December 15, 2012
So, now that the season is over, it's time to get down to the business of labeling & displaying our baseball collecton. My question is, how do you label and display your baseballs? What do you do with all the balls that you snagged at the ball park? Which balls are the most precious to you? Do you ever play with any of your baseballs? I get people all the time that ask me, "what do you do with all the balls you snag?" How am I supposed to answer this question? I answer it honestly; I tell them that I love to snag them, and keep them in a big Sterilite tub in my living room...I admire them for awhile, put the good ones in ball cubes, and keep the rest of them in the tub. When people get smart with me, I tell them I put all my balls in the bathtub and roll around in them... a' la Zack Hample's photo!!! Oh well!
But seriously, how do you label your baseballs? Do you write on them? Do you number them? Do you just throw them in a big plastic trash can and leave them in your garage and forget about them? Do you give them all away, or do you donate them to a local baseball team? Do you sell them on Ebay? I hope not!
I'll tell you what I do with mine, but first I'll tell you what drives me crazy. I don't like watching kids play with their mud-rubbed game balls just tossed to them by some superstar player over the dugout! I know they are just kids and all, but don't their Dads have some sense of nostalgia to know that that ball might be worth some big money someday if the kid gets that players signature on it, or the sentimental value of knowing that Roy Halliday or Tim Lincecum (future HOF-ers) just tossed your kid that ball ? I always tell the kids to put their ball in a ball cube, and put it up on their dresser when they get home, and don't play with the ball. KIDS...DON'T ***PLAY*** WITH YOUR GAME USED BASEBALLS, OR ANY OTHER GAME USED PIECE OF EQUIPEMENT GIVEN TO YOU BY A MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL PLAYER ...cherish them & display them! Keep them for posterity. Sorry, I had to get that off my chest, now back to labeling
I don't know how you guys keep track of all your balls during batting practice, but I ***DON'T*** write on my baseballs at the ball park like I see most of the other ball hawks do. I have a series of colored bags that I keep in a larger bag in my backpack. I have approximately 20 small colored bags inside the one large bag inside my backpack. This bag system does two things for me; 1.) it allows me to separate my balls into categories during BP, so that I can quickly dig out an Easter Egg to give away to a deserving little kid ...this way I don't have to dig all around in my backpack to find one, taking forever too, and 2.) it keeps my baseballs DRY, and in their original state. I don't like when my baseballs are bouncing all around in my backpack rubbing all the dirt & grass stains off of them. This helps especially with "Umpire balls" that have that nice "dusty" feel to them. This way they stay in the bag, and get to keep that original dusty feel when I get them home! One more by-product of my bag system: it's hard for people to STEAL my baseballs! Yes, I've had some of my baseballs stolen out of my bag while I'm shagging balls at the park. I sometimes lay my bag down to run around to snag balls...I try and watch my bag, and most of the time my wife has my bag, but there are some "knuckle-heads" that would "rob you blind" during BP if you don't watch out. I put my bag of baseballs under my other bag in my backpack that holds my other team's gear, so that the bag of baseballs is on the bottom of my backpack...that way if you were to open and look into my backpack, you wouldn't see any baseballs in it, just bags.
Now, I put Easter Eggs in one color of bag like in a clear bag.. I'll put player toss-ups in another colored bag like white, gameballs in blue, and Umpire balls in red bags for instance. I usually snag approximately 3 to 6 balls a game, so it's not too hard for me to remember how I snagged what balls, and the color coding of the bags helps me to remember a little easier later. It gets a little bit more confusing when I snag like 10 or more balls in a single day. I then have to write down the info on paper of who tossed me the ball etc., then I drop the note in the bag with the ball (I keep a pad of post it notes & a few pens in my backpack), but I still keep the balls in their color coded bags. This system keeps me from having to write on my balls during BP, and putting ***SLOPPY*** numbers on them while I'm still in "snag mode". By the way, I'm not "dogging" on the guys that do it Hample's way, I'm just giving you guys & gals another option that you might not have thought about. Again, my bag system was bourne out of the fact that I was an Infantryman for 20 years in the United States Army, and that we in the Army put all of our personal items in our rucksacks in Ziplock bags to keep them dry when we would go to the field. There is nothing worse than wet socks; just like there is nothing worse than WET baseballs!!!
Well, like most of you out there, I do label my baseballs when I get home. I used to label them like I saw Zack Hample do his in his Youtube videos with PEN, but now I have a better idea for you, and it came from my wife. Yes, my wife is a ball hawk too, and she found a better way to label her balls without marking them all up, and keeping them in their ORIGINAL state! One day I looked at my wife's baseballs, and I noticed that there were no numbers on them, and I asked her, "I thought you were labeling your baseballs", and she said, "I did." And I said, really with what, "invisible ink"? And she said, no knuckle-head, I used a PENCIL, and I said where, and she showed me the number that she marked on the "sweet-spot" ever so lightly! And I felt like an idiot after that, marking my balls all up with a PEN. This way, you can keep your balls in a more natural state, and can even erase the pencil marks OFF, if you found out that the ball you had just snagged was a very valuable ball, or some players first home run ball, etc. I can't take credit for this; my genius wife gets all the credit for this one. I'm just passing this great technique on to you guys that she uses. Now I use her method on most of my balls. Also, if you were wondering if you can see the pensil marks on the ball, you can. You can also write/mark on them with the pensil as hard or soft as you want. One side note here; it is tough to mark on a ball that has a lot of grass stains on it, like the warm-up balls they use for infield practice. You have to either find a spot on the ball to mark on it, or don't mark on it at all, but now I'm going to tell you my other secret on how I lable my baseballs.
NowI, for my very SPECIAL baseballs, like Umpire balls, home run balls, third out balls, fouls balls, etc., I don't mark anything on them at all. I buy ball cubes for those balls, and write a little note about the event that took place, and I fold the note up, and place it under the ball in the cube. Of course I have a wall of ball cubes all stacked up with my favorite baseballs! Oh yea, for the balls that don't make the ball cubes, but are still inside my large plastic Sterilite tubs, and are "special balls to me", like coach tossed or catcher tossed balls at the bullpens, and have that nice game played look to them, I put them in Ziplock sandwich bags when I get home. Out of the colored bags, and into the sandwich bags! Again, this keeps them in that "game played state" even while they're in the tub with the other 300 plus baseballs for the season. P.S. Just a side note: I have two side goals when I am at the ball park ball hawking...1.) I try to snag toss-ups from FAMOUS pitchers, and 2.) I try and snag baseballs using my catchers mitt from the catchers, pitchers, and coaches (mostly catchers) at the bullpens when they are doing their side sessions! It's just something I like to do & get a kick out of.
Well, this is how I go about collecting, labeling, and displaying my baseballs. It starts with my colored bag system at the ball park, and ends with how I display them at home. So what do you guys think? I hope that this information will help you out...let me know if it did. Now you guys can ask for ball cubes for Christmas! Remember, my way is not the "be all, and end all" way...it's just a way! As always, have a ball...I will! P.S. Happy Holidays to you and yours!
Rocco Sinisi is a contributing columnist to myGameBalls.com.