View Poll Results: Was a more lively ball introduced in 1919?

Voters
63. You may not vote on this poll
  • Yes, I believe a livlier ball was introduced into at least one league in 1919.

    45 71.43%
  • No, I do not believe that the ball was enlivened in 1919.

    18 28.57%
Page 7 of 10 FirstFirst ... 56789 ... LastLast
Results 151 to 175 of 245

Thread: Discussion on Baseballs through the years

  1. #151
    Quote Originally Posted by Ubiquitous View Post
    One other question I would like to ask is that you said the pills were similar in weight, well how similar? Like I said before the PM article says that a ball must weigh between 5 oz and 5.25 oz. and yet even with that small range the difference between the high and low end can lead to differences that are not negligible.
    I'll have to look that up, I never made it part of the presentation.

    Quote Originally Posted by Ubiquitous View Post
    Now then Mr. Hilliard I am sure since getting this published in the Discover magazine you have had all kinds of people approach you and ask all kinds of questions and share all kinds of info. Have you ever come across anybody "in the know" that gave you any clues as to what those changes might have been to make the ball livelier? For instance was there ever anybody that came up to you and said something like "Rawlings bought new equipment in 1994", or "In 1993 they started using this material instead of that material"? In otherwords was anybody able to shed some light on why your numbers are what they are?
    Ubi, in a word: No. I like the quote at the Silly Ball website: "Those who speak do not know and those who know do not speak." As I said Dr. Sherwood didn't give anything away when we met and if anyone knows something, he does!

    One thing that backs that up is that the Partnership was invited to present the results of their findings at a SABR conference in Boston in 1993(?) and Sherwood was invited as well, he sent regrets at the last minute that he could not appear (I thinks Rawlings stopped him).

    I actually met Jim at a conference on High School baseball athletics in Indianapolis, IN; where he presented his research on bats. The athletic directors were interested in the danger juiced baseballs and bats might present to players, especially pitchers.

    In a study done by a high school student here in RI (Science Fair Project), he found that in baseballs from other leagues: little league to the AAA league, the construction is very different from the MLB Baseball as well as from each other.
    Last edited by 4N6Science; 08-01-2007 at 06:31 AM.

  2. #152
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    Posts
    14,055
    Blog Entries
    2
    Astrosfan just posted a wonderful article from about 1925 in which they list the COR of baseballs from 1914, 1923, and 1925. The COR for those balls were .56, .57, .56. The 1999 and 2000 ball COR were .506 and .503

    Here is the data from that article:

    According to the Sherwood tests the COR was actually .554 in 1999 and .548 in 2000. Which means that the 80 and 90 year old balls actually bounced back with more of their energy intact then balls from 1999 and 2000.

    The .506 and .503 COR were actually results based on a hitting machine which more realisitically simulates real world envirnoments. So basically what you should look at is the Sherwood results compared to the Fales results since they both are testing on similar surfaces.
    Attached Images Attached Images
    Last edited by Ubiquitous; 07-31-2007 at 10:00 PM.

  3. #153
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    Posts
    14,055
    Blog Entries
    2
    Okay I have been skimming the Sherwood report and in it they do a simulated aging test on the pill and aging does alter the pill in those tests.

    Second thing I noticed is that they go into more detail about the variances in baseball. It was reported at the time that the specs could create a ball with a 49 foot difference from high side to low side. Turns out that is simply theory based on the actual specs. Sherwood never came across a ball at the extreme edges of the specs.
    Thus, the tested baseballs indicate that the 1999 and 2000 baseballs fall within a tight range of batted-ball performance and that the 1999 and 2000 baseballs are for all practical purposes the same with respect to batted ball performance. The 49.1-ft value is purely academic—it was not seen in the balls tested
    . All of the 1999 and 2000 pills exceeded the weight limit.
    Code:
    Ball wt (oz)	Wall Test COR	Batted-Ball 
    Distance (ft)	Difference in Batted-Ball 
    Distance (ft)
    5.11	0.551	400.0	---
    5.00	0.551	403.8	8.7 (Due to Weight)
    5.25	0.551	395.1	
    5.11	0.514	376.8	40.4 (Due to COR)
    5.11	0.578	417.2	
    5.00	0.578	421.3	49.1 (Due to Weight and COR)
    5.25	0.514	372.2
    Also in the report they list the specs for a ball, as you can see each layer of winding cannot contain more then 15% non-wool.
    Baseballs manufactured for Major League Baseball (the "League") for use in championship games (including the All-Star Game and World Series games) shall be made in accordance with the following specifications:

    A. Pill. The pill of the baseball shall consist of a compressed cork sphere surrounded by one layer of black rubber and one layer of red rubber. The pill shall weigh .85 ( .05 ounces and shall measure 1.375 ( .010 inches in diameter.

