Why are softballs so much more “reusable” than baseballs?

While watching college softball, it seems that the same ball is used for long periods of time regardless of what happens to the ball. EG: Ball hits the ground, goes into the net, etc. I’m baseball, it seems that the ball is replaced for every little thing. Is there something inherently different about a baseball that makes it more susceptible to manipulation when scuffed that a softball doesn’t possess? Or is it just a matter of economics since college softball is no doubt on more of a budget than MLB?

Is it possible that a baseball is more susceptible to becoming misshapen than a softball? higher speeds of bat on ball? Is the construction different? knowing cricket more than baseball often the only time a ball is replaced before its life is up (appx 500 deliveries) is when its shape is altered so perhaps baseball is ensuring it never gets to that point. A baseball pitch is a tricky beast to hit without a mis-shapen ball causing further grief.

College women softball pitchers are less skilled than a MLB pitcher, they throw with less velocity and from a shorter distance. All of these affect the amount of movement of the pitch and the distance for that movement to occur.
Also, the MLB can afford to throw out any ball that has the slightest scuffing.

A baseball degrades quickly when it is thrown at 90+ MPH and is contacted with the kind of bat speed that a modern major league player can generate. Given the fact that the slightest scuff or frayed thread can add movement to the ball, and one can see why the life span of a ML baseball is tragically short. LOL

I wonder, knowing that this hasn’t been kept track of at all, by anyone, how long (innings) a MLB baseball managed to stay in the game without being fouled into the stands or whacked for a homer. A century ago I’d imagine there was only one ball used in a number of games.

It wasn’t too long ago that MLB was much less generous with its baseball use. Before the 1994 strike, it was far, far less common to give away baseballs that stayed on the field. And, as Jasmine notes, scuffed balls are to a pitcher’s advantage, and MLB prioritizes offense. That said, baseballs that aren’t gifted to the stands find a second life in batting practice. In the past, visiting teams would have to actually bring their own practice balls, but no longer. More balls per game (about 65) means more second-hand balls means the weight on team flights can go to needier items…like sunflower seeds. :cool:

The stat I always used to see was 9 pitches was the average life span of a Major League baseball.

I never believed that, but then I watch mostly Red Sox games, and they foul off a ton of pitches. A ball is lucky to make it 3 in a Sox game.

Nine sounds too high. There are roughly 300 pitches in the average game, and typically five dozen or more balls are used, which comes to 5 pitches per ball.

The reason for MLB’s high ball usage is simply that

  1. Fresh baseballs are much, much safer are fairer to use, and
  2. They’re loaded with money and have no reason not to use a lot of them.

Baseballs may have a (very slightly) higher lifespan now, as they’re being hit a lot less than they were just 20 years ago. Strikeouts are now vastly higher than at any previous point in history.

That’s a lot of cows over the course of a season.

Noting that the cost is incidental but how much would a MLB baseball cost?

A cricket Test standard ball would retail around $120 (USD91).
A full length 5 day Test would use 4-8; they can be changed after 80x6 ball overs and are changed for the start of each inning.

Not nearly as much as a cricket ball. Various sources I’m finding by Googling suggest that MLB is getting balls for something in the range of $4-$6 each (though they retail for around $23).

In addition, before a game, each ball has a very particular mud rubbed into it by the umpiring team, in order to knock down the shine of the new leather, but that doesn’t add much to the cost.

Foolish me - I expected a discussion of REAL softballs - the 16" Clincher! :wink:

I was under the impression that the mud thing had come to an end, or was going to be ending soon. Is that right?

Not yet but it’s in the works.

If it only needs to last 5-6 pitches this new gloop can’t be having much actual effect?

I was a bit thrown off about a decade or so ago when my wife, who was a grad student at University of Chicago, invited me over to a softball game where they needed a couple of extra players. Having been born and raised in Chicago, though I was of course aware of some bastard version of “soft” ball played with oversized hard baseballs and using gloves existed in the world, I did not realize that it was allowed to be played within the confines of the city limits. So I was a little surprised when I realized I was somehow part of a 12" game, and I arrived gloveless (because what Chicagoan owns a softball mitt?), but at least a glove was provided for me. Oh, the times they are a changing. Also in the same park (Washington Park) there was a game of cricket going on a few fields over, so it’s a veritable melting pot of sports here. Or would it be bread basket? Whatever.

Hell, cricket is a hell of a lot more acceptable than recreational kittenball - a sport for hardball wannabes who can’t hit fast pitching, but still wanna feel macho about hitting the long ball! :wink: