How to Sign a Baseball – Pro tips and Proper etiquette for signing a baseball

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How to sign a baseball – tips for signing a team baseball, where is the “sweet spot” for signing a baseball, where to ask a player to sign for the most value, and more pro tips for giving and getting baseball autographs.
How to sign a baseball to get a valuable autograph, proper etiquette, tips from MN Twins Doug Bernier

About the author: Doug Bernier, infielder for MN Twins 2013 – 2015

I was 10 years old and we just finished our baseball season.  I was sitting at our local pizza parlor waiting for our team trophy presentation when our coach passed around a box of baseballs.  Every player would sign each baseball and a team signed baseball would be given with a trophy as a reminder of our year.

I was so excited to sign a baseball.  This was my first time and I wanted to make it perfect.  Should I print my name?  Should I scribble something no one could read?  First name only or should I write my whole name?  Ok I was ready to sign.  I grabbed a baseball and signed “Doug B”, I repeated this until every baseball was signed.

Fast forward to high school and I stumble across this signed ball in my room and I see how unorganized the signatures were and how 10 names barely fit on the baseball.  Our high school coach played in the big leagues and he showed us how to correctly sign a team baseball.   I was fortunate to learn this early in my career because I still play with players that don’t know the proper etiquette in signing a baseball.

-Doug Bernier

How to sign a team baseball

This is simple but not often taught, there are a few rules to follow.

  1. This is not a free for all.  Understand that 24 other players need to fit their names on the ball as well.  Don’t make your name too big.
  2. Turn the ball so the horseshoe is pointing down.   From this position make the first signature as close as possible to the top of the horseshoe signing from seam to seam.  The following signatures should follow just beneath, so they will be stacked on top of each other in an orderly row.  Keep your signature close to the one above yours.
  3. Leave the sweet spot for the manager.  As the signatures move down the baseball the seams start to get closer together.  Where the seams are the closest is the “sweet spot”.  There is only one, this is reserved for the manager.  The other sweet spot area can’t be signed because it is printed with the type of ball you are using.  The manager will sign across the sweet spot.  This is the opposite direction from every other signature on the baseball.
Proper etiquette and tips for how to sign a baseball

How to sign a baseball – If you are the only person signing the baseball, you can sign in the “sweet spot”

As you work down the baseball it will get more difficult to get your name on the ball because the seams get closer together.  Give it a little extra attention and you should be able to fit it in the small area.

My hope is to provide you with a blue print and tips for how to sign a baseball correctly.  It’s a little embarrassing not knowing how to sign a team ball when everyone on the team knows.  Be the teammate that can help others do it correctly.  It shows some baseball savvy, especially at a young age.

What kind of pen should I use for signing a baseball?

There are 2 good options for signing a baseball:
  • Fine point sharpie
  • Ball point pen – Think ink, NOT a gel pen.  Gel pens work great on paper, but they take longer to dry on a baseball and are pretty much a guaranteed way to end up with a smudged, smeared autograph

These are the two best options for a legible signature that won’t fade over time.

In my opinion

I believe its respectful to make your autographs legible.  If you have problems with your penmanship at least incorporate your uniform number into the autograph.  I know if many people want an autograph it’s easy to want to scribble and move on your way.  It doesn’t take much extra time to make it legible, the fans will appreciate it when your name is the only one they can read the next day.

Extra Tip for getting valuable autographs

(Also use these tips as guidelines for how to sign a baseball if you are the only player signing it)

If you want a player to sign a baseball for you and you intend for his name to be the only one on the baseball ask for him to sign it on the “sweet spot”.  This does two things.

  1. It makes the ball look nicer when displayed on a shelf or ball holder.
  2. It adds value.  The “sweet spot” is the desired autograph spot for autograph seekers.
More pro tips for serious baseball players

About Author

Doug Bernier, founder of Pro Baseball Insider.com, debuted in the Major Leagues in 2008 with the Colorado Rockies, and has played professional baseball for 5 organizations (CO Rockies, NY Yankees, PIT Pirates, MN Twins, & TX Rangers) over the past 16 years. He has Major League time at every infield position, and has played every position on the field professionally except for catcher. Where is he now? After 16 years of playing professionally, he is now a professional scout with the Colorado Rockies. You should click to watch this great defensive play by Bernier

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6 Comments

  1. I wont to be in base ball term and I wont to play I am very good if it baseball or softball any one of the two I will play when you see this can you please send your number please thank you I am very good please do it

  2. Balls should always be signed with a simple blue bic pen. (Never a sharpie). Cheaper pens (think hotel courtesy ones) and markers (even sharpies) will “bleed” and/or fade over time.

    • Tony,
      I agree that a simple blue pen is great for signing baseballs. But I do have to say that I collect autographs myself and some of the best ones were done with a fine point sharpie. Some of my autographs have faded a bit but the sharpie ones have not. The normal size sharpie is not good for signing. I do agree that cheap pens tend to fade faster. Thanks for your comment.
      Doug Bernier

  3. Thank you for your insight. I actually was employed by a minor league team for several years, and as a public fan host, I was actually asked for autographs on occasion. Of course, my autograph has no value whatsoever, but I would humbly and gratefully comply. But I quickly found that I needed to alter my standard signature in order to be more legible and more easily identified on a baseball.

    Anyway, I am looking to put a project together for my dad, who has been a lifelong Mets fan. I am hoping to gather signatures from some of his favorite historical players, including HOFers. In this case, I would assume the sweet spot would be reserved for Tom Seaver, although if I am able to get Willie Mays, that would be incredible. His favorite would be Seaver, but historically, I don’t think there is any doubt that Mays would rank above Seaver. Would you suggest the sweet spot be reserved for Seaver, or would any other HOFers (Piazza, Mays, Ryan, etc.) be offended sharing a ball?
    Thanks!

    • Kevin,

      What an awesome project! I’m sure your Dad will be speechless. I’m sitting here on the couch with Doug and we talked about your question. He says a shared ball is fine for a team ball. If you are at spring training or something and can get everyone to sign, then one baseball is fine. But he strongly recommends giving historical players and HOFers their own baseball. He says most would probably wouldn’t care if asked to share a baseball, but there is the chance you’ll encounter someone with a big ego and they don’t like it. Plus the overall project would turn out much nicer in general if each player signed a ball on the sweet spot and then you could present it in something like this http://amzn.to/1ODGdAG (or there’s larger ones, depending on how many signed balls you have.) Hope this helps and good luck! – Sarah and Doug Bernier

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