    B. Center. The center of the baseball shall be spherical and shall be produced by winding three layers of woolen yarn and one layer of poly/cotton yarn around the pill.
    1. First Wind. The first wind shall consist of a 4-ply gray woolen yarn containing approximately 85% wool and 15% other fibers, sized to 600 grains/50 yard reeling. The total size and weight of the center (including the cushion cork pill) after the first wind shall be: circumference- 7 8/16 ( 1/16 inches and weight- 2 14/16 ( 1/16 ounces.
    2. Second Wind. The second wind shall consist of a 3-ply white woolen yarn containing approximately 85% wool and 15% other fibers, sized to 450 grains/50 yard reeling. The total size and weight of the center after the second wind shall be: circumference- 8 ( 1/16 inches and weight- 3 6/16 ( 1/16 ounces.
    3. Third Wind. The third wind shall consist of a 3-ply gray woolen yarn containing approximately 85% wool and 15% other fibers, sized to 335 grains/50 yard reeling. The total size and weight of the center after the third wind shall be: circumference- 8 12/16 ( 1/16 inches and weight- 4 2/16 ( 1/16 ounces.
    4. Fourth Wind. The fourth wind shall consist of a white 20/2 poly-cotton 50/50 blend yarn. The total size and weight of the center after the fourth wind shall be: circumference- 8 12/16 to 8 13/16 inches and weight- 4 6/16 to 4 7/16 ounces.
    5. Cement Coating. A cement coating shall be applied to the center after the fourth wind and to the covers to hold the covers onto the center during the sewing operation. The size and weight of the center after application of the cement shall be: circumference- 8 12/16 to 8 13/16 inches and weight- 4 7/16 to 4 8/16 ounces.

    C. Covers. Covers shall be of grade #1 special alum tanned, full-grain, cowhide leather and shall be clear and well matched in color and texture. Grade #1 special alum tanned, full-grain, horsehide leather may be substituted for cowhide with the prior approval of the League. Covers shall be sewn onto the centers with double stitch 10/5 red thread. The weight of the covers shall be approximately .625 ounces per pair and the thickness of the covers shall be from.046 to .056 inches.
    1. Seam Height. The seams of finished baseballs shall be rolled or pressed so that they are of even height and reasonably flat against the cover surface.

    D. Weighing and Measuring Finished Baseballs. The circumference of finished baseballs shall be measured using a steel tape in gradations of 1/16 of an inch with 2 lbs. of tension applied to the tape. The circumference shall be determined by measuring twice over two seams and once over four seams, and thereafter averaging the three measurements. Finished baseballs shall measure 9.125 inches ( .125 inches in circumference and shall weigh 5.125 ounces ( .125 ounces.
    E. Coefficient of Restitution. The coefficient of restitution, or resiliency, of a finished baseball shall be determined by measuring the ratio of its rebound velocity to its impact velocity when the baseball is fired from an air cannon or similar device at a speed of 85 feet per second against an immobile impact surface constructed of northern white ash (baseball bat material), 2.5 inches thick, mounted onto a 12 inch square steel reinforced concrete column directly anchored to the ground. The coefficient of restitution of the baseball shall be between .514 and .578.
    All test measurements of coefficient of restitution shall be made on equipment which is satisfactory to the League and which has been designed to assure a high degree of accuracy.
    All test firings shall be made at an angle which is normal to the impact surface.
    Baseballs to be tested for coefficient of restitution shall first be stored for at least five full days at 70( F and 50% relative humidity within ( 5% in relative humidity and within ( 5( in temperature.
    For the purposes of this Agreement, the League approves the following measurement system: The impact and rebound velocity of a baseball shall be measured using a system of dual, light sensitive, solid state ballistics sensing screens connected to a pair of computing digital chronographs. The light screens shall be positioned 12 inches apart. The distance from the muzzle of the air cannon to the first light screen shall be a minimum of eight feet. The second light screen shall be at least six inches, but not more than 10 inches, from the impact surface. The time required for the ball to pass from the first light screen to the second while moving toward the impact surface shall be used to compute the impact velocity of the baseball. The time required for the ball to travel from the second light screen back to the first after collision with the impact surface shall be used to measure the rebound velocity of the baseball. The computing digital chronographs activated by the light screens shall be accurate within ( .05%.

    F. Appearance of Finished Baseball. Finished baseballs shall be reasonably free of cosmetic defects.
    Last edited by Ubiquitous; 07-31-2007 at 10:19 PM.

  4. #154
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    Posts
    14,055
    Blog Entries
    2
    Another thing Sherwoods report finds is that minor league balls are in horrible shape. They consistently underperform major league balls and are consistently out of spec. When you think about it that is some important information for people who are looking at minor leaguers and trying to figure out what they could do in the majors.

  5. #155
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    Posts
    14,055
    Blog Entries
    2
    Here is something else. In looking through various newspaper clippings I find that the COR of a 1982 ball was at .57. But I also find reference to a National Bureau of Standards test from 1943 of 1942 balls had a COR of .41. Now then this is probably because of the ballata balls but maybe it is something else. Anyway I believe ther report was numbered 1624. Does anybody know how to get access to that report?

    This is the paper:
    Briggs, L.J. 1945. Methods for measuring the coefficient of restitution and the spin of a ball. J. Res. Natl. Bur. Standards 34: Res. paper RP1624.
    It was written by Lyman Briggs and it looked at the ballata ball compared to the old ball. Anyone know how to get it?
    Last edited by Ubiquitous; 07-31-2007 at 11:13 PM.

