UPDATE: We purchased this ball and added it to the galleries. Check for a new post on the homepage with more pictures.
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Those absurdly priced 24-Karat Gold leather commemorative souvenir baseballs we blogged about a few weeks ago have risen from the depths of rookie-league ball. They’re now stepping up to the plate, and taking the field in the Big Leagues.
The lethal marketing claws of the MLB are digging in to our game’s one unwavering symbol of America’s past time – The Baseball itself. Now, 24K Gold-infused Baseballs are shedding the inferior “souvenir baseball” label and becoming… Rawlings Official Major League Game Balls — those that are so coveted by true game ball collecting aficionados like all of us here at BigLeagueBaseballs.com.
Now you could argue that this happened years ago, when the World Series and All-Star Game began featuring special commemorative game balls, unique for each event. But this one definitely feels different in my book – now it’s no longer about “making it special” – this is pure dollars and publicity, even though it’s now an official gamer, the priciest one (MSRP wise) ever to take the field.
So this raises the question, what’s the purpose of the current “gold” home run derby baseball that’s already being sold for the 2o11 Home Run Derby? Will these also be used during the contest?
It’s possible the plans for the real gold version weren’t conceived until well after the regular gold ball was put into production. Maybe sales of the 24K team balls were going so well, that someone with Major League Baseball or Rawlings had an epiphany of a marketing idea to expand the lineup and reach casual collectors.
Or, maybe they were not doing well, and they needed a way to give the expensive spheres some legitimacy by using the gold infused process on real live game balls. It couldn’t hurt if prospective buyers watched as the shiny gold balls are pitched to, and hopefully launched into the seats by the likes of Big Pappi, Jose Bautista and Prince Fielder, among others.
Is it an official gamer now in your opinion? That of course is the position if you consider the Home Run Derby that takes place annually at the All-Star Weekend Festivities to be an official Major League Game or Event. We here are Big League Baseballs do, which is why all Home Run Derby Gold, White and Futures Game balls are enshrined in our Official Museum of Baseballs.
Now, in order to keep our collection (almost) complete, we’ll need to add the new Official Home Run Derby (real) Gold Ball to our lineup. And at a healthy, punch-to-the-gut price tag of $150, it’s not going to be easy. Should we complain? Should we boycott? Doubtful. We all hope for new and interesting commemorative gamers to make it onto the field and into our collections every season.
We wait patiently the release of each commemorative ball and hope for a shiny new logo to adorn an MLB baseball as often as possible. But for some, this will likely be the point where you say “they’ve gone too far” and conclude that this one doesn’t belong in your display. Not at this price. Regardless, it’s official, according to multiple sources.
Gold-infused leather covers have been stitched to thousands (we’re estimating) of pills and are on their way to Chase Field in Arizona to be used as Final Out balls in the 2011 Home Run Derby. They will be hit into the stands, and lucky attendees of the 2011 Home Run Derby will take them home – game-used. And how cool that commemorative Major League baseballs are now being covered by Yahoo Sports! So I’ll add this one to my personal collection, and it will instantly make the top 10 of most expensive baseballs I own – but nowhere near the top for most valuable, rarest, or favorites.
We’ll reach out to dealers, and Rawlings to see what gives with the now “old gold ball,” but we’re not expecting much. It will probably be pawned off as a more economically priced “replica” for those who don’t shell out the big bucks for the real thing.
One final question then: If the Old Gold ball isn’t used in this year’s derby, what do you do with it in regards to your collection? To Big League Baseballs members, does it then get denied entry into the true game ball collection, and the coveted Museum of Baseballs?