Throwing, catching and hitting baseballs may be second nature for you, but at Rawlings, manufacturing baseballs
is our top priority.
Rawlings is the official supplier of baseballs for the highest levels of play, from Major League Baseball and Minor League Baseball to the NCAA College World Series, the NJCAA championships and the NAIA championships. Countless high schools and youth leagues also use Rawlings baseballs.
Making a baseball is a fine art, one that Rawlings has perfected in the many years it has been making baseballs.
At the heart of each baseball is the pill. Smaller than a golf ball, it is a sphere of rubber cork in a casing.
Latex adhesive is poured over hundreds of pills loaded in a drum, which has rollers spinning it to evenly coat the pills. This adhesive never dries completely, leaving the pills sticky to the touch.
Next, four-ply wool is looped around the pill, which substantially fattens the pill. This is followed with a second and third layer of three-ply wool. It is these layers of wool that give the baseball resilience so it will spring back into shape when hit.
For the final winding, a much thinner poly-wool blend is used because its surface is smoother.
The ball-in-progress is now called a center. It is weighed and the circumference measured, and it should be 22½ centimeters around.
Then, adhesive is added to a spinning drum and the centers are loaded into it. As the centers tumble, they absorb the glue, allowing the fibers adhere to each other. The centers air-dry for 48 hours, but remain sticky.
Using a hydraulic press, figure-eight shapes are punched out of leather complete with holes around the periphery. This allows them to be stitched into baseball covers.
Before the balls are stitched, they are wrapped in wet towels to make them pliable enough to sew.
A water-based adhesive is then rolled onto one side of each of the leather cutouts. Two cutouts are pressed to the center's sticky surface for an exact fit.
Now it's time to sew--108 stitches in each baseball.
Finally, the baseballs are rolled into a press that smoothes down the seams, and a three-headed stamper gives each ball its trademark, league logo and the commissioner's signature.
With drying cycles, it takes a week to make a professional baseball
. Approximately 8,000 to 10,000 baseballs are produced each day.
or contact a Rawlings Gear Customer Care representative at (866) 678-GEAR(4327) to purchase your baseballs.