Baseball Judgments

Baseball Judgments |
Base balls
Inflation and controversy


By Roger Weber


Since baseball stopped using a lemon seamed ball and started using a figure "8" seam, the ball has been a subject of tampering and controversy.


In an attempt to increase baseball's popularity a new "lively" baseball was used in 1930. Home run production in the National League in 1930 was almost twice what it was in 1931, leading many experts to suspect tampering with the ball. In 1938 another change was made to the ball. The so-called "yellow ball" was darker than the classic white ball but there are few accounts of player complaints about this ball (7).


According to the rule book baseballs can weigh between five and five and a quarter ounces. Different elevations can cause the ball to become heavier or lighter than that regulation. At Colorado's Coors Field, whose elevation in the upper deck is a mile high, a special humidor has been designed to keep the baseballs at a cool 70 degrees and 50% humidity. This supposedly keeps the baseballs at a weight around 5.1 ounces, a full half ounce over what some reports say baseballs in Coors Field weighed at Denver's elevation before implementation of the humidor. Many fans, though, doubt the humidor has had much effect. Ballpark factors at Coors have declined slightly in recent years but that may only be a function of chance and more other hitter-friendly parks around the league.


At major league parks as of the turn of the twenty-first century, umpires prepare 78 baseballs before games, coating them with mud to make them a little harder to see and to reduce their spin. The average lifespan of a typical baseball at a major league game is just seven pitches as foul balls and home runs often land in the stands. Bat boys are often criticized for not tossing enough foul balls on the field into the seats for fans. In reality, though, most batboys aren't allowed to give away more than a limited number of balls to fans due to the limited number of ready baseballs.


Enter supporting content here