Lunar Baseball

If this has been done before, I apologize. Searching for baseball gets many returns.

Suppose we colonized the moon and decided to play baseball there. Let’s suppose we’ve built an adequate size dome to play in and that the interior air pressure is equivalent to that of earth. My questions relate to how lunar baseball would differ from terrestrial baseball.

Question 1- Just how much farther would the baseballs fly? Obviously under 1/6 g, the ball will go higher and take longer coming down, making even puny shortstops capable of majestic home runs. Does anyone know the velocities of the ball coming off the bat well enough to compute how far an earthly home run would go on the moon?

Question 2- How would pitchers fare in the 1/6 g? It stands to reason that the ball will drop somewhat less in its travel to the plate. But would curveballs curve more, less, or the same? Remember our dome has the same air pressure as earth, so now will that ball weighing 1/6 as much be more easily curved as it is thrown? And would knuckleballs dance like butterflies?

Question 3- How far would we have to move the fences? Directly related to 1, this brings up questions of its own:

Question 4- How would outfielders fare? The fences are back, you’ve got vast territory to cover. In your favor, flies will hang in the air longer and you have more time to track them down. Also, your throws to the infield don’t need to arc as much and everybody throws frozen ropes. But line drives would take you a long time to chase as they bounce to the fence and inside the park home runs could be commonplace. Which leads to:

Question 5- Would you have to move the bases further apart? If you don’t, then you’re going to have tons of inside the park home runs. If you do, then how far to move them? Or would you just make the first and third baselines meet at an acute angle to cut down on the outfield area in fair territory?

Question 6- How would infielders fare? Grounders would be much the same except the hops would be higher. But they could jump like cats to snare liners way over their heads. Would they play closer in or farther back?

On the fielding thing; it would be pretty tough; you’ve got longer to get under the ball, but because you weigh less (I know weight!=mass), you don’t have the traction to get running quickly.

I thought of the traction thing- would that also make it harder for the baserunner to round the bases?

it would be pretty much just like coors field.


fielding would be impossible, or maybe you’d have to add another 20 outfielders.

Curveballs curve mainly because of air resistence (spinning ball . I’m pretty sure that the only possible pitch in a vacuum is a “fastball”.

Given that the players could wear suits that would provide little encumberance at the plate, baseballs would probably fly for such a long distance that watching a game would be very hard for the spectators. Keep in mind that air resistence is probably a greater force acting on a hit ball than gravity.

As for running, Apollo astronauts found that the “bunny hop” was the most efficient way of getting around. Running in the sense we do on earth would be very difficult but not impossible, though quickly changing directions might be trickier than expected.

I think basketball would a far more satisifying moon game than baseball. Other than raising the height of the baskets, it would probably not need massive changes in the size of the court.

Curveballs curve because they are spun when thrown and it changes the airflow around the ball. Most pitches travel around 90 mph so they experience very little drop between the mound and the plate. Hitting would be vastly improved, every hit in the low gravity could make it right into the stands.
Rounding the bases would be quite interesting, the lessened traction makes it harder to stop but the stationary basemen would have no such problem.

It wouldn’t be anything like Denver (or anywhere else high-altitude baseball is played) because the OP specified 1 atm for pressure. That’s sea-level normal, meaning the ball would fly just like it does now with regards to air resistance. The problem wouldn’t be air resistance, but the lighter gravity. Larger parabolics, players would have to know how their weight turns compared to their inertia (which is governed by total mass) and such. I would think that problem, at least, could be overcome by a second generation growing up in a 1/6 g field, as they’d do it instinctively. I think you’d have to keep the relative dimensions the same, but expand them to some degree. I’d have to sit down and do the math to figure out how far a home-run ball (say 400 ft) would travel in 1/6 g compared to 1 g, and I’d have to neglect air resistance to make the calculation easy, if we’re just looking for a ballpark (bad pun intended :smiley: ) figure.

fiddlesticks, I’m talking about playing in a dome with earthlike air, so no vacuum. The bunny hopping astronauts did may have been the result of being cooped up in a space suit, not sure what the effective running style on the moon within a dome would be.

If anyones a Robert Heinlen nut, in The Rolling Stones kids born on the moon are telling their earth born and raised father that 1-G baseball would be impossible.

Intercepting a projectile moving 200+ feet per second in a 1-G environment…yeah right dad.

Eh, what’s escape velocity on the Moon? Could one of the NL’s 100 mph pitchers get a ball into a low orbit if he was standing outside the dome (suitably suited)? I know air resistance would probably preclude orbital home runs inside the dome.

On a related note, how big would the dome have to be to have a chance at not being broken by significantly fast balls?

I say, that’s a joke, son.
I keep pitchin’ ‘em, and you keep missin’ 'em.

The aerodynamic forces that cause curve balls, knuckle balls, and so on would be no different, since you’ve specified an Earth atmosphere. Those forces act in oppostion to the ball’s inertia, which is dependent on its mass - which will not change, unlike the weight. So I think the curve balls and knuckle balls would be about the same as on Earth.

But I wonder if the pitcher could even throw the ball the same way as on Earth. Could a six-foot tall, 30 pound pitcher throw a 90 mile-per-hour fast ball without knocking himself down? He may have to adopt a peculiar-looking stance.

No, not even close. If my fuzzy recollection of high-school physics homework serves, even a very high-velocity rifle bullet doesn’t reach the Moon’s escape velocity.

Looking around the web, I get different numbers in different places, but they’re generally over 2km/sec. I did find a chart with some solar-system escape velocities.

it wouldn’t have to reach escape velocity. It would only need to get into a low-moon orbit.

Outfielders and baserunners would probably be advised to wear weights (in their shoes, perhaps?) to increase their contact/friction with the ground. This would enable them to have greater speed and ability to change direction.

Conveniently ignoring air resistance, I think actually you’d pretty much have to start off in a pantomime-style slow-motion run - the lack of traction means that you have to push gingerly with your feet, or they will slip. Also try to put as little spring in your step as possible or you will spend too much time out of contact with the ground to be able to accelerate properly.

weights, especially on the feet, would make it harder to run; they may not weigh as much as on earth, but it still takes energy to set the mass in motion (and stop it at the end of the stroke)

True, running with weights would require more energy, but you could still run faster and with more control than someone whose feet are slipping or who fly into the air a few feet with every step. It would require more endurance for the outfielders, perhaps, but runners should be able to make it around the bases before needing to sit and rest.

the weights wopuld be better worn around the waist; they will still press you down just as hard on the playing surface, but you wouldn’t be moving them back and forth with each stride.

I wonder if traction/friction would really be a problem with the cleats they wear.