  6. #156
    Quote Originally Posted by Ubiquitous View Post
    Astrosfan just posted a wonderful article from about 1925 in which they list the COR of baseballs from 1914, 1923, and 1925. The COR for those balls were .56, .57, .56. The 1999 and 2000 ball COR were .506 and .503

    Here is the data from that article:

    According to the Sherwood tests the COR was actually .554 in 1999 and .548 in 2000. Which means that the 80 and 90 year old balls actually bounced back with more of their energy intact then balls from 1999 and 2000.

    The .506 and .503 COR were actually results based on a hitting machine which more realisitically simulates real world envirnoments. So basically what you should look at is the Sherwood results compared to the Fales results since they both are testing on similar surfaces.
    Ubi: Could you post the entire article for us? I think that would help us understand the context, origin and meaning of the truncated data you have attached.

  7. #157
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    Posts
    14,055
    Blog Entries
    2
    Here you go

  8. #158
    Thank you for that, Ubi. That makes things much clearer.

    It appears that Professor Fales concluded there was only one "slight" difference in ball manufacture that would favor batters. That was a change involving "undercut" stitching, resulting in a smoother ball. This is a particularly interesting conclusion in light of so many concerns today that the new balls are also suspected of being much more batter-friendly due to flatter stitching [and tighter skins].

    It's unclear to me who, if anybody, funded Professor Fales' study. This is always an important consideration when scrutinizing the value and credibility of such reports. Buying silence, of course, is not part of the scientific method. Openess is. Secrecy and financial dependence in scientific studies often leads to error, omission, compromise, and/or deception. We are fortunate that Dennis Hilliard and the URI Forensic Sciences Partnershp have been wonderfully open and forthright. No "noise" there, Ubi.

    From the Times article, it's uncertain to me whether there was some contractual affiliation between Fales and NL President Curtiss, as there is today between the MLB and BRC. There also seems to be an almost complete lack of information on how exactly these tests were conducted. Is there access to the complete original report, or was that, too, barred from peer-review and public release by the Major Leagues, as was the BRC report?
    Last edited by TRfromBR; 08-01-2007 at 04:39 AM.

  9. #159
    Quote Originally Posted by Ubiquitous View Post
    Here is something else. In looking through various newspaper clippings I find that the COR of a 1982 ball was at .57. But I also find reference to a National Bureau of Standards test from 1943 of 1942 balls had a COR of .41. Now then this is probably because of the ballata balls but maybe it is something else. Anyway I believe ther report was numbered 1624. Does anybody know how to get access to that report?

    This is the paper:
    It was written by Lyman Briggs and it looked at the ballata ball compared to the old ball. Anyone know how to get it?


    Japanese seizure of Malaysia and the Dutch East Indies in December of 1941, cutoff our supply of rubber, leading to a declared critical shortage and War Board prohitibion. The balata balls first dramatically impacted the 1943 season, I believe. With 11 of the first 29 games being shutouts, it was definitely bad news for batting. But there were severe shortage issues concerning European horsehide leather were significant, too. All changes totaled, the '43 ball, on average, was slightly above 25% less lively, as confirmed by contemporaneous scientific testing at Cooper Union.
    Attached Images Attached Images
    Last edited by TRfromBR; 08-01-2007 at 03:04 AM.

  10. #160
    Quote Originally Posted by Ubiquitous View Post
    Here is something else. In looking through various newspaper clippings I find that the COR of a 1982 ball was at .57. But I also find reference to a National Bureau of Standards test from 1943 of 1942 balls had a COR of .41. Now then this is probably because of the ballata balls but maybe it is something else. Anyway I believe ther report was numbered 1624. Does anybody know how to get access to that report?

    This is the paper:
    It was written by Lyman Briggs and it looked at the ballata ball compared to the old ball. Anyone know how to get it?

    Lyman Briggs was one of America's most renown scientific leaders. He was the head of the Uranium Committee and of the National Bureau of Standards, where Roosevelt apparently authorized him to scientifically study baseballs. He gained more fame, though, by proving that curves really curved - just as Dizzy Dean told 'em. He's pictured below (on the left) conducting one of his post-war tests. His reports are likely available throught the NBS's successor, National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). You may also want to seek out the Cooper Union study on the '43 baseballs. Basically, though, it all came down to manufacturing changes due to critical war shortages of rubber and horsehide.


    Attached Images Attached Images
    Last edited by TRfromBR; 08-01-2007 at 03:28 AM.

  11. #161
    Anyone aware of any testing of balls and the results of that testing performed on balls before the cork center ball came in 1910-1911.

  12. #162
    Quote Originally Posted by SHOELESSJOE3 View Post
    Dennis could you give us more on that statement, where you say possibly Sherwood cannot give some results regarding testing of balls going back previous years.
    Shoelessjoe3,

    First I want to thank you for contacting me about this discussion and giving me the link to register and welcoming me to the discussion along with the others.

    The Sherwood comment about additional research was in the Discover Magazine article by Curtis Rist, who did a lot of research of his own to put together a balanced article. The quote is at the end of the second to last paragraph of the article, May 2001, Vol. 22, No. 5, "The Physics of Baseballs", p. 26-27.

