Ball hawk may be a relatively new term, but the hobby is as old as baseball itself. Ball hawks are people who attend games just to get balls players hit into the stands. While many of the people clambering for balls are children, ball hawks tend to be people in their late teens or adulthood. The concept is interesting, but it is a way to get a lot of fun out of a hobby.
If you are thinking of taking up ball hawking, first know that you cannot be overly picky about the games you attend. Sure, grabbing a homer from a Yankees-Red Sox game would be great, but ball hawks get most of the baseballs they gather from less legendary games. Check out the schedule for local minor league teams first. These teams often have much lower ticket prices, which make the hobby more affordable for potential ball hawkers. Our local AAA team, for example, sells tickets for $5 each. Though the tickets are not for great seats, that is not the point if you are planning to hawk balls.
Instead you want to be able to get into the park for batting practice before the game starts. You will get most of your balls during that time as the players tend to hit more balls into the stands during that time. Before you head to the game, you should decide on a couple of things.
Why are you ball hawking? Are you planning to keep every ball you catch and display them somewhere? Or are you planning to sell them? How will you mark the balls you catch? The easiest way to mark the balls, which you definitely will want to do, is to get a thin-line pen marker and put a number on the ball. Then take a notebook with you and write in the notebook the pertinent information about each ball. Include the date, game, and who hit the ball. Then you will be able to refer to it later if you want to share your collection with others.
If you are planning to sell the balls, either on eBay or using some other method, then you need to try to ensure other people of your authenticity. How are they to know you are not just some schmuck who is selling balls he bought and rubbed in the dirt? One of the most modern ways to show others that you are serious is to have a blog. You can start a blog for free and then write in it about which games you will attend. Include pictures when possible and then put information on how many balls you caught. That way people will have a way to verify some of your information instead of just going on your word.
Now, do not go into ball hawking thinking that you will get wealthy doing it. Chances are that you will never catch a ball that will go for thousands of dollars. Instead you may earn a few bucks here and there, especially if you save minor league balls until the players hit the majors. Then they will be worth more money.
Once you have an idea of what you are doing, you can plan out your ball hawking. In reading about people who ball hawk, I learned that they seem terribly organized about their hobby. These people keep up with the schedules of the teams they plan to follow. Many of them have goals for their ball hawking as well. They may want to gather balls from every starter on a certain team or from certain rookies. These ball hawkers set their schedules to coincide with the baseball games they want to see.
All you need for this hobby is a notebook and a love for baseball. While you will be spending money to get into games, you may be able to make up some of it with selling the balls. Plus you always get to enjoy the game as well, so you are not throwing money away. Instead you have a way of turning a basic outing into something you can enjoy for many reasons.
So if you are a sports fan, take up ball hawking. It is a great way to have fun and foster your love of baseball.