Now you see it, now you don’t!

A little over a year ago, Zack Hample wrote a blog post called “Baseballs and black light”. He explained that there is invisible ink on every Official Major League Baseball, but the only way to see it is by under a black light. I found this very interesting so I decided to try this on my own. This is what I found:

FLASHBACK: 2010 Season (3 Games) – 1st of the day – Career #3:

Out of my 42 baseballs, I could clearly see ink on 11 balls. This raised more questions like, “Where did the ink come from?”, and “What is it used for?” To answer these questions, I revisited Zack’s blog post.

Here is the information from his entry that answered my questions:

“There are 350 employees at the factory who do nothing but stitch baseballs all day — by hand. Every employee has a stamp with a unique serial number. When the balls are done being stitched, they get stamped with invisible ink. That way, if an inspector finds a “correctable flaw” on a ball (for example, a stitch that’s not quite tight enough), he can examine it under a black light, mark down the serial number, and send it back to the person who stitched it. It’s basically an extra method of quality control.

Even though every ball gets stamped with the ink, you won’t always see it on the balls you get a hold of — that is, if you bother to go out and get yourself a black light. That’s because every ball gets wiped with a cleaning solvent at the factory. The purpose of the solvent isn’t to remove the invisible ink. Rawlings doesn’t care about that. The solvent is used to remove excess wax or oil that might’ve found its way onto the cowhide cover, and in the process, the invisible ink is often rubbed off.”

You can read the rest of Zack’s blog entry by clicking here.

To finish off the entry there are pictures of baseballs from my collection, that have black ink.

5/9/12 @ Target Field – Angels vs. Twins – 2ND of the day – Career #5:

5/9/12 @ Target Field – Angels vs. Twins – 4th of the day – Career #7:

5/25/12 @ Target Field – Tigers vs. Twins – 2nd of the day – Career #10:

5/28/12 @ Target Field – A’s vs. Twins – 1st of the day – Career #12:

5/28/12 @ Target Field – A’s vs. Twins – 2nd of the day – Career #13:

6/13/12 @ Target Field – Phillies vs. Twins – 1st of the day – Career #18:

6/18/12 @ Miller Park – Blue Jays vs. Brewers – 1st of the day – Career #20:

7/18/12 @ Target Field – Orioles vs. Twins – 2nd of the day – Career #23:

8/28/12 @ Target Field – Mariners vs. Twins – 4th of the day – Career #30:

9/28/12 @ Target Field – Tigers vs. Twins – 1st ball of the day – Career #39:

I have 2 people to thank. First off, thank you to Zack Hample for writing such a great entry about baseballs and the black light. Secondly, thanks to my friend Asher for letting me borrow his black light. You both helped a lot!

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14 comments

    • Paaoool123

      The first time I looked at a baseball under the light was in May, but just recently I looked over my whole collection. It took a long time to look through my 42 baseballs, but it was worth it. I think that its something that you should do too. Its neat to know which baseballs have “secret codes” on them 🙂

  1. tonyv433

    You have inspired me to take photos of my collection under black light now. I’ve seen it on Zach’s blog, but having all of them together in one page looks cool. Silly thing is that I have a black light and look every once in a while, but you might be the push I need to blog about it.

    Hope all is well! This offseason is getting LOOOOOOOONG!

    • Paaoool123

      Thank you, i appreciate it. I guess a little inspiration goes a long ways. Like I was telling Mateo, it took a long time to look through and photograph all of the baseballs, but it is definitely worth doing so. Let me know if you decide to blog about it, I’ll be eager to hear about it!
      -Paul

  2. Pingback: The Magic Number (Black lights and baseballs) « A Piece of The Game

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