While flailing away on a climbing machine at the gym today I came across an economically interesting factoid from a September issue of ESPN Magazine. I’ll get the specifics wrong, but the details were something like this: Baseball permits fans who catch errant balls to take those balls home; football forbids that sort of thing, and even has a fine for rule-breakers.
Why the diference? Largely because, or so the article argued, baseballs are much cheaper than footballs, so respective league organizers have different views of things.
But here’s the fun part. Because major league baseball permits fans to take balls home, huge numbers of balls exit the park every night. In addition to the foul balls hit into the stands, there are others, including some from players who are fond of tossing balls out after the third out and other plays.
The result: Baseball’s annual cost from baseball shrinkage is something like $500,000, while football’s losses are a fraction of that.