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How Many Baseballs Are Used in an MLB Game?

how many baseballs are used in a mlb game

When attending a Major League Baseball (MLB) game, have you ever wondered how many baseballs are used throughout the nine innings? A fresh ball is crucial for fair play and player safety. This comprehensive analysis explores the average number of baseballs used in an MLB game, the factors contributing to their usage, the role of umpires, historical changes, and the economic impact on teams and the league.

Section 1: Average Number of Baseballs Per Game

On average, an MLB game uses about 120 baseballs. This might sound excessive, but considering the game’s pace and intensity is understandable. Each pitch, swing, and foul ball contributes to the inevitable wear and tear, necessitating frequent ball replacements to ensure the integrity of play.

Section 2: Factors Influencing Ball Usage

Several factors contribute to the high number of baseballs used in a game:

  • Wear and Tear: Every hit, throw, and foul ball affects the ball’s condition, making it unsuitable for continued play.
  • Foul Balls: These are often hit out of play, requiring immediate replacements.
  • Home Runs: Balls that leave the park are not recovered for gameplay.
  • Pitcher Preferences: Some pitchers prefer a specific feel to the baseball, leading to frequent changes.
  • Umpire Decisions: Umpires may replace balls that appear scuffed, dirty, or damaged.

Section 3: Role of Umpires and Balls

Umpires play a critical role in maintaining the quality of baseball used during a game. They inspect and replace balls as needed to ensure fair play. The home plate umpire carries a supply of baseballs, and ball boys or girls supply additional balls throughout the game. This continuous process is crucial for maintaining the game’s pace and safety.

Section 4: Historical Changes in Ball Usage

Historically, the number of baseballs used per game has increased. In the early days of baseball, it was common to use a single ball for an entire game. However, as the sport evolved, the need for more frequent ball changes became apparent. Advances in manufacturing, increased awareness of player safety, and changes in game dynamics have all influenced this shift.

Section 5: Economic Impact on Teams and League

The high turnover of baseball has an economic impact on both teams and the league. Each MLB team spends an estimated $10,000 per season on baseball alone. While this is a significant expense, it’s a necessary investment to maintain the quality and fairness of the game. MLB, in turn, benefits from partnerships with manufacturers, ensuring a steady supply of high-quality baseballs.

Section 6: Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Here are some frequently asked questions about the usage of baseball in MLB games.

Q: Why are so many baseballs used in a game?  

A: The primary reasons include wear and tear, foul balls, home runs, and pitcher preferences. Each factor necessitates frequent ball replacements to maintain fair play and ensure player safety.

Q: What happens to the baseballs that are taken out of play?  

A: Baseballs taken out of play may be used for batting practice, autographed for fans, or sold as memorabilia. Some may also be donated to youth baseball programs.

Q: How do umpires decide when to replace a ball?  

A: Umpires replace balls that become scuffed, dirty, or damaged during play. They ensure each ball is in optimal condition to maintain the integrity of the game.

Q: Has the number of baseballs used in a game always been this high?  

A: No, the number of baseballs used has increased over time. In the early days of baseball, a single ball might be used for an entire game. Changes in manufacturing, player safety awareness, and game dynamics have led to more frequent ball replacements.

Q: How much do MLB teams spend on baseball each season?  

A: Each MLB team spends an estimated $10,000 per season on baseball. This expense, despite seeming significant, is necessary to ensure the quality and fairness of the game.

Q: Do all pitchers have the same preference for baseball?  

A: No, different pitchers may have different preferences regarding the feel and condition of the baseball. Some might request more frequent changes to find a ball that suits their grip and pitching style.


In summary, the average MLB game uses around 120 baseballs, driven by wear and tear, foul balls, and umpire decisions. This practice has evolved, reflecting changes in the sport and advancements in equipment. The economic impact on teams and the league underscores the importance of maintaining a consistent supply of new baseballs.

Fun Fact: Did you know that each baseball used in an MLB game is rubbed with a particular type of mud from the Delaware River to improve grip and control?

Next time you’re at a game, take a moment to appreciate the intricate system that keeps the balls in play and the game running smoothly.

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