The Evolution of the Baseball
- The baseball was made of hard rubber until 1910.
- At the suggestion of Philadelphia Athletics owner, Ben Shibe, the cork-center became the major league standard in 1911.
- A new (Australian) yarn that could be wound more tightly was added in 1920.
- Beginning in 1920, umpires were required to replace the ball whenever the one in play became scuffed; prior to that, baseballs would be used as long as they remained in one piece.
- In 1926, a cork center of the baseball was added.In 1931, a thin layer of rubber wrapped the cork center, slighting deadening the ball. The seams of the baseball were also raised to enable to the pitcher to get a better grip on the ball for better rotation on breaking balls.
- In 1974, for economic reasons, cowhide replaced horsehide as the baseball cover.
- Rawlings Sporting Goods has been making baseballs for Major League Baseball since 1977.
- Rawlings produces about 750,000 annually for Major League Baseball.
- Each ball is hand sewn with exactly 108 stitches at the Rawlings Factory in Turrialba, Costa Rica.According to Major League Baseball specifications, the balls “shall weigh not less than five nor more than 5 1/4 ounces avoirdupois and measure not less than nine nor more than 91/4 inches in circumference. “
- Major League Baseball average 65 balls per game.
- The average life span of a major league baseball is 6 pitches.
- The major components of a baseball are manufactured in the United States, such as the cork, rubber, yarn, stitches, and cowhide, and then are assembled in Turrialba, Costa Rica. Baseballs have been stitched in Costa Rica since 1990.
- According to The New York Times, the average baseball worker in Costa Rica makes $2,750 a year.
- The ball consists of a cushioned cork pill, surrounded by three wool windings, and fourth thin winding of cotton threat.The fourth winding of the ball is coated in a thin layer of cement to hold everything together.
- The two cowhide pieces are then sewn together by hand with 108 stitches to cover the windings.
- The seams of the major league ball are rolled to compress them to be essentially even with the leather cover of the baseball.
- Major League Baseball’s, name, logo, and commissioner’s signature are then printed on each baseball before being shipped to major league parks. Decorative stitching and logos are used for the All-Star game and World Series. –Bill Lucey
January 23, 2018
Source: Major League Baseball, “Materials in Sports Equipment’s” by Aleksandar Subic