How Many Baseballs Are Used In A MLB Game

Major League Baseball (MLB) games are a skill, strategy, and statistics spectacle. One statistic often unnoticed is the number of baseballs used in a single game. This article delves into this fascinating aspect of the sport.

The Average Number of Baseballs Used

In an average MLB game, between 84 to 120 baseballs are used. This number may seem excessive, but it quickly adds up when you consider warm-ups, foul balls, home runs, and balls thrown in the dirt. A pitcher can request a new ball at any time, especially if it shows signs of wear and tear. Balls are also replaced when they are hit out of play or become discolored.

Why So Many Baseballs?

The frequent replacement of baseballs is crucial for safety reasons. A dirty ball is harder for players to see than a fresh, bright white one. Moreover, a scuffed-up baseball could give the pitcher an unfair advantage, as dirt on one side of a ball can influence its trajectory. Therefore, any baseball that comes into contact with dirt is usually discarded and replaced.

What Happens to the Used Baseballs?

Once discarded, baseballs are not reused in the game. Instead, they are authenticated and sold as memorabilia in MLB shops. The home team collects and sells each discarded ball, often noting what happened during the play before it was discarded. Some of these balls may also be used for batting practice or sent to minor leagues.

Prepping the Baseballs for the Game

Before all MLB games, an umpire or clubhouse attendant rubs six dozen or more balls with a special mud to give them a rougher surface. This process makes the balls easier for pitchers to grip and complies with MLB Rule 4.01(c), which requires all baseballs to be "properly rubbed so that the gloss is removed."

The Cost of Baseballs in MLB

The MLB uses a specific type of baseball manufactured by Rawlings, designed to meet the league's specifications and play at the highest professional level. Each baseball costs around $7, putting the annual MLB budget for baseballs alone in the $10 million range.

The Record for Most Baseballs Used

While there isn't a specific record for most baseballs used in a game, the top end is believed to be around 120 balls. Every season, between 200,000-300,000 baseballs are used, considering that every team plays 162 games in a season, and there are 30 teams in MLB.