by Craig Paulson
Collectors of autographed balls have gravitated toward the official World Series baseballs when adding signatures to their collection or buying balls already signed.
During the 1970s, Rawlings became the exclusive producer of the Major League Baseballs and in 1978, to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the championship series, they chose to produce a special baseball featuring a commemorative logo stamped on the ball. This was done to make the balls unique from the regular baseballs used throughout the regular season. It proved to be a hit.
The 75th World Series, which matched up a classic rivalry between the Dodgers and Yankees, began a tradition that has remained throughout the years with a new ball produced for the Fall Classic every year, each being distinct and commemorative of that particular championship.
Some of the most special World Series baseballs produced were those produced in 2001.
Rawlings had already started production on the baseballs that were supposed to be used during the 2001 World Series, an epic confrontation, it turned out, between the Diamondbacks and the Yankees.
However, after the events of September 11, the production of these balls was halted and instead, the company chose a ball and logo to remember the tragic events of that day and all of those who lost their lives. A special baseball design with the American flag was produced and used for the first pitch of each game in the series.
Another ball was produced without the flag and was used during actual game play. It, too, was different than those that had already been in production. Instead of the standard MLB logo at the bottom of the ball, a patriotic symbol was placed on the bottom and the standard red, white and blue MLB logo, was moved to the top of the World Series logo.
The 1989 World Series baseball is also an interesting memento. As anyone over 30 remembers, ust prior to the third game of the Oakland A’s against the San Francisco Giants, a major earthquake struck the Bay Area, shaking Candlestick Park and causing hundreds of death and major damage throughout the region. The Series was postponed for 10 days.
Another historically significant World Series baseball is the one from 2003 that featured a special 100th anniversary banner stamped on the logo. During this historic series the Marlins were able to edge out the Yankees.
Beginning with the dawn of the new century, the official World Series ball includes gold lettering and logos.
Sensing a desire from collectors for another option, MLB also looked for a way to update the official World Series ball to reflect the participants.
In 2010, Rawlings made changes to baseballs that they issue for sale to collectors that are not the ones used during World Series play. Each November, Rawlings had been producing baseballs featuring the logo of the winning team and the scores of each of the games in the series on the opposite side. However, in 2010 they chose to put the logos of both the Rangers and Giants, the two teams that competed in the series, on the ball.
Since the first one was created, official World Series baseballs have become great collector items by themselves, but they stand out even more when signed by members of the winning team, Series MVPs, winning pitchers or by players involved in a historic individual play.
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