Since I am off to a hot start this season in my quest to attain as many commemorative baseballs as possible (I am 2 for 2, with a total of 7 commemorative baseballs already in the 2014 regular season), I figured that it would be kind of fun to show of my humble little collection.
Even though I am relatively new to ballhawking (255 and counting) compared to the veterans in in the thousands, it still gives me great pleasure looking at the roughly 10% of my collection that are not your standard “Official MLB baseball.”
I’ll show off the autographed balls (not exactly commemoratives) and then get into the good stuff – each in the order that I snagged them. If you want to learn more about my adventures, just click in the “Ball #” link and it’ll go to the entry of that particular conquest. At the end I will even give a quick “Top 5 Moments in Commemorative History” – a short little anecdote for each of these “most special” memories.
I don’t like to get many of my baseballs signed, since I like to leave them as I found (or actually snagged) them, but there are a few instances where this just wasn’t possible or I just had to get an autograph. (All ball numbers refer to my career ball number.)
Trevor Plouffe signed tee-ball. Not very often that you catch a non-OMLB at a game, let alone a tee-ball, but that’s exactly what happen at the last game of the year in 2012. Fan appreciation means the team gives back and gives things away; balls thrown into the stands have to be safe, so these bouncy tee-balls are the chosen ball to sign and toss. As you can see, the signature is bleeding badly. Oh well, I have a cooler Plouffe autograph coming up later.
Andre Ethier was my first signed baseball that I snagged. Back in 2011 I was very much into getting autographs – I have the Twins team canvas to prove it – so when I snagged a ball and saw that Ethier was signing for tons of people? Yep, I had him sign my souvenir from BP.
The crown jewel of my autographed baseball collection and possibly the coolest experience in a baseball stadium. ROBIN VENTURA!! My childhood baseball idol not only stopped and said hello (as I spoke to him wearing one of his jerseys he wore back in 1997), but he gave me and then signed for me one of my favorite baseballs. Added bonus? It’s my 33rd of my career. My favorite number is 433, with 4 coming from Robin Ventura’s Mets tenure and 33 from my favorite hockey player, Patrick Roy (2333 would have just looked odd, even though I prefer and think of Robin Ventura as number 23).
While not a huge game in terms of number of baseballs, the haul from this game included the Tony Oliva autographed ball above and two pink Mother’s Day balls. I showed up ultra-early and got down by the Twins dugout (no BP, since it was a Sunday) and Tony-O was hanging out in the dugout. He saw me, and without me even asking or showing that I wanted a ball, he picked up a nice new baseball, asked for a pen and signed away. I cannot tell exactly what it says above his signature (‘Good Luck”?), but he was so nice that day – the most pleasant surprise I never asked for.
Ever heard of some guy named Byron Buxton? This minor leaguer, with no MLB experience, was kind enough to scribble on a perfectly clean baseball… Oh wait, he is supposed to be really good? Rated #1 prospect in all of baseball?! Glad I got this guy, totally by chance, too! (Your sarcasm-o-meter should be going off now.)
This is the main attraction, people. In my short time of ballhawking (just about 2 years full-time), I have amassed a collection that I adore. Part of the reason why I keep going is just to get my hands on these rare breeds – the balls that most regular people don’t even know exist.
After getting my first ball in 2009 (after nearly 20 years of wishing and hoping), I found out about the Target Field ball and knew that I would chase after one. Pretty awesome that my second ever ball is a “non-typical” (good term for you deer hunters, right?).
My first ever ball snagged at a playoff game (in BP) and it is once again a commemorative. Excellent! The logo itself is in PERFECT condition, too.
The last ball of 2010 came at the last game played at Target Field in 2010. A fitting way to end the first year’s fun ride at the new home of the Twins.
Though not officially snagged until 2013, I hoped beyond hope that the Marlins still had a few of these commemoriatves on hand during spring training. Judging by the next few photos, I’d say they had just a few left over.
My first ball hawked on video. This scuffed up, fully-flawed beauty came from a game that never existed – and that’s not just because it was a spring training game, it was never played due to rain.
Notice anything different about this ball compared to the previous two with the same logo? I didn’t notice it until I got home from my road trip and put them all in the same photo, but this logo is ginormous compared to the other ones. Anyone else ever seen variations this big in an otherwise “same” print?
