'Baseball has been very, very good to me...' Chico Escuela -- Saturday Night Live.
Spring is here which means Baseball. The American pastime has long roots in history and as America grew, so did baseball. Traditionally, Abner Doubleday is credited with inventing the game (Hall of Fame site) in 1839 in Cooperstown, even though he was in West Point that year. Interestingly, Abner Doubleday was the Union Army officer who directed the first shots at Ft. Sumter and also served at Gettysburg. When the Hall of Fame opened in 1939 Time Magazine wrote the following:
"The world will little note nor long remember what (Doubleday) did at Gettysburg, but it can never forget what de did at Cooperstown." (HOF site)
The first officially recognized game of modern baseball was played on June 19, 1846 in Hoboken, New Jersey. The game featured the New York Nine against the Knickerbockers. The game lasted four innings with a T-ball worthy score of 23-1. The roots of baseball, though go back as far as 1344 in France and word 'baseball' is first mentioned in England in 1744. The game has evolved into a huge business with worldwide following. It is one of the few sports where, besides the infield, the field of play can vary from location to location.
The ball itself has also changed through the years. Typically it has a cork or rubber center, with yarn wrapping and a leather cover. The yarn can be up to one mile long and there are 108 double stitches per ball. One of the legends of baseball is that the original balls used didn't travel far, so an extra player was added to the ones in the infield covering the bases. This player played short, near the pitcher to field the ball (either from the batter or the outfield). That person is now called the shortstop.
The baseball we scanned (borrowed from my son) looks to be one of the rubber centered balls. I find it interesting that the 'core' is not completely spherical. It may be that this causes some balls to curve more than others. The yarn can be seen wound around the core as can a lot of the surface blemishes on the cover. We also scanned a softball (to be posted later) which has much less internal structure. Interestingly, softballs actually weigh more than baseballs. The 3D video of the ball can be seen here. This was scanned on the SkyScan 1173.
Here is a great video from the series howstuffworks on Discovery which shows how baseballs are made. You can actually see the different types of yarn in the 3D scan.
With all the technological advances of the modern world (including Micro-CT's), I think it is fitting that the stitching of all of the balls for the majors are done by hand. A traditional method for a traditional game.
Enjoy the spring and the baseball seasons, be they professional or the local little leage games.
Please visit the Micro Photonics Youtube Channel at: http://www.youtube.com/microphotonicsinc
Play Ball - Baseball Quotes
- "Hello again, everybody. It's a bee-yooo-tiful day for baseball!" - Harry Caray
- "You always get a special kick on opening day, no matter how many you go through. You look forward to it like a birthday party when you're a kid. You think something wonderful is going to happen." - Joe Dimaggio
- "One of the beautiful things about baseball is that every once in a while you come into a situation where you want to, and where you have to, reach down and prove something." - Nolan Ryan
- "There are three types of baseball players: those who make it happen, those who watch it happen, and those who wonder what happens." - Tommy Lasorda
- "It helps if the hitter thinks you're a little crazy." - Nolan Ryan
- "The game isn't over until it's over." - Yogi Berra
- "The state of baseball is the barometric pressure of America's soul." - Victor Alexander Baltov, Jr., Baseball is America