Ever since I was a little kid, I loved collecting baseballs.
But not the autographed ones but regular baseballs I used to throw and catch with my friends.
It didn’t matter if they were dirty or shiny. I even collected broken baseballs because I felt a tinge of sadness and just could not throw them out even when seams were coming apart.
There was just something calm about feeling the leather and seams on a baseball in my hand. As weird as it may sound, they were like my close friends.
Fast forward many years, my love of collecting baseballs began when my children started playing, partially out of nostalgic habit but more out of necessity.
How many baseballs do You need?
If your kid is on the very young side (say 7 or 8 years or younger), you only need about a dozen or so age appropriate baseballs.
As your kid learns how to properly swing a bat, you will need about 2 buckets of baseballs to hold a time efficient hitting sessions (each bucket holds about 2 1/2 dozen baseballs).
If you are a coach or manager running practices, you will need about 4 buckets of baseballs.
Obviously a brand new, four or five dozen baseballs, would be the quickest way, but at minimum of $40 (high school level baseballs go for around $75), that can get pretty expensive.
So what are your options?
Used Baseballs on the Cheap
The first place you should check is your local Craigslist site. Just type in “baseball – autographed -signed -collectible” to get a listing of available new or used baseballs (minus signs are to filter out those terms).
If you live in AZ, CA, FL or TX (or in any other year round hot climate), you can find plenty of listings all year. If you live in a colder climate (like NJ), you tend to see listings mostly during spring or fall.
The price depends on supply/demand, condition and how desperate sellers are bur you can usually expect to pay something like:
- New, leather cover: $1.50 – $2.00
- New, synthetic cover: $1.00 – $1.50
- Used (little wear), leather cover: $0.50 – $1.00
- Used (little wear), synthetic cover: $0.50 – $0.75
- Used (lots of wear), all types: usually referred to as BP (batting practice) baseballs; $0.25-$0.50
You can also try venues like:
- eBay Baseballs – good selection of bulk baseballs; try to find a seller near you to reduce shipping cost
- Close5 – mobile app only
- Facebook Marketplace
- Letgo – as of August 2020, Letgo is part of OfferUp
- Offer Up – some baseballs; lots of advertisers cluttering search results
You can also try your local thrift shops like Goodwill and others.
How to get free or unwanted baseballs
f you don’t have extra cash to buy baseballs, there are other ways they will take more effort on your part. If you check Craigslist often enough, you will see listings from people who just want to get rid of baseballs. Pounce on those opportunities as they will disappear quickly!
The other method of getting free baseballs is to scour the fields after a night game or practice:
- Games/practices with 10-14 year olds – older kids hit foul balls that can clear the backstop fence and go further
- Travel team games/practices are better than rec team games/practices – travel teams have more $$$ and coaches tend to care less about losing baseballs
- Fields with lower backstop fences – older kids tend to play on fields with straight backstop fences vs younger kids playing on quarter dome backstop fences. The lower the fence, better. Even better if the field is adjoined by a wooded area
- Holiday Tournaments – travel teams usually play on weekend tournaments and it’s not uncommon for a local league to host 50+ games on a weekend; if you get up early enough and scour the fields, you can usually expect to haul in quite a bit of baseballs
If you find wet baseballs
If you happen to find baseballs that are wet and soaked, they can usually be dried out and used as long as seams are not coming apart, . You just need to:
- Scrub off loose dirt
- Place them on a rack (to allow free air movement)
- Place wet baseballs out in direct sun for 2-3 days
- Then place them outside in a shade until they are dried
If the baseball is soak through and through, it will take a good 3-4 weeks to completely dry.
If the baseball cover is made of synthetic leather, it will take a lot longer, especially if it has tight seams.
In either case, make sure to weigh them (use a light weight mail weight scale like this one) to confirm that they are dry.
You DO NOT want your child throwing heavier baseballs due to increased risk of injury.
As the saying goes, if you have the will to do some work, you will be able to find a decent number of baseballs.
Consider yourself to be an environmentalist so don’t be shy about picking up used baseballs after a game.
If you don’t retrieve these baseballs, they might just be lost forever. Now that would be a sad end for such a great friend!