For Major League Baseball’s first century, especially the first fifty years or so, it was a rare sight.
Baseball teams were notorious for watching their pennies. A ball that went home with a fan or collector was money down the drain.
At least that’s how they used to look at things.
It’s become a goodwill gesture, spawned in part by the 1994 strike when the powers that be asked players to be more fan friendly. Handing over game-used balls was an easy way to do it.
The New York Daily News goes inside the freebie free-for-all.