Thank you for visiting Fogdog. If you need assistance with shopping on our site, please call us at 800-310-1138 and a customer care representative will be happy to assist you. Please inform the Customer Service representative that you require assistance.
Bottom Line: Weight and size are standardized for consistency, but play
remains flat. Few home runs, many low-scoring games.
When the National League formed in 1876, it granted the Spalding Sporting
Goods Company the exclusive right to supply the new ball.
The years prior to 1920 were known as the Deadball era as baseballs were
specifically designed not to be lively. Home runs were rare and strategy
revolved around moving runners from base to base via hit-and-run plays, bunts,
sacrifices and stolen bases.
Reach Sporting Goods, founded in 1877, manufactured baseballs used by the
Western League, which later would evolve into the American League. After
Spalding acquired Reach in the late 19th century, Spalding operated the company
as a subsidiary, but left the Reach name on the American League ball. The two
balls were identical as they were manufactured at the same plant. Balls of this
era were composed of a rubber core wrapped in layers of yarn and string and
covered with horsehide.
In 1910, George Reach of Reach Sporting Goods discovered that a cork
center produced a much livelier ball. The cork center ball was secretly
introduced to the majors in the 1910 World Series.
Bottom Line: Secretly put into play in the 1910 World Series, this ball
was much livelier. Scoring jumped, and in 1911 the number of .300 hitters
tripled. The Babe and other home run kings would rule.
The cork center baseball became the standard in Major League Baseball in
1911 and has been used since. This resulted in an explosion of offense. The
number of .300 hitters tripled that year. Pitchers adjusted to the livelier
ball by developing "freak" deliveries - spitballs, scuffballs and other
Following World War I, Babe Ruth emerged as the pre-eminent slugger of the
new Live Ball era. He hit 29 homers in 1919 and unheard of totals of 54 and 59
in '20 and '21. In addition, the number of .300 hitters continued to increase,
almost doubling from 62 in 1920 to 113 in '21.
Baseball manufacturers, while insisting that the composition of the ball
had not changed since 1910-11, offered four reasons for the increased
The end of World War I meant the finest wool was available for
Skilled factory workers had returned from the war.
The home run feats of Babe Ruth prompted other players to abandon
traditional hitting techniques.
A far greater number of white, unscuffed balls, which are easier to see
and hit, were in play than prior years.
Three major changes in baseball culture resulted in more clean baseballs
Prior to this era foul balls could be redeemed for free admission to
another game and the returned balls were put back into play; about this time
fans had started to keep foul balls, bringing new balls into play.
Freak deliveries were outlawed in 1920 to give the game more
Umpires were replacing balls that showed the slightest scuff or wear,
meaning that dirty baseballs were removed from play much sooner. This resulted
in 20 to 60 balls being used per game, compared to three to four
In 1921, umpires began rubbing the balls with special mud that reduced
gloss and slickness without dirtying the ball.
Bottom Line: These minor tweaks took some of the zing off the ball. The
seams enabled pitchers to get more grip for better breaking balls.
In 1931, pitchers were given some recourse against the livelier ball when
the ball changed again. A thin layer of rubber wrapped the cork center,
slightly deadening the ball. The seams of the ball were raised as well to
enable the pitcher to get a better grip on the ball for more rotation on
Rawlings Sporting Goods started manufacturing baseballs in 1955 when
Spalding bought it out. Both the American and National League balls were made
by the same company though the American League balls were stamped with the
Rawlings name and the National League balls were stamped with the Spalding
Bottom Line: For economic reasons, cowhide replaces horsehide in the
Spalding was forced to sell Rawlings after an anti-trust investigation in
1968. Spalding continued to contract Rawlings to manufacture baseballs until
1973. Spalding manufactured MLB baseballs until 1976, when Rawlings took over
all MLB manufacturing. Rawlings baseballs were produced in Taiwan and Haiti.
Since 1990, Rawlings baseballs have been stitched in Costa Rica.