The 216 – The Baseball That Never Was
The game of baseball: a game of numbers, a game of statistics, and at its core, the very baseball itself. But to think of it as “simply a baseball” is to completely ignore that each baseball has its own story.
As the Official Ball Supplier of Major League Baseball since 1977, Rawlings produces every authentic, on-field baseball for baseball’s top professional league. With this in mind, Rawlings is uniquely positioned to provide a forum for these unique stories: from Rawlings’ official 1986 World Series-branded baseball that snuck beneath Bill Buckner’s glove, to stories and essays we will invite you to provide, detailing the circumstances of that foul ball you caught, or the autographed baseball that sits inside a cube on your work desk.
To tie the baseball and the mythology of numbers in baseball together, this section of the new Rawlings.com will be called “The 216” in honor of the 216, single red stitches that make up an official Rawlings baseball. These 216 short stories will clearly underscore that a Rawlings baseball is more than “simply a baseball.”
What better way to launch this collection of baseball experiences than to talk about the “baseball that was never used”...the Rawlings 1994 World Series baseball.
At the time the 1994 season was officially cancelled, the playoff teams included New York Yankees (East), Chicago White Sox (Central), Texas Rangers (West) and Cleveland Indians (Wild Card) in the American League, and Montreal Expos (East), Cincinnati Reds (Central), Los Angeles Dodgers (West) and Atlanta Braves (Wild Card) in the National League.
After narrowly missing the 1993 postseason when it finished three games back of the eventual NL champion Philadelphia in the NL East, “Les Expos de Montréal” were poised to make a serious run at the World Series title when the season abruptly ended due to the players’ strike.
The Expos finished the 1994 season at 74-40 for a .649 winning percentage, four games better than the AL-leading Yankees.
Long-suffering Expos fans finally had a team that would not be the pushover teams the National League rolled in the years before – and after – the strike-shortened season. With five All-Stars that season, future star Pedro Martinez leading the pitching staff and 1994 manager of the year Felipe Alou helming the team, this was the Expos best chance to pop champagne throughout October.
Unfortunately, the strike and the team’s subsequent return to the National League’s bottom dwellers drove away even the most ardent Expos’ fan, yet these fans do have one collectible to remind them what could have been: the Rawlings 1994 World Series baseball.
Due to the fact that Rawlings produced the same number of the 1994 World Series-stamped baseballs for use during the games and to sell to collectors as the company did since it became the Official Baseball of MLB in 1977, supply far outpaced demand, and continues to do so to this day. The official 1994 World Series game ball can be found in collectible stores and online auction sites for $10-$20.
This is a small price to pay for a fan base that not only missed a chance to see its team in the postseason, but eventually see their franchise move to Washington, DC for the 2005 season.