While the state of the 2022 Major League Baseball season is still in limbo, that doesn’t mean we don’t still have baseball on the mind.
We’ve talked previously about baseball bats
, some of our favorite baseball stadiums
, and even how to properly break in your new glove
, but there’s one major component to the game that we haven’t discussed yet… the ball.
A baseball is the most essential part of the game. It’s what keeps the action going, it’s the main collectible for fans sitting the stands, and it also must be properly engineered to provide the best and most consistent experience for the players.
can technically be played with any ball you have laying around. Whether it’s a tennis ball, whiffle ball, or a softball, whatever you can find can be used for a quick pickup game. However, when it comes to professional baseball, there is a science behind the creation and development of the baseballs used in the game.
What Materials is a Baseball Made of?
When compared to other professional sports, the ball used in baseball is much different. Unlike basketballs and footballs, there is no air inside of a baseball. Baseballs more closely resemble golf balls than any other sporting ball because they are solid, but even these two balls have very different insides.
At the core of a baseball is made up of a small ball of cork that is encased in thin layers of rubber. This is known as the “pill”. The pill within a baseball must weigh roughly a half-ounce and be around 4-inches in circumference. This type of core was developed about 100 years ago and is still the starting point for modern baseballs.
The pill/core of the baseball is then wrapped tightly with multiple layers of yarn. This yarn consists of wool and poly/cotton layers that are tightly wound with the help of machines.
The first layer of yarn is made up of around 121 yards of four-ply blue/gray woolen yarn. The 2nd
layer consists of around 45 yards of three-ply white woolen yarn. The next layer moves back to the blue/gray woolen yard, with the final layer consisting of 150 yards of a polyester-cotton based white yarn.
This wool is important to the composition of a baseball as it allows for the ball to be a bit more flexible, yet strong and durable. If a baseball was completely solid, you would end up with a lot of cracked and broken balls when using them during a game. By using wool, you allow for the impact to be slightly absorbed by the internal make-up of the ball and allow for the ball to easily return to its original shape. The poly/cotton layer of the ball, the final layer, is designed to add an extra layer of strength to the ball while also reducing the risk of tears.
Obviously, we’re not out there playing baseball with balls of yarn, so there’s one more element that must be added before the ball is ready to be used during play.
For the outside of the ball alum-tanned, full-grained, white leather cowhide is used to create the iconic baseball look. The internal yarn ball is coated in rubber cement before the leather is applied to the ball. The leather is then hand-stitched creating exactly 216 red stitches around each ball.
When it comes to creating a baseball to be used in Major League Baseball games, it’s important that each ball meets the criteria set forth by the MLB. Each ball must weigh a certain amount, have a certain circumference, and have the correct amount of stitching. If any of these numbers don’t fall within the appropriate range for a baseball, it cannot be used.
Having a baseball that does not meet the requirements can lead to an unfair advantage or disadvantage for your team. These types of rules are in place to ensure that the game is as evenly balanced as it can possibly be without factoring in the skills of the players.
We all know that Tom Brady and the Patriots got in trouble for using under inflated footballs during a season, which supposedly gave Brady a slight advantage while holding and throwing the ball. So, imagine a similar situation if a baseball team was able to get their hands on incorrectly developed baseballs. These defects could cause a ball to travel further or come off the bat slower, thus giving the other team an advantage.
Making the game as fair as possible for all players helps preserve the integrity of the game, which is why it’s so important that baseball manufacturers adhere to these rules and continue to produce all Major League Baseballs in the same manner.