How Many Balls Are Used In A Baseball Game? Details Explained

Last Updated on October 22, 2023 by Alex PT

There are typically 80 to 120 baseballs used in an MLB game. The exact number can vary depending on foul balls, home runs, and weather conditions. The MLB provides each team with a dozen baseballs to start the game. Teams also have a supply of additional baseballs on hand to replace any that are lost or damaged during the game.

A Table Showing The Kinds Of Baseballs Used In Baseball

Kind Of BaseballDescription 
Safety ballsThe safety balls have a convincing baseball look. They are cushioned, so they are soft, it is best for teaching young players young baseball players without being scared of the impact of the ball. With fear out of the way, young players can focus more on building their skills.
Reduced injury factory (RIF) ballsThe RIF baseballs perform better than safety balls. Their core is mixed with poly which makes them softer than the normal youth hardball. 
Youth tournament baseballsThe youth tournament baseballs are cushioned in the cork center, they are not wound as right as adult balls but they are not soft.
High school and college baseballsThese balls are usually made of a cork core, wool windings, and leather.
Professional grade baseballThese are the balls used by the MLB teams, they have the best quality compared to every other league.
Practice baseballsJust like the name entails, these are used for practice in junior leagues, they are made with low-quality materials. 

How Many Balls Are Used In A Baseball Game?

1. Range of Baseballs Used
A common baseball game can consume anywhere from 60 to 70 balls on average. However, the total number varies based on specific factors.

2. Factors Influencing Ball Usage
Multiple elements influence the number of balls used in a game. These include the level of competition, the number of fouls, home runs, wild pitches, and weather elements like rain.

3. Foul Balls
Foul balls significantly contribute to the high number of balls used in a game. Each foul ball is typically removed from play, which may drastically increase the total number depending on how players perform.

4. Home Runs
Similarly, home runs can cause the ball count to surge. A ball struck for a home run goes directly to the fans, effectively removing it from the game.

5. Balls Hit into the Crowd
In professional games, any ball hit into the stands is customarily kept by the spectator who catches it. This practice increases the number of balls used per contest.

6. Damaged Balls
Balls that are scuffed, dirtied or damaged in any way during the course of play are immediately taken out of rotation. This is done to maintain the integrity of the game and prevent any unfair advantage to either team.

7. Ball Rotation
Every few, or even one pitch depending on conditions, umpires rotate balls to ensure they stay clean and in good condition. This consistent rotation also contributes to a higher number of balls used in a game.

8. Effect of Weather
In rainy conditions, more balls are used in a baseball game. Wet or damp balls can be unsafe or difficult to play with, requiring frequent changes.

9. Specialty Baseball Games
In special games such as Major League Baseball (MLB) playoffs, World Series, or milestone games (where a player is about to set a record), the ball usage often increases to preserve the balls used in the game for memorabilia.

10. Official Guidelines
According to MLB guidelines, an umpire must always have easy access to 90 balls. While this doesn’t mean that all 90 balls will be used, it does ensure that there is a smooth flow of new balls into the game.

How often are baseballs replaced during a game?

The frequency of baseball replacement during a game can vary based on several factors:

  1. Pitching Performance: If the pitchers are effective and avoid scuffing or damaging the ball, it may last longer.
  2. Pitcher’s Preferences: Pitchers often prefer using newer, cleaner baseballs. They may request replacements if they feel the current ball is compromised.
  3. Hits and Fouls: Batters hitting the ball, particularly fouls, can scuff or damage it, leading to more frequent replacements.
  4. Pitcher Changes: When a new pitcher enters the game, they may receive a fresh baseball.
  5. Umpire Discretion: Umpires can decide to replace a ball if they believe it’s too scuffed or damaged to continue safely.
  6. Weather Conditions: Wet or muddy conditions can make baseballs less durable, necessitating more frequent replacements.
  7. League Regulations: Some leagues have specific rules regarding ball replacement, such as requiring a new ball after each ball is put into play.
  8. Pitch Count: In youth or amateur leagues, balls may be replaced after a certain number of pitches for safety and durability reasons.

What does MLB do with baseballs that hit the dirt?

In Major League Baseball (MLB), and in most levels of baseball, the handling of baseballs that have hit the dirt or ground during play follows specific protocols:

  1. Inspection: After a ball has touched the dirt or is used for a play (e.g., a pitch or batted ball), umpires often inspect it to ensure it is still in good condition. If a ball is severely scuffed or damaged, it may be removed from play and replaced with a new one.
  2. Return to Pitcher: If the ball is still in suitable condition, it is typically returned to the pitcher by the catcher or an infielder. The pitcher may rub or prepare the ball to their preference before delivering the next pitch.
  3. Pitcher’s Discretion: Pitchers have some latitude in using their preferred baseball. They may request a new ball from the umpire if they are dissatisfied with the one returned to them.
  4. Pitcher’s Rubbing: To improve grip and control, pitchers often use substances like rosin, which is typically available on the pitcher’s mound. Rosin is not considered a foreign substance and is allowed by MLB rules.
  5. Umpire Intervention: Umpires may replace a ball if they deem it compromised or if it has been intentionally altered, such as by adding foreign substances. This can occur if the ball is visibly scuffed or if it behaves abnormally due to damage.
  6. Disposal: Baseballs that are taken out of play due to damage are typically collected and sent to the league’s authentication process or stored as memorabilia. Some are authenticated, marked, and sold to collectors or fans.
  7. Recycling: In some cases, baseballs that are no longer suitable for play can be recycled to make new baseballs, although this process is not as common in MLB due to the stringent standards for professional baseballs.

What does MLB do with used baseballs?

Major League Baseball (MLB) has specific procedures for handling and disposing of used baseballs:

  1. Authentication: MLB often authenticates used baseballs, especially those with significant historical value, such as milestone home runs or noteworthy plays. These baseballs are marked, documented, and preserved.
  2. Sale to Collectors and Fans: Authenticated used baseballs are often sold to collectors, fans, and at memorabilia auctions. These baseballs can become valuable collector’s items.
  3. Charity Donations: Some used baseballs are donated to charitable causes, such as fundraising auctions, to support various initiatives and charities.
  4. Player Souvenirs: Players may keep or request used baseballs that have personal significance to them, such as milestone hits, strikeouts, or game-winning plays.
  5. Storage for Historical Records: Some used baseballs are stored for historical record-keeping, preserving the history of the game, and occasionally put on display in museums or Hall of Fame exhibits.
  6. Recycling: While not as common in MLB due to strict quality standards, some used baseballs may be recycled to make new baseballs or other rubber and leather products.
  7. General Use: Some used baseballs are reused in lower-level baseball leagues, practice sessions, or minor league games, where the demand for pristine baseballs is not as high.

Materials Used In Making Baseball Covers

Materials Used In Making Baseball Covers

There are usually two different kinds of materials used in making baseball covers. We are putting this in the article so maybe knowing what the baseball is made of will help you know why they don’t last for more than two pitches. 

1. Genuine Leather

The genuine leather cover lasts long and is preferred by most youth baseball teams. Other reasons are the fact that it possesses a better grip and has high durability. Genuine leather is used to mark the stamps on baseballs. Either that or full-grain leather. The downside is that genuine leather comes in different qualities and varying thicknesses. The only difference between the high quality and low quality is the price. 

2. Synthetic Leather

Synthetic leather covers are made from vinyl materials. Sometimes people call it Vyntan, synthetic leather, or soft leather. This kind of leather is used because it doesn’t carry dirt and doesn’t soak up water like normal leather. 

In most games played in the MLB, genuine leather-covered baseballs are used. The synthetic leather is reserved for practice and most times, they are used after a rainfall to avoid using a soaked-up ball to play. 

Different Kinds Of Baseball

There are majorly six kinds of baseballs that most leagues make use of; 

1. Safety Balls

These balls are made for younger baseball players, when we say young we mean age 3 to 5, pretty young right? Yes, children at that age learn to play baseball too. Back to business. Safety balls are soft, you will know they are soft just by looking at them, they are also lighter than other baseballs. 

2. Reduced Injury Factory Balls

These balls are made with better materials than safety balls, they are also available for players of different age grades. Although, they are mostly used for practice. 

3. Youth Tournament Baseballs

These balls are used by more experienced players from the age of 8-14 and sometimes in little league tournaments. It’s surprising that we are calling children of 8 years old experienced right? Well like we said before they mostly start from the age of 3 so by the time they are 8, they are of course experienced. These balls are manufactured for youth-sized aluminum bats. The insides are made with leather and wool windings. 

4. High School And College Baseballs

These balls are very similar to the ones used in professional baseball games, the only difference is the density and also these ones are built for aluminum bats. 

5. Professional-Grade Baseballs

The major league baseball teams make use of these kinds of balls, they get the highest quality balls. They need the best balls because they play at the highest level. The minor league follows them behind by using lower-quality balls. 

6. Practice Baseball 

Practice balls are mostly synthetic covered balls, every level baseball teams use low-quality balls to practice because they are inexpensive. Keep in mind that when using practice balls, they wear out easily and lose shape. 

When An MLB Game Is About To Start, How Many Balls Are Prepared?

12 dozen baseballs! Each MLB team is given 12 pounds for spring training and regular-season games. How do we know this? Well, Dan Wallin equipment manager of the Nats said in an interview that it takes him or any clubhouse assistant about 45 minutes to rub the mud on the prepared balls for the game. 

What Is Done To The Used Baseballs?

Major league baseball does different things to used balls, for example, they put them in the barrel for batting practices, some of them are sold to collectors as game-used balls. Sometimes they are taken out of play and saved for players for a situation when a milestone is reached.

Why Are Baseballs Changed When They Hit The Dirt?

Umpires say that their main reason for changing dirty baseballs is because of the advantage pitchers get from it. When a pitcher pitch a dirty baseball, he can inflict more force on the baseball than usual. 

Final Thoughts

The bottom line here is that, there are reasons why so many baseballs are being used in just one game, umpires know why it is done this way. We’ve reached the end of this informative article. We hope that this article helped you find resources in your quest to know how many balls are used in a baseball game. Do not hesitate to contact us with any questions or comments. Thanks!


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