    "For his part, Sherwood has run a battery of tests on balls dating back to the 60s, but he won't say when he will release the results. "That's privileged information," he says."

    Shoelessjoe3, maybe you should track down Dr. Sherwood and see if he will join the discussion.
    Last edited by Bill Burgess; 08-01-2007 at 06:32 AM.

  13. #163
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Location
    Chicago
    Posts
    833
    This is very interesting stuff!! One thing I wanted to add about the liveliness of the balls is that in softball there are two components that are used to test the liveliness of the ball: COR and Compression. Balls with a higher compression are livelier than low compression balls. ASA tests indicate that compression appears to impact the liveliness of the ball more than COR.

    I don't know if the ball compression varies much in regards to baseballs but if they do, that's something else to consider.
    "Batting slumps? I never had one. When a guy hits .358, he doesn't have slumps."

    Rogers Hornsby, 1961

  14. #164
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    Posts
    14,055
    Blog Entries
    2
    Here is an artcile about the Copper Union tests done in 1953.

  15. #165
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    Posts
    14,055
    Blog Entries
    2
    Near the end of the 1961 season there was again talk of a lively ball since Maris and Mantle were assaulting the record books. So once again another scientist took a look at the balls. The NYT wrote 3 page article about it. Here is the third page with the data. The COR was .5534 for a 34 year old ball, .5672 for a 25 year old ball, .5517 for a one year old ball, and .5638 for the 1961 ball

  16. #166
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Location
    Chicago
    Posts
    833
    That equates to a COR of .567 for the 1953 balls and a COR of .548 for the 1952 balls. This article mentions the difference in compression as a factor too.
    "Batting slumps? I never had one. When a guy hits .358, he doesn't have slumps."

    Rogers Hornsby, 1961

  17. #167
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    Posts
    14,055
    Blog Entries
    2
    From 1977:

  18. #168
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    Posts
    14,055
    Blog Entries
    2
    Here is a little blurb about the 1987 ball which again says the change could very well be the stitching. The leagues did a test midway through the season for COR and found no change. I haven't found that study yet.:

  19. #169
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    Posts
    14,055
    Blog Entries
    2
    Quote Originally Posted by Bench 5 View Post
    This is very interesting stuff!! One thing I wanted to add about the liveliness of the balls is that in softball there are two components that are used to test the liveliness of the ball: COR and Compression. Balls with a higher compression are livelier than low compression balls. ASA tests indicate that compression appears to impact the liveliness of the ball more than COR.

    I don't know if the ball compression varies much in regards to baseballs but if they do, that's something else to consider.

    That equates to a COR of .567 for the 1953 balls and a COR of .548 for the 1952 balls. This article mentions the difference in compression as a factor too.
    It probably does play a role. Sherwood found that when he more closely simulated a real world ball-bat collision that the COR was lower then if you were to simply fling a ball at a piece of ash. So a ball that is "stiff" might just rebound rebound off a bat differently then a ball that was "mush" and yet still have the same COR number in the basic tests.

    Another thing I have seen so far is that the seams also play a role in this, in terms of distance traveled and not just on the pitchers ability to control the ball.

  20. #170
    Quote Originally Posted by 4N6Science View Post
    Shoelessjoe3,

    First I want to thank you for contacting me about this discussion and giving me the link to register and welcoming me to the discussion along with the others.

    The Sherwood comment about additional research was in the Discover Magazine article by Curtis Rist, who did a lot of research of his own to put together a balanced article. The quote is at the end of the second to last paragraph of the article, May 2001, Vol. 22, No. 5, "The Physics of Baseballs", p. 26-27.

    "For his part, Sherwood has run a battery of tests on balls dating back to the 60s, but he won't say when he will release the results. "That's privileged information," he says."

    Shoelessjoe3, maybe you should track down Dr. Sherwood and see if he will join the discussion.

    Will do Dennis. Away from home at this time but will be home soon and will then do my best to contact and invite Dr. Sherwood .

    Again thanks for joining in, hope you can stay a while or at the least check out the board once in a while.
    Joe

  21. #171
    Great articles, Ubi. Things just keep getting more curiouser and curiouser ... and livelier and livelier.

    With respect to the compression issue, I do believe it can play as significant role, for both balls and bats. Somewhat related may be the "trampoline effect," prominently demonstrated [more extremely] by longer hits off aluminum bats.

    What appears to have happened over the years is an ever-changing admixture of both deliberate and inadvertant changes in ball manufacture. One thing's for sure, the Leagues have long known how to tweak the ball, if they were so inclined.


  22. #172
    Quote Originally Posted by 4N6Science View Post
    Shoelessjoe3,

    First I want to thank you for contacting me about this discussion and giving me the link to register and welcoming me to the discussion along with the others.

    The Sherwood comment about additional research was in the Discover Magazine article by Curtis Rist, who did a lot of research of his own to put together a balanced article. The quote is at the end of the second to last paragraph of the article, May 2001, Vol. 22, No. 5, "The Physics of Baseballs", p. 26-27.