After receiving my 100th career ball in the same game, ball #101 was a very pretty “Opening Day” logo. Dominique (the Twins’ bat boy) is a true legend, he will definitely be in my “top ten people to throw me a ball” list, should I ever make one.
Not to be outdone, Mario (the opposing team’s bat boy at Target Field) also hooked me up with the first batch of 2013 commemoratives in 2013.
I am not a fan of pink things – never have been – but wow! This ball design is one of my all-time favorites. Maybe it’s the unusual combination of non-red laces, and non-blue print, or maybe it’s just how the pink really grabs your attention, whatever the case it, this ball is fantastic. To be one of not on the few, but one of the first to snag these in the country was a huge bit of fun.
It is widely known that Trevor Plouffe is my favorite current player. His namesake is part of my blog-address, but that is not the full reason why this ball means so much. Trevor’s mother and my grandmother are both breast cancer survivors, so to have him sign this ball signifying a group-effort to end breast cancer (at least raise awareness and money for research) is the truly heavy reason behind this special hunk of string and leather.
Please go check out this blog entry. I will not bore you with a long-winded story. My first time out to Colorado was special for me in so many ways – this is just a memento to signify it in a tangible way.
Not getting a chance to snag this ball in 2012, I made it a goal (once I heard they may use it in 2013 BP) to snag one. It took nearly until first pitch, but Javier Bracamonte is the man. I’d love to have one “perfect specimen” of each commemorative ball, but literal beggars cannot be loud choosers.
Not really expecting to snag a commemorative, I picked up this well-worn/well-used baseball at the spring home of the Miami Marlins. A kind of fun way to get on the “commemorative board” in 2014, even if it was a duplicate in my collection.
This was a real surprise. Paul and I met up in Fort Myers and decided to take in “Fenway South” before spending a full day at Hammond Stadium. This was just one of the many balls that were wedged between the batting cages and outfield wall of a practice (MiLB) field. It was the closest one to me, so I went after it, turned it over to look at it and the logo SHOCKED me. Scuffed and slightly faded (due to some water exposure and outside elements), it still feels good to have the first of the two 100th anniversary balls of my collection.
Though I purposefully went to Wrigley in search of this ball, it was by dumb luck that I stumbled across my first example of this awesome ball. Read the story if you haven’t already.
Scuffed but a wonderful experience of my first ball snagged at Wrigley once the gates were opened.
Thank you, Ryan Howard. I was perfectly happy with my previous two Wrigley balls, but having a gamer as an example (rubbed in beautiful mud) is the ultimate. Anyone else score a Wrigley 100th yet?
Two things about this ball:
- I thought that the design would be the exact same from 2013 (with the updated 2014 date). I was wrong.
- I thought that the Twins would not use these balls, since I thought it was true Opening Days (March 31, 2014). I was wrong.
Chris Colabello must really love being in a major league uniform. The guy seems so happy and is always giving back to the fans when he can. Unlike some athletes that become reclusive from the fame, he wants to use that fame to make others happy. I’ve received a coupe of toss-ups from him as well as a bat, so this will look great in a collection.
Gamer!! Thanks again, Dominique! That terrible, nasty, totally unusable-thanks-to-the-blemish mark was the reason why it now sits in a plexi-glass cube.
The most recent (last) of my hopefully ever-expanding collection is the fifth ball in a row that is a commemorative, and part of a group of 7 of 9 that puts me at this great start in 2014. I cannot believe how awesome these all look together. With a few more additions (All-Star Game 2014?) I am hoping to have a killer display.
Top Five Commemorative Moments:
- Denver – The first road trip with the main purpose being a commemorative baseball. This would also be the first game in which I snagged a ball at a game where the Twins were not playing. it is also the furthest west I have ever snagged a baseball.
- Chicago – My first regular season game in 2014 was probably the first game where the Wrigley commemorative was used in a game (Opening Day the previous game?). The trip was fun and the experience fantastic.
- Mother’s Day – Like I said, one of my favorite balls when it comes to looks.
- Opening Day 2013 – This was the first game where I was forced to get a “gamer” if I wanted to get my hands on a commemorative baseball. The anticipation and anxiety was a bit intense, but I was so glad to come away with
- Astros 50th – Talk about nerve-wracking?! After I spotted the commemorative stamp on one of the balls earlier in BP (only in the bullpen pitchers’ ball bag), I knew that I had to get one. Waiting for the last possible moment was a bit cruel, but thank you to Javier.