Ever notice while watching a MLB game, any pitch which strikes the dirt, the catcher will automatically hold the ball up for the umpire, who takes the scuffed ball while giving the catcher a new baseball, then throws the scuffed ball towards the Home Team dugout. Ever wonder why?
Pitchers at the Major League level are so talented that any scuff of the baseball, no matter how small, through wind resistance, could create more movement in the baseball when thrown, thus giving the pitcher an unfair advantage over the batter.
This seems a reasonable explanation for throwing hundreds of baseballs, per team, out of the game during the course of a season. Since the scuffed balls are always thrown towards the home team’s dugout it’s safe to assume the balls are then used by the team in batting practice as well as infield / outfield drills.
Every now and then, especially after a player hits a home run, or other significant hit, the television cameras will pan inside the dugout showing the celebration activities of the players. During these dugout scans it’s not unusual to see a police officer or security guard sitting inside the dugout with the players.
Unfortunately, with the state of violence in today’s world, it makes perfect sense to have an officer stationed inside the dugout in order to protect players from an unruly fan who may try to enter the dugout from the field.
Up until yesterday I firmly believed these self deduced explanations for the two events was totally true. I mean my explanations are rational and make perfect logical sense, but embarrassingly for me, only partially correct. In fact if pushed for accuracy I’d have to admit, very slightly correct.
So what is the accurate explanation for these two matters? Ironically they are both part of the answer. This is wild, let me explain.
I was right about the scuffed part. The baseballs are deemed unusable after hitting the dirt, although that brings about the question of why every baseball isn’t discarded after being put in play.
Anyway, the baseballs are thrown to the home team dugout, but not to be used for batting practice or infield / outfield drills, but are given to the officer in the dugout for official recording, tagging and identification of the ball. Ironically, the officer is in the dugout for security reasons, but he’s to protect the scuffed baseballs, not the players.
The officer files a report on every baseball which includes, but is not limited to, the date of the game, the pitch count when the ball was discarded and who the batter was at the time.
These baseballs are then placed under strict security by the MLB and transferred to New York City where they are auctioned off. This identical scenario occurs in every major league baseball park, every game, the entire season.
I’m told there is an huge demand for these baseballs by fans who attended the game for some significant reason, such as they proposed at the game, it was announced the wife was pregnant and whatever, whatever.
It’s not every day I announce to the world I’m wrong, actually terribly wrong, about something, but this so intrigued me I just had to let everyone know about it.