These days, when a ballplayer hits a milestone home run, he can expect a shakedown, the Wall Street Journal reports, especially if he’s dealing with a professional “ballhawk.” This new breed of savvy memorabilia collector actively hunts big balls, and usually expects a nice haul of swag in return—a typical ball might fetch a signed jersey, a few signed bats, and tickets to upcoming games.
Ballhawks don’t just go after headline-grabbing milestones, either. They track which players are nearing even minor milestones, like their hundredth home run, or which rookies are still hunting their first. Then they study their target’s spray chart to figure out where the ball’s most likely to be hit to. If the slugger doesn’t pony up, the ball goes to auction.