Official MLB baseballs are an iconic symbol of American sports. Every significant moment in the game’s history has a baseball related to it. The ball that Aaron Judge hit for his 62nd home run is worth an estimated $1 million.
These small little objects have so much cache, not just for players, but for fans all over the world that every year, millions descend upon MLB parks in hopes of catching a souvenir from the game.
Let’s delve into the actual process of how official MLB baseballs are made.
According to Business Insider, the process starts with a four-inch wide cork sphere which is cased in rubber and treated with a latex adhesive. The pill is then spun with yarn several times, increasing the diameter. This allows for the ball to take a beating from bats, gloves and the ground.
Following the treatment of the pill, the ball is then fitted with leather covers, which are then sewn by hand. Each ball has 108 stiches; the fault where the stiching goes is known as the seam. The baseballs are then stamped with the MLB logo and the commissioner of the MLB’s signature.
Although the balls used to be produced by Spalding in the USA, they are now produced by Rawlings in the town of Turrialba, Costa Rica.
Following production, the balls are coated in mud. Joe Bintliff, also known as the “mud man”, collects mud from the New Jersey bank of the Delaware river and uses it to coat about 240,000 balls every single season.
Each team has a minimum of 156 official MLB baseballs on hand to commence every game. That means that in a typical game between the New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox, well over 300 balls could be available. No wonder MLB is happy to let fans take the ball if they catch one.
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