Balls and Blacklights

So, this was a small project that I had wanted to do for some time. With midterms *briefly* slowing down until tomorrow, I had some time to get this done. If you read Zack Hamples blog, you know he does this thing where he shows you the invisible ink stampings on the balls he snags. If you aren’t sure, here is an excerpt from one of his posts about it:

I learned about the invisible ink while doing research for my new book — and then I got to see the ink being stamped on the balls when I visited the Rawlings baseball factory in Costa Rica.
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.
                                                              – Zack Hample

So there you have it. Which, would also explain why out of the 81 balls I have snagged, only 16 have visible stamps under a UV Light. The light was actually very cheap, and it works great. I got it on Amazon, the link is  here if you’re interested. So, I took some photos of the ones that have stamps. Here we go:

ImageThat one has a “234” under it.

ImageThat one isn’t as visible. My guess – 130? Who knows.



ImageThis one showed up really well. 264.

ImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImage And there you have it. Pretty cool, no? So out of the 81 balls I have, 19.7% were stamped. Then I put my balls back into storage:

Image And made sure to keep the commemoratives separate:

ImageLet me know what you think! I’ll be at Citi Field in a week! Snagging and baseball are around the corner!


  1. Paul K

    Great entry! All of the pictures seemed to have a “glowing” effect to them, more than just the black light itself – it made the pictures look really cool! The percentage of my balls with ink was 26-28% – the percentage error comes from the balls that I gave away.
    -Paul K

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