This is the story of how I came to collect minor league baseballs …
In the mid-1990s I saw an ad in the back of USA Today’s Baseball Weekly. This was a weekly newspaper featuring nothing but baseball (later it became Sports Weekly and included football, which was an unwelcome intrusion. The internet finally killed it.) The ad was for a five-dollar logo ball from the Cedar Rapids Kernels. I thought the logo was great, and something about a snow-white ball with just a logo on it, no team name or any writing at all, appealed to me.
That opened me up to other minor league teams: the creative names and the eye-catching logos spoke to more intimate baseball. These are local attractions and sources of pride, and each seems to have its own personality. There were a lot of teams, but these logo balls were only a few dollars apiece. I figured I could build a neat collection without spending a lot of money. I was about to learn a lesson in collecting.
Then came the true origin of the collection as it is today: In 1996 I attended a Heartland League game in Anderson, Indiana, home of the Anderson Lawmen. I don’t remember who the visiting team was. I managed to snag a foul ball, and noticed the league stamp on it. That ball can be seen here.
That triggered a shift in my interest away from novelty logo balls to official league baseballs. At the time I was thinking there are fewer leagues than there are teams, so this might save me some money in the long run. That was not the first nor the last time I’ve been spectacularly wrong.
When the Heartland League folded after the 1998 season, I began to think about other leagues that had come and gone. I began to dig into the history of the minor leagues.
I quickly found that there were quite a few sources on the history of the various minor leagues, but not a lot of information on the official baseballs they used. Entire volumes and websites have been dedicated to the official Major League ball: its development and manufacturing and the various and sometimes subtle changes over the years in details such as the stitches and stamping. Almost none of that information is available for the minor leagues, anywhere.
Almost none is not none; you can visit the few sites I’ve found with information on official minor league baseballs on the Cool Links page.
Still, it became apparent that the information I wanted was either not to be found, or scattered piecemeal across the interwebs. I decided I should put something together myself.
So here it is. This site is an attempt to establish a research center for this admittedly niche corner of the baseball collecting market. I hope you find what you’re looking for. Please feel free to let me know if you find anything in error or have anything to add.