Grabbing the first thing with laces off the shelf isn't going to cut it unless you're just teaching Junior how to play catch. Baseballs
are simply not created equal. Depending on your age, league, and ability, different balls have various specifications that will better suit your game. For most people, youth league competition grade baseballs
offer the perfect blend of performance and durability. They are great for games or practice, and are relatively inexpensive. If you need something more specific, consider some of the features mentioned in this guide in order to build yourself the perfect ball.
It's important to know that a baseball's performance is determined by all the materials and construction that goes into creating the ball from the core to the cover. Better components and a higher quality manufacturing process make a better performing, more expensive ball.
So let's start with a brief introduction to how a baseball is built from the inside out. Starting at the center, you have what's called the core and the windings. These are the key features relating to durability and performance of a ball.
Lower quality balls have cores made of either tournament grade
or higher usually have cushioned cork cores consisting of a cork ball wrapped in a thin layer of premium rubber. These cushioned cork cores are the most dense, and have the highest performance.
Now that you understand a little about the core, let's move on to the windings, which are either wool or a wool blend thread that is tightly wound around the center core, whichever type it may be. The quality of the ball is directly relative to the percentage of wool used in the windings. Pure wool windings have the highest compression and shape retention characteristics. Plus, the tighter the thread is wound around the core, the better the windings. These qualities will make a ball retain its shape longer and have higher performance.
Baseball covers might appear to be a matter of aesthetics, but there is much more to them than looks. The ideally performing ball is one has a lot of "pop" and longer air time. In addition, it is more apt to retain its shape and grip. This is where the cover comes in. Baseballs have either a leather or synthetic cover that is glued to the windings and then stitched together. More expensive balls generally have better covers that are better bonded to the windings. Here's a break down of the advantages to each type of cover material.
* '''Leather Covers'''
** Baseballs are traditionally covered in leather because it offers the best grip.
** Consistent performance, durability, and shape maintenance.
** Leather covers will get dark with use.
** Because leather is porous, it can absorb water and become slippery when wet.
** More expensive balls are typically made with a higher grade leather.
* '''Synthetic Covers'''
** These are usually vinyl and less expensive than leather covers.
** They vary in texture and grip depending on the quality.
** High quality synthetic covers have a grip and feel that is close to leather.
** Synthetic covers resist dirt, maintain color well, and do not absorb water.
** Like leather covers, synthetic covers get slippery when wet.
When it comes to covers and cost, you might want to consider who will be using the ball most. Kids who are dabbling in the sport needn't have a top of the the line ball. Synthetic covers will suit them fine for training, practice and recreational use. Plus, synthetics are easy to clean. For adults, teens, or pros, leather is a better choice because it will be more durable and comfortable to grip.
Baseball covers are stitched together in such a manner to form raised seams, rolled or standard seams, or flat seams. A regular-sized ball has 108 stitches in all. So which type do you want? The standard type of seams (sometimes called rolled seams), are adequate for all age levels, and can be used in many pitching machines. Major League Baseballs have rolled seams, hence these balls are sometimes referred to as having Major League seams.
Besides these standard seam types, there are two others, which both have their purposes.
Baseballs should measure 9 inches in diameter (23cm) and weigh 5 1/4 ounces (149 grams). Balls designed for young players are often smaller and lighter to compensate for their size and ability. Besides size, there is of course the type of ball that might play a part in how you buy a ball.
* Rawlings (Leather)