Sports leagues are trying to reopen during the COVID-19 pandemic to give us all a distraction from the hellscape we live in, with mixed results. As we write this, exposure to the virus has already knocked out players on several teams. And organizations are having to rapidly adapt to the bizarre realities of games without fans. Major League Baseball has stocked the stands with cardboard cutouts and pre-taped audio to simulate the experience, but there’s one thing missing: what happens to home run balls?
One of the most satisfying and exciting things that can happen as a baseball fan is seeing a dinger come over the fence heading your way and being the lucky person to grab the ball. That’s the kind of souvenir that can become a family heirloom, or make you some coin on eBay if you get it signed by the player afterwards. But with the seats occupied by fake fans, home run balls and fouls are just clattering to the ground neglected.
Different teams are taking different approaches. The Minnesota Twins have positioned staff members in the stands to retrieve balls and sell them later, or return them to the batter if they marked a special milestone. The Astros are mailing some of the balls they retrieve to season ticket holders, while the Cubs are finding the ticketholder who had a seat nearest where each foul ball landed and sending them the ball. It’s a bizarre problem to have, but that seems to be the whole thing here in 2020.
Read more at Sports Illustrated.Get your balls in the game! Donate to the Sean Kimerling Foundation to win the battle against testicular cancer.