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Are You Allowed To Keep The Ball You Got At The Ballpark?

An easy-to-follow flow chart

Pittsburgh Pirates (4) Vs. Boston Red Sox (1) at Fenway Park Photo by Jim Davis/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

So, you’re going to a baseball game! How wonderful! There’s no better way to spend an afternoon, I say, then by watching your local 9 at the ballpark, a hot dog in one hand and a tasty brew in the other, soaking in the spirit of sport and community.

But there are a few things you should know before you head out to the old ball yard. First, peanuts have waaaaaayyyy more calories than you can possibly imagine (seriously), so take it easy on those jumbo bags that are 50% salt to begin with. Second, no one wants to hear the story about how far away you parked; it is extremely uninteresting, as are you. And third, you should be aware that balls from the playing field can and frequently do go flying into the stands.

How exciting!

‘In truth, there may be no greater thrill to be found at a baseball game than that which comes with catching a home run or foul ball. But. . . what do you do with the ball after you've caught it? You now hold in your hands 1 of the approximately 1.2 million baseballs that Major League teams will use each year, a 5 ounce bundle of cork, yarn, and horsehide that retails for $18.64 on Amazon (with display case.) To complicate matters even further, it’s possible that ball in your hands has, due to the context in which arrived in your hands, increased in value, both monetarily and/or emotionally. Do you keep it? Cash it in? Offer it to someone else?

It can be a difficult decision. And if you get it wrong by, say, refusing to return the first home run hit in America by a Japanese player who has spent decades working hard to achieve that very goal (for the sake of discussion, we’ll just make-up a name here: how does Masataka Yoshida sound?) then you risk becoming an internet and social pariah. That’s not good!

Luckily, we’ve got you covered. Read on and you’ll find a flow chart that will help you determine what to do with a ball that has made its way into your hands at a baseball game. Print this picture out, stuff it in your fanny pack, and take it with you the next time you head to the ballpark. You’ll never be caught unawares again!