    "For his part, Sherwood has run a battery of tests on balls dating back to the 60s, but he won't say when he will release the results. "That's privileged information," he says."

    Shoelessjoe3, maybe you should track down Dr. Sherwood and see if he will join the discussion.
    Took you up on that one Dennis. That would be a treat, you and possibly James Sherwood visiting this board .

    Just emailed James Sherwood, told him you dropped in and asked him to join in.
    Attached Images Attached Images

  23. #173
    Quote Originally Posted by Ubiquitous View Post
    Here is a little blurb about the 1987 ball which again says the change could very well be the stitching. The leagues did a test midway through the season for COR and found no change. I haven't found that study yet.:
    Something certainly took place in 1987. MLB hits 645 more home runs in 1987 than in 1986 when there was supposedly no rule changes or ball change.

    Some numbers from all of MLB, AL and NL, a couple of years before and after that 1987 explosion.

    ----------------Ba.----------Home runs------Slugging.
    1985----------.257------------3602-----------.391
    1986----------.258------------3813-----------.395
    1987----------.263------------4458-----------.415
    1988----------.254------------3180-----------.378
    1989----------.254------------3083-----------.375

    1987 we see 645 more home runs than in 1986.
    1988 we see 1278 less home runs than 1987.

    I can't say it was the ball, all kinds of theories over the years even the weather and the atmosphere.


    The drop, the coming back to the real world 1278 less home runs hit in 1988 compared to 1987, a correction or change in the strike zone. OK I'll give MLB that one. But how do they explain the leap from 1986 with 3813 to 4458 home run in 1987.

    To my knowledge the rule book strike zone was the same in 1986 and 1987.
    Add to that all of MLB in one season 1987 (.263) hits for five points higher than just the previous season 1986 with .258.

  24. #174
    Quote Originally Posted by SHOELESSJOE3 View Post
    Something certainly took place in 1987. MLB hits 645 more home runs in 1987 than in 1986 when there was supposedly no rule changes or ball change.

    Some numbers from all of MLB, AL and NL, a couple of years before and after that 1987 explosion.

    ----------------Ba.----------Home runs------Slugging.
    1985----------.257------------3602-----------.391
    1986----------.258------------3813-----------.395
    1987----------.263------------4458-----------.415
    1988----------.254------------3180-----------.378
    1989----------.254------------3083-----------.375

    1987 we see 645 more home runs than in 1986.
    1988 we see 1278 less home runs than 1987.

    I can't say it was the ball, all kinds of theories over the years even the weather and the atmosphere.


    The drop, the coming back to the real world 1278 less home runs hit in 1988 compared to 1987, a correction or change in the strike zone. OK I'll give MLB that one. But how do they explain the leap from 1986 with 3813 to 4458 home run in 1987.

    To my knowledge the rule book strike zone was the same in 1986 and 1987.
    Add to that all of MLB in one season 1987 (.263) hits for five points higher than just the previous season 1986 with .258.
    We might have to call Al Gore into this discussion, too, Shoeless Joe.(Too bad Global Warming didn't start earlier, Ruth would have really been banging them out.)

  25. #175

    Basball destructive Project @ URI

    Sorry it has been awhile, but the posts tended to die down and I got a bit sidetracked IRL

    Ubi had asked about the weight of the pills and I had tried to get additional information. It was brought back to the forefront when i received an email from Eric Walker, who is the webmaster for the following sites:
    Steroids and Baseball: http://steroids-and-baseball.com/
    The High Boskage Baseball Web Site: http://highboskage.com/

    His correspondence reminded me about the converssation started here.

    I suspect that James Sherwood did not come along for a visit.

    Here is the study as written for publication by Dr. Chris Brown of the URI chemistry Department. Eric is interested in extending the experiment and he will also publish the paper at his website. Unfortunately the images in the report cannot be inserted, so you may have to go the Eric's website to view it or I can send it as an attachment to an email. My email: dch@uri.edu

    The Changing Anatomy of
    Major League Baseballs


    Chris W. Brown, Scott W. Huffman, and Kara Lukasiewicz , Department of Chemistry
    Dennis C. Hilliard, R.I. State Crime Laboratory
    Linda M. Welters and Margaret Ordoñez, Department of Textiles, Fashion Merchandising and Design
    Otto J. Gregory and Michael J.Platek, Department of Chemical Engineering
    University of Rhode Island
    Kingston, RI 02881


    America’s pastime sport of baseball has always held a certain mystique. The infamous spitballs or grease balls often bring objections from the home plate umpire. The secret hand signals from the manager to the third base coach to the second base runner appear to be a bit of wizardry. These signals are not much different than the one-, two-, three- and four-finger signals from the catcher to the pitcher, who keeps shaking his head until he receives the desired number of fingers. The current craze is batters who tug at and re-adjust their batting gloves after every pitch or simply jump out of the batter’s box as soon as the pitcher is ready to deliver.

