One of the most popular items to have signed by ballplayers, managers, and celebrities is a baseball. There is some form of nostalgia that goes along with a leather ball signed by someone you admire. If you want to start collecting signed balls, there are a few things to take into consideration.
Quality of Baseball
It is very important when getting into the hobby of collecting signed baseballs, that you buy high quality balls for people to sign. The absolute best balls for autographs are the Official Rawlings MLB Game Balls. They are pricey (around $15.00), but the quality of leather, and the ability to hold ink is second to none. Other variations of the Rawlings Ball exist; any solid leather balls tend to work for collecting. The key thing to look for when purchasing a ball is a solid leather cover. I would recommend if you want your collection to hold up well, buy the MLB Game Balls – they hold ink better than anything else on the market.
Rawlings OLB3 balls are not good for the purposes of autographing. The synthetic leather cover does not hold ink well; the autograph will fade out over time. Autograph collecting is a lifelong hobby. Finding a ball which has faded out can lead to severe disappointment down the road. I own two OLB3 signed balls that came in box lots of stuff I purchased, and both are faded out pretty bad.
The best ink for signing baseballs is a standard ballpoint pen. I prefer blue ink, but any color will work just fine. Sharpies used to sign baseballs just don’t look as good. Part of the joy of the hobby is to make sure that the ball is pleasing to the eye. When I try to get someone to sign a ball in person, I carry standard BIC Round Stic Pens.
Caring for the Signed Baseball
First, avoid handling the ball as much as possible before having it signed. Handle the ball by the side panels, to help keep oils off the sweet spot. Once you have obtained the signature on the baseball, do not touch it for at least an hour to prevent smearing. In fact, it would be better to not handle the area around the signature ever, because the oils from your skin can cause the ink to fade.
Storing and Protecting Your Collection
After it is signed, you will want to store the ball in a display cube that has ultraviolet protection to keep the ball from fading over time. I use the Ultra Pro UV Protected Ball Displays. If you do not have a UV Protected display case for a ball, store it away from direct light as best you can. Even after getting a case, indirect light is healthier for your collection.
Collecting autographed baseballs is a seriously fun and rewarding hobby. I hope this article gives you some helpful information about storing and preserving your collection.