How Many Baseballs Are Used in an MLB Game? A Quick Guide

During a single MLB game, around 84 to 120 baseballs might be used. This large number is due to foul balls, home runs, and balls that get scuffed or damaged.

Rawlings, the official supplier, works hard to ensure every ball meets high-quality standards, guaranteeing the best performance for pitchers and batters alike.

Several baseballs scattered across a well-maintained field during an MLB game

Over the course of a season, this adds up quickly.

With 30 teams playing 162 games each, it’s estimated that around 900,000 baseballs are used.

That’s a lot of baseballs! Every game provides excitement and drama, and it’s fascinating to know just how many balls are needed to keep the league running smoothly.

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Lifecycle of a Baseball in an MLB Game

Baseball flying through the air, caught by outfielder, thrown to infield, and pitched by pitcher

In Major League Baseball, the journey of a baseball from preparation to its end-use is intricate.

It involves strict quality checks, frequent replacements during the game, and multiple post-game uses.

Pre-game Preparation

Before each game, new baseballs are rigorously prepared to meet league standards. Rawlings, the company supplying these balls, ensures each ball meets strict quality standards.

The umpires then rub the balls with a special rubbing mud to reduce the slickness, improving the grip for pitchers.

This mud is sourced from a secret location in New Jersey.

These steps guarantee that every ball is ready for gameplay, providing consistency and fairness on the field.

Usage During the Game

During a game, baseballs undergo various changes in condition.

On average, 84 to 120 new baseballs are used per game.

The umpire frequently switches out balls that become scuffed, dirty, or damaged.

Balls are replaced after foul balls, home runs, or any play where the ball touches dirt.

This maintains a high quality of play and adheres to the strict major league standards.

Post-game and Beyond

After the game, used baseballs have multiple fates.

Many are repurposed for practice sessions or sent to the team’s minor league affiliates for further use.

Others become treasured memorabilia, often autographed by players and auctioned for fans.

Some might even find their way to the Hall of Fame or be kept as souvenirs by fans.

Baseballs play an important role, both during and after the game, continuing their value in various ways.

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From Factory to Field: The Journey of MLB Baseballs

A conveyor belt transports MLB baseballs from a factory to a lush baseball field, where they are used in a game

The journey of an MLB baseball starts in a factory and ends on the field, undergoing a detailed process and a significant investment.

This journey ensures every ball meets the highest standards for professional play.

Manufacturing Process

MLB baseballs begin their lives in Costa Rica at a factory where meticulous craftsmanship is key.

They are made from cowhide provided by the Tennessee Tanning company, which is known for its high-quality leather.

The central core, often referred to as the “pill,” is made of cushioned cork wrapped with layers of wool and polyester yarn.

Each ball is then tightly stitched with 108 double stitches using red cotton thread, which forms the iconic seams.

The leather is cowhide sourced from Cargill’s Beef Plant in Pennsylvania, ensuring consistency in quality.

This process guarantees every baseball meets the rigorous standards required for MLB games.

Logistics and Costs

Once manufactured, the baseballs are shipped to the United States, incurring substantial shipping costs.

Each team receives a steady supply to last the entire regular season.

On average, MLB requires an estimated 200,000 to 300,000 baseballs per season.

The logistical operations involve well-coordinated efforts to get the baseballs from Costa Rica to various MLB teams.

The MLB spends roughly $3-4 million annually on these baseballs.

This investment covers the costs of materials, manufacturing, and transportation to ensure each game runs smoothly.

The consistency and quality of each baseball are vital for maintaining the integrity of the sport.


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Impact on Gameplay and the Fan Experience

A pile of two baseballs sits on the pitcher's mound, ready for use in an MLB game.</p><p>The crowd buzzes with excitement, eager for the impact on gameplay and the fan experience

The use of numerous baseballs in an MLB game affects both the gameplay and the fans’ experience in significant ways.

It’s important to understand how the use of fresh balls maintains the sport’s integrity and enhances fan engagement.

Game Integrity and Fairness

Ensuring Fair Play: Using multiple baseballs in a game helps maintain game integrity and fairness.

Each ball undergoes inspection by the umpire to ensure it’s in optimal condition.

Scuffed or altered balls can impact a pitcher’s grip and control, leading to unfair advantages.

Consistent Performance: Fresh baseballs ensure consistent performance throughout the game.

As baseballs are hit and thrown, they can get scuffed or damaged.

Switching them out frequently helps preserve the integrity of the sport, making sure every pitch is fair and consistent.

Impact on Fielding: A ball in top condition is also crucial for fielders.

A well-maintained ball ensures that players can perform at their best, contributing to the overall fairness and quality of the game.

Collectibles and Fan Engagement

Memorabilia: Baseballs used in games can become valuable collectibles.

Foul balls and home run balls that end up in the stands are often kept by fans.

These balls can become treasured items, especially when autographed by players.

Fan Interaction: The practice of giving away used baseballs increases fan engagement.

Catchers sometimes toss balls to the crowd between innings, creating special moments for fans.

This direct interaction enhances the game-day experience, making it unforgettable for many attendees.

Bullpen Activities: In the bullpen, backup pitchers use balls for warm-ups and practice.

These balls, once used, can end up as merchandise or collectibles, providing another connection point between the game and its fans.

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