    Although much of the mystique still exists in baseball, considerable change has taken place during the century or so since the sport's introduction. The most notable development in recent years has been the smashing of homerun records several times in as many years. The record-breaking number of homeruns accompanies an increase in extra base hits relative to the number of single base hits. In the early 1900s, the "power factor" --the average number of bases per hit over a season--was about 1.30.1 After World War I, the average moved up to about 1.4 during the Babe Ruth era and stayed there until it decreased during World War II. After this war, the power rating increased to about 1.45 and stayed close to this average until the 1990s. Since 1994, the power rating has been greater than 1.55. The average number of runs scored per major league baseball game during the eight-year span from 1994 to 2001 increased by 15% over the same average for the years 1985 to 1992.1 These types of statistics lead baseball enthusiasts and commentators to speculate on possible causes.

    One of the possible causes is changes in the ball. As a consequence of the record pace at which home runs were being hit in the Major Leagues during the early part of the 2000 season, a local radio station (AM 790 The SCORE) in Providence, RI solicited its listening audience to donate baseballs recovered from major league games at any time since 1960. Baseballs--purportedly obtained from major league games in 1963, 1970, 1989, 1995 and 2000 -- were donated to the radio station for testing. Subsequently, the radio station transferred the balls to the University of Rhode Island Forensic Science Partnership for evaluation and analysis.

    Major League Baseball Specifications2,3
    The components of a major league baseball are shown schematically in Figure 1. The center of a ball is called a “pill” and consists of a cork core surrounded by a layer of black rubber and a layer of red rubber. The pill is wrapped in 4-ply gray wool yarn followed by layers of 3-ply white wool yarn, 3-ply gray wool yarn and finally a cotton yarn. This outer layer of cotton yarn is enclosed in a full-grain cowhide leather cover, which is hand stitched together with 108 stitches. Finally, the specifications state that the weight of each ball is to be within 5 and 5 ¼ ounces and have a circumference between 9 and 9 ¼ inches.

    The specifications were established in 18724 and according to Major League Baseball (MLB) the ball has not changed significantly since that time. The original rubber center was replaced with cork in 1910, and the cork was cushioned with rubber as of 1926. Synthetic rubber was used during the 2nd World War, and since 1974 cowhide as well as horsehide was authorized for the covers. The A.G. Spalding Company made baseballs from 1877 to 1976, when the Rawlings Sporting Goods Company3 became the supplier of the 700,000 plus balls needed by the major leagues each year.

    Fallon and Sherwood5 at the Baseball Research Center Performances evaluated baseballs from the years 1999 and 2000. Investigations into the physics and activities of baseballs can be found in other reports.6,7

    Our investigations into the anatomy of the five baseballs obtained by the local radio station focused on the materials used in the windings and in the pills. In both cases, the use of synthetic materials is an obvious source for changing the performance of the baseball.

    Windings
    According to Major League Baseball specifications, the wool windings may contain 15%  3% non-wool fibers. Windings from the oldest and newest balls are shown in Figure 2. As the five balls were dissected, the windings were separated into the four categories consisting of 4-ply gray, 3-ply white, 3-ply gray wools and cotton yarns by color. In all cases, the windings and the pills were handled with surgical gloves to avoid any contamination.

    Initial investigation involved taking 5 cm cuttings of each of the three wool windings. Each of the cuttings was dried, weighed, treated chemically to remove the wool and weighed again. Results showed that the three recent balls contained significant proportions of non-wool fibers in all three of the wool windings. The percentages of non-wool fiber for each of the three windings for the five balls are shown in Figure 3. Not only did the synthetic fibers in the windings increase between the 2 early balls and the 3 more recent balls, the percentages in the three windings of the newer balls in some cases exceeded the tolerance levels for non-wool fibers

    How would synthetic fibers in percentages of nearly 20% change the performance of the ball? Before we try to answer that question, we must consider the types of synthetic fibers used in the balls. Several types of synthetic materials could be added to the windings and each has different properties. Textiles are often blends of natural and synthetic fibers. Each type of fiber, whether it is natural or synthetic, has specific physical properties. By blending synthetic fibers with natural fibers, it is possible to obtain materials with a desired set of properties for specific end uses: for example, carpets.

    We decided to conduct additional tests to determine the fiber content of the non-wool fibers from the 1989, 1995 and 2000 balls. Because the windings are made from recycled carpet fibers, we focused on tests for acrylic, nylon and polyester since these are the major synthetic carpet fibers. Using a modification of AATCC test method 20A-1955, we homogenized 3 mm cuttings from each of the wool windings. Figure 4 shows the percentages of acrylic, nylon and polyester in the non-wool fibers in the three newer balls. The percentage of acrylic fibers was fairly constant, ranging from 40 to 55%. The percentage of nylon and polyester varied considerably between the three balls.

    Two fiber properties that are important in baseballs are resiliency and moisture regain. Resiliency is the ability of a fiber to spring back to a natural position after folding, creasing or other deformation, whereas moisture regain is the ability of a bone-dry fiber to absorb moisture at 70 F and 65% relative humidity. Wool, nylon and polyester have excellent resiliency, while acrylic has good resiliency. The property that varies the most between wool and the synthetic fibers is moisture regain, as seen in Figure 5. Wool regains 15% of its weight in moisture under standard conditions, while nylon, acrylic and polyester regain significantly less moisture. In humid conditions (> 65% relative humidity) wool can absorb up to a third of its weight in moisture. Thus, an all-wool ball will be heavier and slower than a ball with 16-20% synthetic fibers in the windings. In other words, the balls from 1989, 1995 and 2000 would be lighter than the 1963 and 1970 balls under any conditions except bone dry air.

