#Shortstops: Around the World in 122 Days

Written by: Cassidy Lent

For the 2001 All-Star Game held in Seattle, Wash., on July 10, the ceremonial first pitch baseball had quite the story to tell before ever being thrown at annual event.

On March 10, the baseball began a world-wide tour, becoming the ceremonial first pitch baseball at 14 events in 12 countries, traveling more than 50,000 miles before arriving in Seattle. The ball was autographed by a number of different people, including Hall of Famers Juan Marichal and Tony Pérez, along with Roberto Clemente’s wife, Vera, as well as official representatives at each event.

According to a March 9 press release from Major League Baseball, “the tour…illustrates the worldwide popularity of baseball, both at the professional and grass-roots levels.”

Commissioner Bud Selig said: “The worldwide journey of the All-Star Game baseball is a true barometer of the international appeal of Major League Baseball. This year’s All-Star Game in Seattle will highlight the international flavor of the game, as exemplified by global fan interest, the remarkable international diversity of our players, and the well-traveled All-Star Game baseball.”

The baseball saw action in Venezuela, Mexico, Puerto Rico, Japan, Korea, Taiwan, Australia, United Kingdom, South Africa, Germany, Czech Republic and Holland before getting to Seattle for the All-Star Game. It saw Major League Baseball games, like Opening Day, as well as international league games and grassroots events.

This baseball didn’t just travel in someone’s suitcase or with other baseball equipment. No, this baseball traveled in style, as evidence by the traveling case held in the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum’s collection. It is considered to be a “train case”, made of aluminum with a carrying handle.

The inside is lined with black board, along with a black satin holder for the baseball, and measures 7.5 x 5 x 4.75 inches. The case is mostly covered by several stickers from the various locations that the baseball traveled. The Museum’s collection also includes the autographed first pitch baseball, stamp, and inkpad, all related to this case.

The baseball and its case traveled to most of the continents in four months and helped to spread the reach of the game internationally.

Cassidy Lent is the manager of reference services at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum

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