Frequently Asked Questions
What’s the difference between an “Official Baseball” and an Unofficial Baseball?
First and foremost, nothing is set in stone for all varieties of balls, and these classifications are sometimes opinions. Here are a few common characteristics though that should help:
- Most official game baseballs from about the 1910s to present have an MLB commissioner’s or AL/NL league president’s stamped signature. That stamp has been on the “manufacturer’s spot” or the “front” league panel since the mid-1930s. Older baseballs often have this stamped signature on one of the side panels. A few game balls have no commissioner or president stamp, including most league ball prior to 1909.
- Official baseballs often have a stamp in that same front-center spot that clearly states “Official Ball;” “Official Game Ball;” “American League” or “National League;” or “*Official*” plus “Major League Baseball.”
- Official baseballs will have a manufacturer’s stamp on the top or bottom panel: Rawlings, Reach or Spalding for Major League Baseball balls.
- Official MLB, AL and NL balls’ covers are always leather; cowhide (1974-current) or horsehide (1900s-1973). There are very few exceptions, and they’re mostly prototypes, like the Charles O. Finley Orange Baseball and a few versions practice, BP or Spring Training balls are a lower grade leather, similar to MiLB Minor League game balls. Additionally, some prototypes or misprints have been found where official stamping was placed on lower grade leather baseballs.
- Photoballs and other synthetic-cover baseballs are not official game balls, they will never be used in the game and do not meet MLB specifications.
So you’re not interested in “Unofficial” baseballs? Why? No, not really. The official game ball made it to the show, whether its game used or not, it’s been added to the 40-man roster and available for use in MLB games. It’s the one and only type of ball that meets the strict standards of Major League Baseball. There are hundreds of very cool, very worthwhile souvenir baseballs out there, but this site is dedicated to the gamers. There’s just a certain mystique about the true game ball used by the most talented players in the world. It’s in a class of its own. And the rare ones carry a much greater value. Additionally, nothing beats the highest grade leather for autographs. Signature on vinyl and other non-leather or low grade leather often bleed and can fade. A proper penned signature on MLB grade leather can last centuries.
Why did you create a site dedicated to only baseballs? What about autographs? We are now working on a site for all sports collectibles and merchandise (www.BigLeagueAuthentics.com). But this is our original site, dedicated to one of our favorite hobbies. Collecting baseballs isn’t for everyone, and autographed bats, cards, jerseys and other memorabilia are the craze among many collectors. But there are thousands of websites, magazines and books dedicated to those. We simply wanted one dedicated place tailored this niche of the sports memorabilia and collecting hobbies.
OK, what’s so special about these official baseballs then?
Baseballs are the perfect keepsake:
- Authentic – An Official MLB Game Baseball is produced for the most talented ball players in the world. No other creation remains perched atop its industry with such unquestionable authority. Not even the iPhone.
- Symbolism – of American pastime, and embraced by many other countries cultures too – and baseball’s image and game is instilled in so many from generation to generation.
- Size - Snag a ball at a game and easily drop it right into your pocket. Any other item is too big, and cards and 8X10s need to be babied – one little crease and their value can plummet.
- Shape – Symmetry, nature loves symmetry and so do people. The baseball’s design makes it nearly perfectly symmetrical. It can be displayed from any angle, and it doesn’t need a $200 frame to show it off and keep it safe (ball cubes can be found for $1, even for free with purchase of a game ball).
- Aesthetic Appeal - Beyond its symmetry are the laces, a figure-eight pattern that perfectly aligns stamped logos, text, and autographs on the sweetspot. A pearl white cover; bold, colorful printing in a variety of fonts; commemorative logos; 108 red unifying double stitches.
- Cost – Retails for about $15-$25 for new regular season versions. How much is that Albert Pujols game-used photo-matched jersey going to run you? (Of course we’d like one of those too.)
- Availability - Produced by the millions, authentic baseballs can easily be found by the dozen, yet still retain value over more common mass-produced non-game items.
Are the baseballs on the site available for sale? BigLeagueBaseballs.com is adding an official web store for large quantities of game balls. Baseballs pictured in the Museum however are typically not sold. Their purpose is to inform and help all fans appreciate the events and games in which they were used, as well as help collectors determine what’s been made and used so they can find their own. Baseballs pictured on this site come from the collections of several Big League Baseballs owners, contributors and a few other sources.
I just really need one specific ball in the Museum to complete my collection. Can I please just get that one? Probably not gonna’ happen. If you email us at BigLeagueBaseballs@Gmail.com with a request, we will try to work with you to help locate a dealer or collector who might have that special ball for which you’re looking. And perhaps we have an extra we could sell too.
Will you consider a trade? Yes. If you have something rare that we might need, email us.
I have a ball or collection I’m looking to sell. Will you buy it? Maybe. We are always on the lookout for ours and other collectors’ needs. So if you have something available, let us know. We make reasonable offers based on value, condition and need. However, if it’s a very common ball or two that just came out within the last few years, we probably don’t need any more.
I have a baseball I don’t see pictured in the Museum, what do I win? Congratulations! We know there are varieties of baseballs out there that we’ve never seen, and we want to see them. We gladly accept donations, but in the event you aren’t in the gift giving mood, we’d greatly appreciate hi-res images of baseballs that aren’t on the site, and permission to post those images. Please send us an email. Chances are we’ll appreciate it enough to thank you in the blog (hooray!).
Is the information contained on this website 100% correct and factual and to be taken as gospel? No. We’re just collectors, retailers and fans, and a lot of this information comes from our research, personal experience and speculation. The histories of Rawlings and Spalding/Reach baseballs are just not well documented on the web. Consider most of what you find within the blogs and photos to be anything from educated guesses to mere speculation unless it comes directly from a quoted official from one the esteemed manufacturers of official game baseballs.
Are you affiliated with Rawlings, Spalding or Major League Baseball? No, not in any way. None of the views within this site have been approved by any of these entities unless specifically noted. BigLeagueBaseballs.com, its developers, and administrators are not affiliated with Major League Baseball (MLB), its partners and subsidiaries, or Rawlings or Spalding, and any of their partners or subsidiaries. Don’t sue us, bro, we’re just dedicated fans that are a bit overzealous about our hobbies.
Do I have permission to reuse, publish or STEAL photos or content from this site? Absolutely not. All information contained within BigLeageBaseballs.com is the property of Big League Authentics, LLC and Big League Baseballs, and should not be used without written permission from a site owner or admin. Visitors are permitted to link to this site and its pages however. Please, go out and spread the good word! If you do find a photo you’d like to use, just ask first. We’ll usually share for a good cause. We’ll even remove watermarks in some cases.
Comments? Tips? Suggestions? Photo Contributions? Monetary or Baseball Donations? Email us at: BigLeagueBaseballs@Gmail.com