A bit of trivia: In the course of the typical professional baseball game today, as many as three or four dozen regulation baseballs are likely to be used in the course of the game's play. Not only are some lost to eager fans when a ball goes into the stands, but they are also replaced as they become soiled during the game. Many years ago, only one ball would be used per game unless it was hit out of the playing area or became too damaged to continue using. Balls became increasingly dirty throughout the play, and in games that lasted into the evening, they sometimes were difficult for players to see. In 1920 a batter named Ray Chapman was killed by pitched baseball that hit his head. It was speculated that he was unable to see the ball as the accident occurred at twilight. From this point on, balls tend to be replaced as they become soiled or worn. A clean ball is easier to see than one stained to match the playing field.
Official baseballs have run the gamut over the years in terms of construction. Many of the very first balls were actually homemade by the players. Other early balls were small (only about three inches in diameter) and had a solid rubber core. When solidly hit by a wooden bat these baseballs would go tremendous distances as a result of their "bounce" or elasticity, when hit. Other "dead" balls had little bounce. One of early baseball's home team advantages included the right to choose the ball, which was influenced by the skill or lack thereof of a team's batters. If the home team had great batters, it choose the bouncier ball. If its key players were in the field, then they chose the less elastic ball.
Today baseball construction is meticulously regulated. Each ball has a core of cork covered in rubber. This core is covered with as much as a mile of wound yarn, the tightness of which is strictly managed as the tension on the yarn also affects the speed at which the ball rebounds off the bat. The yarn layer is covered with alum treated leather, and 108 double stitches are sewn to close the leather of each ball precisely by hand.
I’m sure you’ve heard the old adage from your elders that “back in my day, we only had one kind of this and one kind of that.” Well pops, the times they are a changin! In the baseball world, there are more options for all products than ever before. Never has that been more evident than in the selection of baseballs for your practice and league play. There are a number of companies that manufacture baseballs, and each one has their own unique model number for the different balls they make. From the outside of the baseball to the inside, the materials used vary from leather, vinyl, plastic, cork, etc. The league or governing body that you play for will determine which baseballs can be used for game play. If you are unsure of which baseball is acceptable for the league you (or your child) play in, contact a league representative, check the league website, or contact one of our friendly and knowledgeable sales reps. You won’t get thrown a curve ball with our straight-shooting team of experts!