Let's Talk Baseball(s) — Complicated Little Spheres (Baseballs Part 1)
The first recorded baseball seam patent for “Improvement in Base-Balls” (Number US959755) for a baseball seam was issued on January 10, 1910, to Amos Alonzo Stagg, a famous American football coach and innovator. In 1963, Joseph Fossa filed his patent application titled "Method of Assembling Baseball Covers" which focused specifically on the mechanical sewing technique used to join the leather panels of the baseball cover.
These patents played a crucial role in revolutionizing baseball production by introducing faster and more consistent methods for creating high-quality baseballs.
It's also worth noting that the development of the baseball appears likely to involve experimentation and incremental improvements over time. While Stagg's 1910 patent may be the first officially documented one, earlier prototypes or designs might have existed without formal patent protection.
Other Baseball Seam PatentsSeveral other patents related to baseball seams were filed after Stagg's in 1910. These patents introduced different stitching patterns, materials, and methods for constructing the seam.
Typically, there are 216 individual stitches in a baseball (or 108 double stitches). These double stitches run along the 108 panels that make up the baseball's leather cover.
A baseball cover is sewn using a specialized technique called the baseball stitch, also known as the double figure-eight stitch. This stitch is incredibly strong and durable, able to withstand the intense grip and impact of the game.
Some manufacturers use machines to assist with the baseball stitching process, but high-quality baseballs are still primarily hand-stitched. The number of stitches can vary slightly depending on the manufacturer and ball type, but 108 is the standard. The baseball stitch is not only used for baseballs but also for other sporting goods like softballs and cricket balls.
So, the next time you pick up a baseball, take a moment to appreciate the intricate craftsmanship of the stitching. It's a small detail that makes a big difference in the game!