    Pills
    The pills were removed from each of the baseballs and were tested individually for resilience and bounce. To insure that the pills were not damaged during removal, the individual windings were simply unraveled. The mechanical properties of the pills would prove to be very insightful since the pills were protected by layers of windings and the rawhide cover, making this part of the baseball the least exposed to the elements that could possibly degrade the materials; i.e. UV light, heat and humidity.

    Mechanical Testing of Pills. Given that the mechanical properties of the central pill differ from the mechanical properties of the entire baseball, a relative study of the mechanical properties of the pills was undertaken. These tests included a bounce test for rebound and a uniaxial compression test to evaluate elastic modulus and stiffness. Since the windings and leather covers have different mechanical properties than the pill itself, the overall performance of the baseball including resilience and elastic/plastic deformation will be different. However, we believe that the pills offered the best opportunity to evaluate the mechanical properties of aged baseballs and the nature of the materials used to assemble the balls over the past 40 years, since the premise that balls are indeed livelier is based on changes in the materials of construction.

    The rebound test consisted of dropping the pills from the different major league baseballs from a height of 182 in onto a concrete floor and measuring the rebound distance with a tape measure. A total of 10 measurements were made on each pill and the rebound distances were averaged. The results of the drop test are presented in Figure 6. It should be noted that wind resistance was minimal due to the relatively low terminal velocity of the pills falling from that height and that there was little plastic (permanent) deformation as a result of the pill impacting the concrete surface. The pills were checked for any plastic deformation after the bounce test and there appeared to be little if any permanent distortion.

    The pills were also tested in compression using an MTS tensile testing machine8. The crossheads of the tensile testing instrument were adjusted such that the pills were placed in between the crossheads and an extensometer (strain gage) was placed between the crossheads to determine displacement as the crossheads traveled towards one another as the pill was placed into compression. The load and corresponding displacements were recorded. The slope of the linear portion of the resulting stress-strain curve is related to the elastic modulus or stiffness of the material comprising the pill. The elastic modulus was established for each pill. Since there was considerable plastic deformation of the pills at higher loads, each pill was tested only once in compression. The pills experienced considerable permanent deformation as a result of the testing and took the form of plats on either end of the pill i.e. the pills were no longer round. Since the modulus of resilience is inversely proportional to the elastic modulus or stiffness of the material, only the elastic modulus was presented in Figure 7. The modulus of resilience can be inferred from the elastic modulus in each case. The experimental results showed that the pills taken from the earlier three baseballs had the least rebound distance averaging only 60 inches, whereas those pills taken from baseballs in 1995 and 2000 had substantially larger rebound distances, averaging more than 80 inches. This represents a 33% increase in rebound distance and, if the rest of the materials comprising the baseball were considered perfectly elastic for purposes of discussion (which of course they are not), this would translate into a baseball that would be 33% livelier than the baseballs used decades earlier.

    The experimental results from the compression tests were consistent with those established from the drop tests, i.e. the pills that exhibited the largest rebound distances had the lowest elastic modulus (highest modulus of resilience) and those that exhibited the least rebound distance had the largest elastic modulus (lowest modulus of resilience). The experimental results also showed that the pills taken from the earlier three baseballs had the largest moduli of elasticity ranging from 700 to 1000 psi, whereas those pills taken from newer baseballs had substantially smaller moduli of elasticity, ranging from 500 to 575 psi. From Figure 6, it was shown that the rebound distance for the pills taken from the earlier baseballs were very consistent with one another suggesting that the materials of construction did not change much over that time period. The rebound distances for the pills taken from the newer baseballs were also consistent with one another, suggesting that the materials of construction did not change after that time. A similar result was obtained from the compression tests, which provides further support for the case that the balls were juiced between 1989 and 1995.

    FTIR Spectra and Images of Pills. Once the physical testing of the pills was completed, the pills were bisected. The two halves of the five pills are shown in Figure 8. There are obvious visual differences between the 2 early balls and the 3 more recent balls; the center core of the older balls looks like cork, whereas the same sections of the newer balls are much darker. In addition, the outer red (pink) layer of rubber is darker in the three newer balls; this difference can be seen on the outer surface of this layer and in the cross-sectional view.

    The visual differences suggest that there might be chemical differences between the materials used to make the pills. Thus, we subjected the pills to infrared spectroscopic analysis. FTIR spectra can be used to identify chemicals present in a sample, whether the sample be pure or a mixture. Each pure chemical absorbs different
    amounts of infrared radiation at different wavelengths. The intensities of light absorbed at different wavelengths is plotted as a function of the wavelength and this gives the infrared spectral fingerprint of the material. Thus, each pure chemical has an individual infrared fingerprint consisting of a graph showing a number of peaks and valleys. This fingerprint can be matched with known fingerprints stored in a library. In the case of chemical mixtures, the infrared pattern is a composite of the patterns for the pure components. There are mathematical methods for extracting patterns of the pure components from the composite pattern.

