Being one who is fascinated with how things are made and what work is involved in making something out of nothing, I couldn’t help but wonder about the making of a baseball. I found the actual art in their making to be a topic of great interest. Take a moment and really think about what the ball means to the game and just how important its composition really is. As young kids, my brother and I had unraveled a baseball just to find out exactly what was inside. As kids, we dreamed of the treasures we could find inside this tightly knit package.
As far back as 1872, there was a standard set of requirements of the professional league of baseball as to the composition of the ball. These guidelines consisted of:
- Pill– The pill is the innermost making of the baseball. It is actually a sticky sphere like cork product. It is amazing to me that this gem is really smaller than a golf ball, but it does make sense when you think of it in relation to the distance both are able to travel.
- Plywool – They use a combination of four and three plywool to wrap the pill in. While the process is initially done by hand, as with everything else, a machine takes over to ensure perfection and diameter sizing. I would have thought that with so much wrapping, it would cause the ball to lose flight aspect, but it appears that it only enhances it flow and rate.
- Smooth Surface– You would think with the prior step they would have enough wool on the ball already. However, in this step, a thinner poly wool blend is wound onto this home run ball that will give it a smoother surface.
- Resilience– I was interested in finding out why there are so many levels and types of wool used to produce the baseball. It turns out that these combinations of wool are what is actually responsible for the resilience or its ability to maintain its shape no matter how many RBI’s, Home Runs or even doubles that the ball has assisted in producing.
- Center– It is yet another term to identify the prior four steps. The center is the culmination of the wools being spun together and layered. Upon completion, it will measure just four point four ounces.
- Figure Eights– is a loose identification to the shape of the outside leather surface of the baseball. These shapes will lay over the center that has been spun through an adhesive and allowed to dry for about 48 hours.
- Stamping– Prior to the sewing being completed, the loose leather covered balls are stamped for easy identification and then wrapped in damp towels to loosen and maintain a pliable leather covering. Afterwards, the leather is removed and a roller applies the glue that will cement the leather to the core to resemble what we see as the baseball.
- Stitching– Once the glue has been completed, the final sewing is meticulously done and waxed to ensure that all one hundred and eight stitches will hold long and tight. A tool is then run around the ball ensuring the v shaped pattern and then spun to smooth the seams before the league’s logo, trademarks and signatures are stamped onto the world series winning hopeful balls.
While reading, understanding and visualizing the composition of the baseball, I couldn’t help but to be completely amazed at the sheer amount of time and work involved in such a small ball with such a huge impact on the sporting world.