Monday, November 15, 2010

MLB Trivia: How Many Baseballs in a Baseball Game?

Have you ever wondered how many baseballs are typically used in a major league baseball game?

It seems like a simple enough question, but finding the right answer online isn't so easy. When I Googled for the answer, the first Web page that popped up was from It gave a few different answers, one saying 40 to 50 baseballs were used per game, and another estimating 60 to 70 baseballs per game. It also said that, according to the MLB, the home team was required to have 90 baseballs on hand for a game. The only problem is that when I tried to verify this number of "90 baseballs" with an actual MLB source ( or otherwise), I couldn't find anyone else listing these numbers except for a Yahoo answers page regurgitating the same language and numbers. As far as I can tell, the aforementioned numbers are myths.

Fortunately, I've found the correct answer. It comes from a Pittsburgh Post-Gazette article written by Mark Roth and titled, "MLB: The true life story of baseballs." In the article, Roth reports on an actual game between the Pittsburgh Pirates and Milwaukee Brewers. That game used 104 baseballs, which is about 15 fewer than average, according to the Pirates' equipment manager. So not only is it ridiculous to say that an MLB team is only required to have 90 baseballs on hand, the average number of baseballs used in a game is about 120.


Anonymous said...

Greg, Thank you for doing the research. My husband and I were just talking about this last week.Now I can text him with the correct answer.

Greg McConnell said...

You're welcome! I'm glad this blog could be of help.

Lynne McKay said...

My husband was just asking about this,thanks for the answer.

Anonymous said...

Funny now all of us posting are posting because our husbands were curious! What would they do without us?

Greg McConnell said...

Haha! I noticed that trend as well.

Also, for what it's worth, this post usually gets the most Google hits on this blog every year. It's a question that people are curious about, but not many places on the web have the answer. Of course, that could change at any time.

Anonymous said...

My husband and I are watching the game tonight Pirates at Cincinnati. Talking about how many balls they must use and wondering what happens to the balls. Are they used again, donated, discarded, recycled?

Greg McConnell said...

The link to the article got moved, but I've found it again. Here's the excerpt where the Pittsburgh Pirates' equipment manager Roger Wilson talks about what happens to the balls that were used in an MLB game but not lost as a foul ball, homer, etc.

These days, Wilson estimates, a ball lasts about eight days in the majors.

It is used only once in a game. Then it is relegated to batting practice, where it's used once or maybe twice, if it's not too beat up. From there it goes to the indoor batting cages under the stands for four or five days, and then Wilson ships it to one of the Pirates' minor league franchises, which will use it for practice until it's worn out.

Wilson does look for ways to extend the life of his baseballs.
He'll order as many dozen "blems," baseballs with slight flaws, as he can get from Rawlings for batting and fielding practice.

He has a dishwasher-size machine called a "renewer" which can add a few days of life to some balls if they're merely scuffed. The renewer is a tumbler filled with chunks of gum eraser, which helps remove some of the grass and dirt stains.

Anonymous said...

This question is actually a question in the Trivial Pursuit Genus Edition game. There answer was over 200. Can't remember the exact, but that question is one of the sports questions.

Greg McConnell said...

Ah, glad to know that this question is in Trivial Pursuit Genius Edition! I suppose that if the average baseball game uses about 120 baseballs, then it would make sense that an MLB team would need to have at least 200 on hand.

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