Baseball: History of the Ball

In 1858, the first commercially made baseballs were crafted by Harwood and Sons. Within two years time, John Van Horn, a former baseball player, also began manufacturing baseballs. In the late twentieth century, cushiony wood cores were created and patented by A.G. Spalding who founded the now well-known sports equipment manufacturing company. Spalding proved to be a major league baseball supplier until the late 1970s when Rawlings took over the position.

In 1909, Alfred J. Reach, a former baseball player and sports magnate patented the ivory nut cork centered core. The creator of the cork-centered ball, Benjamin F. Shibe argued that the ivory nut cork centered core would not prove a popular choice since, in the major leagues, it would be as popular as a “steel spiked studded base” or a “ferro-concrete” bat.

Around World War II, the baseball was made with a center crafted from vulcanized rubber materials: this idea was derived from the way golf balls were being manufactured at the time, and was the direct result of wartime shortages of materials. By the late 1970s, Rawlings took the lead position as the supplier of baseballs for the major leagues: they constructed hand-stitched baseballs with horsehide coverings. By 1974, cowhide coverings were used due to a shortage of horsehide materials.

Today, baseballs are manufactured with a specific size, weight, and style. The ball is crafted with a hard center made of cork or a rubber material. The core is then wrapped up in yarn. Once the wrapping is complete, the wrapped ball is covered in a layer of durable leather materials. Modern baseballs are 9 to 9.25 inches in terms of their circumference. Sometimes baseballs are crafted with a plastic exterior cover, and the string or yard used on the inside of the ball to wrap the cork or rubber core can measure up to a mile. While many baseballs are crafted with synthetic materials today, typically they are considered of lower quality and are not used by the major baseball leagues.

History Of Baseball: Origin Of The Glove

The earliest baseball games, unbelievably, were played without the use of protective gloves. When players played baseball without a glove to protect their hands they were identified as “barehanded” ball catchers. Later, non-webbed gloves were made that were used for the purposes of batting a ball to the ground so that it could be retrieved. The very first baseball player to ever rely on a glove was a Cincinnati Red Stockings catcher by the name of Doug Allison. In the 1870s, Allison had an injury on his left hand and required the glove for added protection. Later, a St. Louis first baseman and outfielder, Charles Waitt wore a baseball glove in 1875. This practice eventually became popular as players realized the benefits of glove use.

The earliest baseball gloves wear made of leather; the gloves had the finger tips removed so that the player could still control the use of their hand and maintain a grip on the ball. By the 1890s, baseball gloves were found in regular use. However, it was not until 1920, after the encouragement of a St. Louis Cardinals pitcher by the name of Bill Doak, that webbing was added to the thumb area of the glove so that the glove sported a pocketed area. At first gloves were only padded enough so that players had to still use two hands to catch the ball, but eventually additional padding was added so it was possible to catch a baseball one-handed. Today, gloves are manufactured by leading sporting goods companies like Vinci Co®, Mizuno®, Easton®, Nike®, Wilson®, Kelley Athletic®, Spalding®, Rawling®, Nokona®, Akadema®, and Hillerich & Bradsby®.

History Of Baseball: Playing In The Stadium

The word stadium was at one time only used to describe a track for running and a seating area for spectators. Once football became popular, a number universities and colleges that had running tracks and fields began creating stadiums. A boom in the creation of stadiums occurred in the 1920s. The first ballpark to be identified as a baseball stadium was the “Polo Grounds.” This location was later renamed after John T. Brush and called the Brush Stadium. By the 1920s, the Yankee Stadium was constructed. After the creation of the Yankee Stadium, all ballparks used by the major leagues were identified as “stadiums.” In 1954, the Shibe Park also had a name change and was from then on referred to as the Connie Mack Stadium. By the 1960s, indoor baseball stadiums were identified as domes, but the stadiums had names that still reflected that they were stadiums: examples include the Metrodome Stadium, the King County Dome Stadium, the Harris County Domed Stadium, and the Houston Astrodome Stadium.

Some historians assert that Forbes Stadium in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania was the first stadium used for baseball. This location was built in 1909 and demolished in the early 1970s. This stadium was designed by Charles Leavitt, Jr., a well-known architect, and was constructed by the Nicola Building Company. The site cost one to two million US dollars to construct and featured a hand-operated scoreboard. When it was originally built it could seat 23,000 people, but by the 1970s, it had enough seating for 35,000 spectators.

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