A View From the Bleachers


I know-you read the title and got all excited, right? That's what happens when someone starts hinting that commemorative baseballs might be in use at a game you're going to attend. It makes the process of trying to snag a baseball at a big league game just a bit more enticing. When I reach up to grab that BP homer and take a look at the ball in my glove it might have a little bonus: a commemorative logo!

Back in 2008 and 2009 I watched the blogosphere as ballhawk after ballhawk exclaimed that he or she had ended up with a commemorative ball from one of the New York stadiums. The Mets and Yankees were moving and baseballs were commemorating that. In 2009 and 2010 I longed to be in the Midwest as the Twins used commemorative baseballs for their exit from the dome and their emergence as an outdoor baseball team. I sat on the West Coast waiting... waiting for the All-Star break... and the 2011 season. Sure, I had my shot at a Yankees, Mets, or Twins ball... but I just couldn't get to the stadium at the right time. It was maddening! And even when I could make it to a game where a commemorative ball might be in use I just couldn't come up with one.

I had to settle for a DodgersWIN ball or a funny message from someone on the Brewers. Heck, even a Practice ball or a Training ball shook things up a bit. I never get tired of snagging a good ol' ROMLB. But, let's face it: everyone reading this has one of those. How many folks out there have a Citi Field Inaugural Season ball or a 2010 (or any season) All-Star Game ball? I do... now.

In a way, I wish I'd never heard of commemorative baseballs. I'd have been quite content to go on snagging the standard kind. But, like a kid who sees the newest version of the game he already has, I found out that MLB had different, special baseballs and I needed to have them in my life.

After the All-Star Game in 2010 and a trip to New York that netted me a couple Citi Field balls my thirst for more was quenched... for the season. Then I found out that the Angels would be using commemorative baseballs to celebrate their 50th season in existence. Finally, the ballpark in my neck of the woods was going to be the home to some shiny new (and muddy) commemoratives! I was psyched... and at my first game of the season I snagged a ball from a Blue Jays pitcher during warmups, turned it over in my hand, and saw the commemorative logo on the ball.

How'd I feel? Ecstatic-and then I wanted another one... one that didn't have a smudge on the logo. Now, four games into the season (for me) and six commemorative baseballs in, as well, I can't wait to snag another one. As a matter of fact, even as I snagged seven baseballs at my last game I was a little disappointed-because they had all been standard. It wasn't until I got my eighth ball in the 9th inning that I was satiated for the evening. Weird, huh? I guess I'll be spoiled once 2012 rolls around... unless I take a trip to Florida, right? Aren't the Marlins getting a new stadium?

The point is, commemoratives remind me of when I used to collect baseball cards (or, as the younger kids might remember, Pok?mon cards). They only made so many cards of the more popular players (like Nolan Ryan or Cal Ripken Jr.) but they made a ton of the cards of players you'd barely know existed... Pat Dodson, anyone? Or... if you got a foil Blastoise or Charizard you were sittin' pretty-they didn't make too many of them. Well, after the 2011 season is over they won't make any more Angels 50th Anniversary baseballs... so I'd better snag a bunch of them while I can, right? How about fifty 50th baseballs?!?

Feel free to chime in with your favorite commemorative baseball-or anything. Commemoratives make collecting stuff a little more exciting. It makes you work a little harder-they're tougher to acquire-they're limited in quantity.

Snagging a commemorative ball is a great feeling. You all have one, right? If not-go get one-even if you have to take a trip. Go for it! It's a whole new feeling of success as a ballhawk and I'm sure, if you're anything like me, that you'll feel great when that limited edition ball finds its way into your glove.

Matt Jackson is a contributing columnist to and also maintains a Blog.

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