    Infrared spectral fingerprints of each layer in the pills were measured and are shown in Figure 9. For the two early balls (1963 and 1970), spectra and therefore the chemical components are very similar within each of the three layers. As can be seen on the right side of the figure, the spectra of the cork cores for the early two balls are very similar to the spectrum of a laboratory cork. The spectra of the black layers are nearly identical for the early two balls, although the relative intensities of the bands vary slightly. This is probably due to variations in the ratios of the chemical components in this layer. The same is true for the red rubber of the early two balls, and again, there are some variations in the ratios of bands.

    Major spectroscopic differences are observed for the cork core and the red rubber, when comparing spectra for the 3 newer balls with the 2 older balls. The spectra of the cork core no longer resembles the spectrum of the laboratory cork Spectra of the red layers are similar in the new 3 balls, but they differ considerably from spectra of the early 2 balls. Spectra of the black layer are similar for the 2 early balls, but there is a noticeably change with the 1989 ball and another change with the 1995 ball; the two recent balls are very similar.

    The most significant changes between the 2 early balls and the 3 newer balls are in the cork cores and the red rubber layers. The spectra of the red rubber in the 3 newer balls are very similar to the spectra of the “cork” cores in the same 3 balls. Thus, it appears that the cork cores may not be cork. To understand this better, we measure infrared hyperspectral images of the cork areas. These measurements were performed with a 64x64 pixel infrared sensitive camera attached to an Fourier Transform infrared spectrometer9. Microscopic images of areas ~0.5 x 0.5 mm were obtained. Two spectral images of a cork area from the 1963 ball and one spectral image of the cork area of the 2000 ball are shown in Figure 10. The small 0.5x0.5 mm spot on the 1963 ball consists of two different materials; the spectra and the images are for these two materials. The top spectrum is that of cork and the image shows the location of the cork in the false color image (red color indicates high and blue low concentrations). The second spectrum for the 1963 ball is that of a mixture of butadiene-styrene copolymer and calcium carbonate. The image corresponding to this spectrum is for the same location as the first image, but it shows the location of the butadiene-styrene copolymer / calcium carbonate. The images of the 1963 ball indicate that the cork core was mainly cork surrounded by the butadiene-styrene / calcium carbonate mixture.

    The lowest spectrum and image in Figure 10 were obtained for the 2000 ball. The infrared spectrum corresponds to a mixture of latex rubber and clay. The entire 64x64 image corresponded to this mixture. We could not find any evidence of cork on the cross-sectional surface of the 2000 ball. The “cork” cores of the 1989 and 1995 balls also consist of a latex rubber / clay mixture and cork could not be found. The core of the 1970 ball had a similar distribution of cork and butadiene-styrene copolymer / calcium carbonate as the 1963 ball. The infrared spectral analysis shows that there are major differences between the features and compositions of the early 2 balls and the 3 recent balls


    Conclusions

    The analyses of components from the five baseballs in this study clearly show that there were material differences between the 2 early balls and the 3 newer balls. From the analysis of the windings, we conclude that the increase in amount of synthetic fibers used in the baseballs from 1989, 1995 and 2000 could make the balls go further than balls with higher wool content. Furthermore, infrared analysis of the pills from the five balls showed that the materials used in making the pills also changed from the 2 early balls to the 3 newer balls. The minor changes in the compositions of the pills during the 1990s most probably accounts for increase in rebounds (bounce) of pills for the 2 newer balls.

    To confirm the observations reported herein more documented baseballs are needed. Questions do arise as to the age of the balls and the effects of degradation with time. The aging effects could account for the reduced bounce in the older balls, but they cannot account for the compositional changes in the windings and pills. It would be very useful to examine documented balls from the last four decades at 5-year increments. In this way the mechanical and chemical properties could be correlated with each other and possibly with baseball “power factor.”



    References

    1) High Boskage House Baseball-Analysis Web Site http://www.highboskage.com/THEBALL.htm

    2) Rawlings Sporting Goods Company, St. Louis, Mo (2000).

    3) Muscel Shoals Rubber Company, Batesville, Mississippi, June 1, 2000, MajorLeagueBaseball.com.

    4) Spitters, Beanballs and the Incredible Shrinking Strike Zone, G. Waggoner, K. Moloney and H. Howard, Triumph Books, Chicago (2000).

    5) L. P. Fallon and J. A. Sherwood, Baseball Research Center, University of Mass-Lowell, “Performance Comparison of the 1999 and 2000 Major League Baseballs” submitted to MBL on June 27, 2000.

    6) “The Physics of Baseball” Alan M. Nathan, University of Illinois (http://www.npl.uiuc.edu/~a-nathan/pob/) (2003).

    7) “Bouncing Balls”http://www.exploratorium.edu/basebal...ing_balls.html (2003).

    8) Materials Science and Engineering:An Introduction, 5th Edition by William D. Callister,Jr., Wiley,1999, p. 130

    9) Stingray 7000 FTIR Imaging Spectrometer, Digilab, Randolph, MA.

Page 7 of 10 FirstFirst ... 56789 ... LastLast

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •