Sports involving balls have different forms of stitches and denote specific meanings. If you are a baseball fan, you must have noticed that the baseball is thoroughly stitched to give the final shape. Have you ever wondered how many stitches are on a baseball?
There are 108 double stitches in a baseball, and the first and last stitches remain hidden. The ball is hand-sewn and combines two figure-8 patterns with 216 single stitches. These stitches are then leveled with a rolling machine before reaching the market.
Stitches of baseball showcase waxy red threads and such balls are standardized for use in the sport. However, the common question is – why 216 stitches? What is the need for double stitches? This article addresses several questions surrounding the stitches of baseball.
Baseball and Stitches
Baseball stitches aren’t new since their prevalence is related to the early 1900s when leagues promoted specific color schemes and patterns for balls. However, MLB standardized the stitching method and color.
A baseball has three sections – exterior, middle, and core. The stitching happens in the exterior part. The midsection contains two figure-8 patterns made of cowhide leather. These patterns are still followed in existence to give a proper shape.
Baseballs are also called lemon peel balls because of their fluffy outlooks and multiple sizes. As MLB has systemized the size and shape of the ball for professional leagues, more attention is paid to stitches.
How did MLB identify and fix the number of stitches?
This YouTube video addresses how quality, weight, and performance are critical in a ball and how the number of stitches is closely linked to performance.
Stitches of a baseball have high roughness that enhances resistance to movements, thereby adding air drag during games. When players adjust variables like mass, dimensions, and wind speed to improve the ball’s quality, these variables promote smoothness in flow and stabilize the momentum of a ball.
On the other hand, the Magnus effect concept comes into the picture. When the ball has an eight-pattern comprising 108 double stitches, it allows one side of the ball to achieve higher velocity and enable a spin. This is the primary reason to include stitches and follow a pattern to get it done.
Why Do Baseballs Have 108 Stitches?
Baseballs have 108 double stitches that confirm the correctness of dimensions and appropriateness for aerodynamic accuracy. The other reason is that 108 double stitches cover the ball completely, so the ball is ready to be exposed to tension and temperature-controlled environments.
To cover throughout the ball and give it a complete look, 216 single stitches or 108 double stitches are required. As soon as a baseball is stitched, it is then left under a temperature-controlled facility where it gets checked for tension, grip, and aerodynamics. After these tests are completed, the baseball enters the rolling unit, where the machine gives the final touch.
The presence of these stitches also confirms the trajectory and flight orientation. Every baseball is made up of multiple layers, including cowhide leather, inner cork, and wool yarn. The 108 double stitches on baseball enable the ball to move through the air despite varying wind conditions. Even before the ball reaches the hitter, these stitches provide additional grip and leeway for the ball to adjust its trajectories.
Why Does A Baseball Have Red Stitches?
MLB passed a league-wide standard in 1934 for balls with 108 double-stitches made of waxed red thread to promote visibility and commonality. This was decided after baseball had stitches in unique colors in the American and National Leagues.
During the 1900s, baseball was practiced in two different leagues – American and National. Baseballs in American League had stitches in red and blue, while those in National League comprised laces in black and red.
After denying the use of black and blue in stitches, the MLB insisted on red because it is evident and also matched with pitcher’s uniforms. The MLB rulebook discouraged the presence of numbers, symbols, or letters on pitchers’ sleeves. Likewise, their gloves needed to be brighter to attract visibility. In similar lines, MLB chose red for balls.
Perhaps, batters could easily spot the direction of the ball when the color is red. As a result, famous brands like Rawlings sporting goods applied heavy red stitches to attract larger crowds and achieve visual clarity even at a distance.
Major League Baseball (MLB) also uses unique balls for special occasions, and these are represented with different colors of stitches. All-star games are better examples to illustrate these distinctions. These balls include stamps and different colors with texts. These make great memories among players.
How Many Double Stitches On A Baseball?
Baseballs have 108 double stitches, and this MLB standard is constant to date. These stitches are hand-sewn and promote grip for players.
Instead of single stitches, the common practice is double stitches for baseballs. The primary purpose of double stitches is to ensure that pitchers can throw various pitches without having to worry about the quality of the ball or its seams.
The gripping method enables the pitcher to change pitch trajectories and also experiment with different spins.
Are Baseballs Still Stitched By Hand?
Baseballs are hand-stitched at the first level and then sent to a rolling machine to achieve the desired shape. The process takes 15-20 minutes per ball.
The stitching process incurs enormous effort and dedication. As soon as it is hand-sewn, the ball is then left inside a rolling machine where extra threads are eliminated, and adjustments to shape are needed in 15 seconds. The main reason to prefer hand-stitching is due to its precision. Leagues believe that hand-stitching can add perfection and meet the criteria.
Here is a video detailing how a baseball is hand-stitched for Major League Baseball.
Background Of Rolling Machines
Various baseball manufacturers include rolling machines to even out stitches. Rolling machines involve stitching technologies that improve quality and achieve economics despite hand stitches.
Here is a figure that explains what goes into covering the ball with a sewing machine:
The complete development of a ball begins with the hand procedure and progresses to rollers, where detailing is achieved. So, what is the difference between baseball available in the market and those used by MLB players?
Rawlings Sporting Goods has secured a contract to manufacture professional balls meant for MLBs. However, baseballs available in the market are produced elsewhere, and most of these balls do not undergo hand-stitching.
If the ball needs to be used in a professional league, it needs to hold a high degree of perfection. Otherwise, it becomes unusable. Amateur baseballs are commercial pieces meant to enable more people to practice, but they cannot replace professional baseballs anytime.
According to The Atlantic, professional baseball has a lifespan of six pitches, after which another ball replaces the previous one. To play each game in a series, about 5-6 dozen baseballs are required. These account for around 500 balls for a season. While Rawlings Sporting Goods, Inc. has made several attempts to automate stitching processes, all attempts went in vain because there is the likelihood of quality compromises in mass production.
The history of stitching machines for baseballs explains how numerous attempts to improve stitching have gone in vain and the need to commercialize this trade.
Nevertheless, leagues are more hopeful about more brands that can manufacture baseballs as per the dimensions and MLB rules in the near future.
My Favorite Baseball Equipment
Thanks for reading this article. I hope it brought you great value that you can implement into your own life! Below you can find my favorite baseball bat, baseballs, and a glove that I think will take your game to the next level!
- Bat: My favorite baseball bat is the Easton Project 3 Fuze. This bat has a composite end cap, reduced post-impact vibrations, balanced swing weight for the fastest swing speed, and a carbon core that makes this bat perform very well! As I’m not a professional baseball player, I like to use alloy bats as you can swing faster and hit further.
- Baseballs: Rawlings Competition Grade Practice Balls are my choice for something to hit. I love these balls because they fit all levels of play, so regardless of who you are playing with, you can use them. They come in a 6 or 12 balls box, and you can choose between raised or flat seams! I prefer flat seams as the balls tend to fly further!
- Glove: When it comes to the glove, my choice is the Rawlings Sandlot Glove. This glove is available for both lefties and righties. The same glove is also available for infielders, outfielders, pitchers, catchers, and 1B mitt. This glove has a nice vintage look, and it’s made from oiled leather. It has palm pads that protect your hand from impact, and it is pre-broken-in, so you are good to go as soon as you have it! A glove I’m proud to recommend.
- Fan Equipment: If you’re a fan more than a player, you don’t want to miss Fan Equipment by Fanatics. You can find items from various sports that bear your favorite team’s logo, such as jerseys, gift ideas, or other surprising things.