A baseball’s makeup has remained unchanged for over 100 years. Rubber, cork, cowhide and length of yarn, are the fundamental materials that make the baseball. However, baseball has altered the ball to help even the playing field when competitive advantage has shifted from offense to defense and vice versa.
One of these standardizations has been stitching. How many stitches are there on a baseball? There are approximately 108 double stitches on a baseball, totaling 216 stitches altogether. The first and the last stitches are hidden, and the stitching is done by hand, using up exactly 88 inches of threading.
The entire stitching process takes about 10 to 15 minutes, plus an additional 15 seconds in a rolling machine to level out any uneven stitches.
History of Baseball Stitching
Major League Baseball has standardized the ball used in play much like all four of the major North American sports.
Every single baseball used in a professional game is the exact same with the exact same design, size, and stitching. This was not always the case as the American and National leagues had their own ball and set of rules before coming together to form Major League Baseball.
The ball has also gone through periods where it gave a competitive advantage to the pitcher and eras where it has given a competitive advantage to the hitter.
It wasn’t until the 1930’s when Major League Baseball decided on a specific look and feel for their baseballs. Ever since 1934, a Major League Baseball has had exactly 108 double stitches done in waxed red thread. Giving the baseball 216 stitches.
This model of the baseball has not changed in nearly 100 years as the baseball itself has swung from the offense to the defense and everything in between. The stitches used to be done by hand. More recently, the developers automated the process which has led to a much more standardized ball.
By keeping the stitches standard, the pitchers can rely on the same grip for their entire careers. A curveball has held on the same stitches for over 100 years. No sport relies more on tradition than baseball, and their ball is no exception.
Why Are Baseball Stitches Red
The red stitches won over the blue or black that had been experimented with in earlier. This is because red is much more visible.
This helps both the batter and the catcher work within the field of play. The batter only has a fraction of a second to decide if this ball, often traveling over 90 miles per hour, will strike him and potentially injure him.
So, being able to properly identify the pitch and the rotation gives time to move out of the way. It also allows him the opportunity to make decent contact with the ball.
On the defensive side, it gives the catcher the ability to properly catch the ball or block the ball should it bounce or if the pitcher and catcher have communication issues.
Standardizing the baseball with the same number of stitches gives pitchers the opportunity to perfect their pitches for every season.
It ensures that whether they pitch in the American or National League, their pitches will be the same. It ensures that growing up from little league to college to the minors, their pitches will work exactly the same as they grow and mature.
At those speeds, a baseball is incredibly dangerous for the batter. This then protects both the pitcher and their development, plus protects the batter.