Baseballs are made of four parts:
- The Center or Pill: The center is mostly made of rubber-covered cork, referred to as a cushioned cork center. Rawlings Major League baseballs use a two-piece rubber cover surrounding the cork.
- The Windings: The pill is surrounded by wrapped cotton, wool or poly-cotton blends, which layer several times around the ball. Higher-priced balls feature more winding and higher-quality thread or yarn.
- The Cover: The cover of most game balls is generally cowhide leather wrapped around the winding in two figure-8 panels. Synthetic- and rubber-covered balls are used for practice.
- The Seams: All baseballs are stitched by hand since there isn’t a machine to accommodate the spherical shape. Heavy-duty threads seam the cover together to create the finished baseball. Official MLB balls feature 108 stitches per ball. The two types of seams include regular, which are a flatter, lower-profile stitch, and raised seams, which stand higher, making for easier grip and better breaking balls.
At Hibbett Sports, we sell two sizes of baseballs: the official-size 9-inch ball and the T-ball size at 8.5 inches.
Softballs are made of three components:
- The Center: Softball centers are generally composed of polyurethane, but sometimes have a cork center.
- The Cover: Softball manufacturers use either leather, synthetic materials or rubber coverings, which are glued or cemented to the softball’s center.
- The Seams or Stitches: The stitches hold the cover together. Different softball associations use different stitch colors and seam types. Fast-pitch balls employ raised seams for better control and grip. Slow-pitch softballs have lower-profile seams that allow the ball to achieve maximum distance and truer flight.
Softballs also may be broken into traditional flight, which features a .47 COR (rebound or exit speed divided by inbound speed of a ball) allowing for a higher arc and traveling greater distances. Restricted flight softballs feature a COR lower than .47 and are often used on smaller fields or when more emphasis is placed on base hits versus home runs.
Hibbett Sports sells softballs in two sizes — 11-inch balls for women’s and youth leagues, both fast- and slow-pitch; and 12-inch softballs used in men’s leagues.