Pro Baseball Teams Use 900,000 Balls Each Year

May 25, 2011 at 2:00 am 13 comments

By Kaye Nemec

It’s the top of the 6th inning in the Milwaukee Brewers vs. Washington Nationals baseball game and the TV announcers just provided me, and the rest of the at-home audience, with an interesting fact. According to the Brewer’s equipment manager, 6 dozen brand new baseballs are prepared before each home game. Some games an additional 2 or 3 dozen balls will be used before the final out.

And that got me researching…

On average, Major League Baseball teams go through 900,000 baseballs each season. Any time a ball is thrown in the dirt, dinged by a bat or scuffed up, it is taken out of the game and of course, all homerun and foul balls go home with a lucky fan. Thousands of additional balls are tossed into the stands by generous players.

In order to prevent teams from having to travel with dozens of balls, equipment managers have agreed that the home team will provide the away team with 6 dozen balls before each game. Individual teams are still responsible for providing their own batting practice balls – which is usually 14 or 15 dozen balls, some of which are brand new and some that have been used in a game.

Some used balls are also sent to minor league teams to use for practice. Thankfully 900,000 balls are not simply thrown out each year. However, some would argue they are still a complete waste given the price tag. If you calculate in tax and shipping, the average cost of a dozen baseballs is $72.00. That means the MLB is spending around $5.5 million dollars each season on baseballs alone.

Sources: Post-Gazette

Photo: Paul Hadsall

Entry filed under: Sports. Tags: , , .

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13 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Pyxl  |  August 12, 2011 at 11:05 am

    There was an episode of “Dirty Jobs” that showed the man that collected the mud to rub on all of the balls before each game so they are not so shiny and slick. http://www.lenablackburne.com/

    Reply
  • 2. Luke Herklotz  |  March 11, 2013 at 3:39 am

    As we all know, there are several different positions in baseball. One common strain between all of these positions is speed. Speed is an important role in all positions. In the workout that we are going to be doing, we are going to focus on explosive behavior. Such exercises will help us with reaction time, strength, and stability. *

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    Reply
  • […] an article I read by a fellow blogger, it showed that MLB teams go through average 900,000 baseballs a year. A […]

    Reply
  • 4. Ben  |  April 29, 2014 at 9:45 pm

    Your 5.5 million is a bit off. I doubt MLB is paying retail for baseballs.

    Reply
  • 5. Marty  |  April 19, 2017 at 2:17 pm

    5.5 million a year for baseballs?? I would find a different supplier or have Pres Trump renegociate the price for mlb!

    Reply
    • 6. Dan Kearfott  |  July 14, 2017 at 11:26 pm

      $ 6.00 per ball seems like a reasonable price.

      Reply
  • 7. The Hit Man  |  July 14, 2017 at 11:38 pm

    I don’t know where the 900,000 figure came from but it seems unlikely to me.
    There are 30 teams that play 162 games per year.
    That means a total of 2,430 games per year.
    There are less than 300 pitches thrown on average per game.
    2430 x 300=728,000 pitches per season.
    900,000 balls divided by 728,000 pitches = 1.23 balls per pitch.
    Could someone please explain to me how that could be possible?

    Reply
    • 8. Andy  |  August 9, 2017 at 7:45 pm

      It’s literally laid out in the article.. Can you read?

      Reply
    • 9. Marshall Haynes  |  August 24, 2017 at 8:35 pm

      Game used balls are around 125-130k per season. MLB teams hit new balls in batting practice, and warm up balls are generally new. Poor writing didn’t explain the discrepancy, but it probably is around 900k to 1M balls purchased by MLB teams…and <$6M/yr is pretty cheap when major league minimum salary is over $500k/yr…

      Reply
    • 10. Mbd  |  October 27, 2017 at 7:03 pm

      I’m thinking they probably need balls to practice with. Warm up their pitchers with. Oh and it even says that there are players that throw balls to the fans.

      Reply
    • 11. George  |  November 16, 2018 at 9:54 am

      they have to practice you know

      Reply
  • 12. The Ocean Giveth... Beach Trash Finds  |  June 11, 2018 at 2:16 am

    […] Did you know that Major League Baseball teams go through 900,000 baseballs each season. (Source) […]

    Reply
  • 13. Kd Si  |  October 20, 2018 at 4:00 pm

    Right now, Major League baseballs are made by Rawlings at a plant in Costa Rica.
    There is another Factory in China however these balls are all stamped accordingly –

    By Eric Fisher – Sports Business Journal,
    Jul 31, 2018, 9:33am

    Venerable sporting goods brand Rawlings, now under the ownership of MLB and a private investment firm co-founded and led by San Diego Padres general partner Peter Seidler, is considering the development of a second plant to produce official league baseballs that would supplement the current one in Costa Rica.

    Official league balls have been made exclusively in the Central American country since 1987, leading up to the completion earlier this month of a $395 million deal in which Marina del Rey, California-based Seidler Equity Partners and MLB purchased the 131-year-old company from Hoboken, New Jersey-based Newell Brands Inc.

    As part of the new ownership structure in which the California-based firm will be lead owner and MLB a 25 percent equity holder and on the board of directors, Seidler said a second factory for official balls is being considered.

    “We’re studying whether it makes sense to have a second facility somewhere else,” Seidler said. “If anything happened to the first facility, like a fire or a force majeure event, we could have a second one that would be able to continue manufacturing the balls. We’re in the early stages of this, but the idea is to ensure the production of the baseballs under any circumstances.”

    The ownership of the St. Louis-based Rawlings by the league and an entity directly connected to one of its team owners also is designed to provide MLB a closer role in the production and specifications management of its official ball, as well as to heighten efforts around future research and development.

    “There is arguably no single product more important in professional sports than the baseball itself. Minor tweaks in the specifications in the ball can obviously produce dramatically different outcomes on the field,” said Chris Marinak, MLB’s executive vice president of strategy, technology and innovation. “So it made a lot of sense, both from a risk management and a forward-looking research perspective, to have a more active, vertically integrated role in the company.”
    —————————————————————————————
    My input
    The balls are all hand made and an individual must meet a minimum daily quota – I understand the Costa Rico factory pays a bonus out to individuals who go over the quota of around 160 balls a day — otherwise they receive around $2.50 a day !!! – I don’t have a clue about the Chinese factory wage scale however I would guess it to be slightly more – what a racket this is for sure !!! –

    Ken

    Reply

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