How Baseballs Are Made

Published on: October 20, 2017

What Is The Process For Making Baseballs?

Earlier this year we had a post about 10 interesting baseball facts we thought a lot of people didn’t know. There are even more interesting facts surrounding the actual baseball. Did you know that prior to the year 2000, even though they were both made by Rawlings Sporting Goods, American League baseballs were stamped with “Rawlings” and National League baseballs were stamped with “Spalding”? The process that goes into making a ball is quite interesting as well.

10 Fun Facts About Making Baseballs

A Rawlings Official Major League Baseball (ROMLB) must meet certain specifications in order to earn the title ROMLB. Here are 10 fun facts about how baseballs are made.

  1. ROMLB’s are made in Costa Rica at the rate of about 80,000 per year, while the ROMLB counterpart, the Rawlings Official Minor League Baseballs, are made in China.
  2. Baseballs contain a cork center called a “pill” that is wrapped in two thin rubber layers. The pill weighs exactly ⅞ of an ounce.
  3. Pills are wrapped with 121 yards of four-ply blue-gray wool, 45 yards of four-ply white wool, and 150 yards of fine white poly-wool blend. This as all done by machine so the yarn remains under constant tension. Once the wool is added the pill becomes a center.
  4. The cowhide used in the ROMLB’s is from the U.S. and is inspected for 17 different defects before being used. It gets its white color from the process of alum tanning which is done in Tullahoma, TN. The cowhide is then shipped back to Costa Rica for the rest of the manufacturing process.
  5. The center is coated with adhesive and two pieces of cowhide, shaped like the number eight, are placed on the adhesive.
  6. 88 inches of 5/10 red cotton thread is used to stitch the cowhide covers. They are stitched by hand using 108 stitches taking about 10 minutes.
  7. Once stitched, the ROMLB’s are machine rolled for 15 seconds to flatten the stitching. Then the Rawlings trademark, MLB logo, and commissioner’s signature are stamped on the balls and allowed to dry for one week.
  8. Each ROMLB must weigh between 5.0 and 5.25 ounces as well as meeting diameter requirements of 2.86 – 2.94 inches and circumference specifications of 9-9.25 inches.
  9. Once the baseballs meet the above specifications, a random selection of balls are shot from an air cannon at 88 feet per second at a wall made from northern ash, the same wood used to make baseball bats.
  10. Major League Baseball teams rub their baseballs in a special mud from the Delaware River in New Jersey. The mud gives the ball its off-white appearance and allows pitchers to have a better grip and more control over the ball.

Prior to the year 2000, major league baseball used league specific balls indicating whether they were for the National League or the American League. If you are lucky enough to own one of these baseballs, or any other Major League baseball, you’ll want to make sure it’s protected. BallQube has display cases to meet all your needs, including UV protection and stackability.