Baseball is one of the most iconic pieces of sporting equipment in the world. Even in countries where baseball is not typically played, people will be able to recognize the baseball and immediately know which sport is being discussed.
The fact that baseball is such an easily recognizable sport just from the ball that is used is thanks in large part to the iconic stitching that the baseball features.
In this article, we will look at how many stitches are on a baseball, what they are for, and other interesting facts.
How Many Stitches Are On A Baseball?
There are a total of 216 stitches on a Major League Baseball ball. This means that there are 108 stitches that are visible on the outside of the ball, and the rest are on the inside of the ball.
The stitches are applied to the ball in two figure-of-eight patterns. These patterns are what hold the cowhide of the ball together to encase the core of the ball and the yarn.
At Major League Baseball and other leading baseball leagues, the balls used will always feature the iconic red, waxy thread for the stitching.
What Color Are A Baseball’s Stitches?
In Major League Baseball and other leading baseball leagues, the color of the stitches will always be red. This provides a clear and striking contrast between the white of the cowhide and the stitching.
This is also why other manufacturers and leagues also opt for a dark, solid color for their stitching. Popular alternatives include green, black, and blue.
This uniform color hasn’t always been the case for baseball though. The National League used to use black and red stitching on their baseballs, while the American League would use blue and red.
In 1934, Major League Baseball decided that all their balls should have a similar appearance. It was at this time that the color red was settled on and has stuck ever since.
Why Are Stitches So Important In Baseball?
At the base level, the stitching on a baseball is important as it is the thing that holds all of the components of the ball together.
Without this stitching and the shape of the stitching on the ball, the components wouldn’t be so well contained and structured.
However, the stitches don’t just have a practical use, they are also beneficial to the performance of the ball.
Without the stitching being present across the surface of the ball, it would be much more difficult for the pitcher to get a proper grip on the ball.
The grip that is produced by the stitching allows the pitcher to grip the ball well and also to throw different pitches with ease. With the stitching, you can alter the trajectory of the ball with simple wrist flicks and angles.
The stitching on a baseball also plays a crucial role once the ball has left the pitcher’s hand. The shape of the stitching on the surface of the ball can provide a better spin through the air and can be used to alter the direction of the ball.
This might sound detrimental if the ball doesn’t fly straight, however, the spin that the pitcher can give the ball can help control the speed at which the ball moves.
This can be a great tactic to put off your opponent. With the right grip and throw, it is still possible to throw a baseball perfectly straight.
How Easily Does The Stitching Come Undone?
If you have a high-quality baseball, it is pretty difficult for the stitching to come undone. This is because manufacturers of good baseballs spend a lot of time ensuring that the balls are properly stitched together.
A huge part of this is making sure that the final stitch of the baseball is hidden on the underside of the cowhide casing. This simple step ensures that the final stitch isn’t dislodged by the air as the ball is pitched or by the bat when it is hit.
However, despite all of the steps that manufacturers take to ensure that the stitching doesn’t come undone, these balls aren’t indestructible.
A ball that is used by a league team will face a lot of abuse during the course of a single game and this can cause wear and tear that can result in damage.
One of the most common reasons for a baseball to come undone is that a stitch has been cut. There are a few ways in which a baseball can get cut during the course of a game.
When the ball hits the infield dirt, hits the fence, or is crushed by a batter, this can cause cuts or tears in the ball that can cause the stitching to begin to unravel.
To avoid this happening in the middle of a Major League Baseball game, the league will replace their balls regularly.
At lower levels with smaller budgets, it is possible for a ball to begin unraveling during a game but this happens infrequently.
A baseball is still perfectly fine to be used for batting practice even if it is unraveling. You shouldn’t automatically trash a baseball if the stitching is unraveling.
The Anatomy Of A Baseball
A baseball is made up of much more than just the cowhide casing and the stitching. There are multiple components that are held in place by the casing and stitching.
Standard baseballs are covered with cowhide leather. If you purchase a cheaper baseball it may feature a synthetic cover but this will be a lot less resilient.
The leather covers provide a soft but durable surface for the ball. Despite the fact that baseballs don’t have a long life, this is not down to the cover.
The job of the stitches is to keep the cowhide cover in place. It is used to stitch the two pieces of the cover together. Half of the stitches are hidden inside the ball which helps with the durability of the stitching.
Yarn makes up a significant part of the baseball. The purpose of the yarn is to soften the ball and give it more mass to help the pitchers and batters. The target weight of a baseball is 5 ounces which are largely made up of yarn.
The core of a baseball is often made of cork or rubber. This is designed to add more mass and provide the framework for the shape of the ball.
There are always 216 stitches on a standard baseball. The stitches in MLB will be made of a red, waxy thread to create the iconic look. The stitches on a baseball have multiple uses within the game.