Friday, July 10, 2009

Collecting the Sox: Baseballs

As far as Red Sox collectables go, there may not be anything as basic as baseballs. They are a pivotal part of the game, and have made a wonderful collectable for generations.

These days the ease of collecting baseballs is growing. They’re available in lots of places they might not always have been. Obviously, they’re available at ballparks, and sporting goods stores. I’ve seen them as give aways at gas stations and fast foot restaurants. They even pop up at Wal-mart and Target with regularity. That all makes the decision of which ones to collect all the more important.

One category involves “official” baseballs. These are the ones they actually use in games. They could be actually “game-used” or just up to those specifications. In addition to the standard issues that they use in every game; they sometime create commemorative baseballs for use in specific games or series. Some Red Sox related versions might be the World Series balls, or the 1999 All-Star ball from 1999. Or, in 1999 they used a special ball at all regular season games at Fenway. That made another unique official ball. The game used versions can be general. It could simple be a ball that was used in a game. Or, very specific. Collect foul balls hit by Kevin Youkilis, or home runs hit by David Ortiz. Obviously, those might be harder to find and verify, but it can be done.

The other section of baseball collecting is the commemorative balls. If you stop by Fenway, the souvenir stands are full of novelty baseballs. Maybe they have a special ball for Opening Day, or an interleague series. Maybe a ball featuring a specific player. There are balls that celebrate Fenway itself that make a nice addition to a collection, especially if you add it to balls from other parks. The possibilities are almost endless.

One thing many collectors like to do with their baseballs is to get them autographed. The ball makes a perfect display for a signature. It makes an ordinary collectable into something special with the stroke of a pen. Just about any variety of baseball would be great to get an autograph, although the official ones are the most popular. (I wouldn’t recommend using a game-used ball for a signature though. The mud they use on the balls tends to not work well with the autograph)
In addition to the variety, one of the things I like best about baseballs is their size. They’re just a few inches in diameter. A simple bookshelf or bureau top can hold 15-20 balls nicely displayed. A simple wooden washer is all you really need to keep them in place. A plastic case will allow you to stack them, and prevent them from rolling around. But, again, you don’t need a whole room to house the collection.

Baseballs are also relatively inexpensive. An official version may run you $15 at Target. A novelty ball will fall in the $10-20 range. Obviously, an autographed Ted Williams ball will probably push most budgets. But, otherwise, it’s a pretty cheap way to collect your favorite team.

Baseballs are one of my favorite collectables. Their size and colors make for an attractive display. I have several options available to choose from, and can tailor the collection any way I see fit. If I were going to choose a collectable to focus on, I’d probably pick baseballs. They’re that cool.

Anyone collect baseballs?

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