8 Best T-ball Baseballs in 2020 [Buying Guide]

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Baseballs used by older kids in the youth baseball leagues (as well as high school) are almost rock hard and can pose a serious injury risk to young players.

To reduce and hopefully minimize the injury risk, younger players should play with softer baseballs.

There are tons of baseballs specifically designed for tee ball players but unfortunately, there are lots of confusing marketing materials with technical jargon.

This in-depth guide will cut through all those confusions so that you can buy the right kind of t-balls for your child.

 

Table of Contents

What is a T-ball (a.k.a. tee ball)?

99baseballs-youth-baseballs-for-t-ball-players-what-is-t-ball-flAfter having fun tossing the cushy balls around, next step in your child’s baseball “career” is to play in a Tee ball division in your local league.

It’s a cool experience to see the excitement on your child’s face when they first step on to a baseball field so you want to do everything you can to ensure that they continue to have fun.

Tee ball baseball is offered to both boys and girls. There are very few leagues offering a “tee softball” division.

Because kids in this age group are still developing their motor controls, it is important to provide a safe learning environment where they can experiment and learn how to catch, throw and hit baseballs without risking serious injury.

A T-ball is typically used for players who are 5 to 7 years old who are just starting to play “real” baseball on a baseball field.

Please keep in mind that these tee baseballs have the same dimension (9″ circumference) and approximately the same weight (5 oz) as professional-grade baseballs but are much, much softer.

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Anatomy of Baseballs used in a T-ball League

99baseballs-youth-types-of-baseballs-t-balls-rawlings-tvb-flUnlike baseballs for older players, a baseball for T-ball players usually comes in a single core, materials consisting of low to medium density combination of rubber and sponge.

The cover is usually synthetic, made from a thin layer of soft vinyl with cloth backing. Major baseball brands like Rawlings and Wilson use synthetic covers.

You can read more about the anatomy of a regular baseball here

These synthetic covers tend to not as durable as so some manufacturers may use Vytan (higher grade, thicker synthetic material) or genuine leather.

Just keep in mind that having a more durable cover means that they tend to be firmer so make sure your player is ready to make that catch!

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Reduced Injury Force (RIF) or SEV Index Level Baseballs

99baseballs-youth-types-of-baseballs-t-ball-vs-sev-index-level-1-baseball-v2-flWe explained in depth of RIF and SEV Index ratings in this post.

For example, MacGregor produces both Tee Ball (Model MCB56TBX) and SEV INDEX Level 1 baseball (Model MCB5SV01) which look identical.

But in reality, SEV INDEX Level 1 baseball is MUCH FIRMER and it comes with a thicker genuine leather.

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Review of Tee Baseballs for Tball Players

So what is the age appropriate tee baseball should you buy for your child?

Having used many of t-ball brands in the post, I can tell you that most are good but there are some key subtle differences to keep in mind.

I will do my best to explain these differences in my reviews below and make a final recommendation (or if you are in a hurry, skip to the end by clicking here).

Adidas / Dicks Sporting Goods T-ball Baseball

For over 8+ years, Dicks Sporting Goods (DSG) used to license Adidas brand from Adidas to manufacture and sell co-branded Adidas/DSG tee baseballs. DSG is still producing tee baseballs but without the Adidas logo.

DSG T-ball baseballs (SKU 17057319) are constructed with synthetic cover and come with a rubber sponge center.

SPECIFICATIONS

  • Model – Generic Official League (17057319)
  • Weight – ~ 4.8 ounces
  • Circumference– ~ 8.75 inches
  • Core – Sponge rubber mix
  • Cost – Relatively inexpensive at $30 per dozen (check out the latest price here))
PROS
  • Lightweight wi\hen compared to other brands
  • Smaller circumference which mau actually benefit young players with small hands
  • Good durability with synthetic cover with cloth backing
  • Resists shrinkage and wrinkle
  • Water-resistant
  • Cost-effective at $2.50 per ball

CONS

  • Flat seam does not provide the same feel as raised seams (raised seams prvide better control for small hands)
  • Synthetic cover does a good job of preventing liquid penetration to sponge core but once water is inside, it takes a long time to dry out

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Baden Tee-baseballs

baden-tee-baseball-v1-sm-flFounded in 1979 in Renton, Washington, Baden is not quite as recognizable as some other national brands but they do make good sports products.

Like other tee baseballs, Baden tee baseballs (model SAF-BST-02) feel nice with leather-like synthetic cover with slightly raised seams.

Unfortunately, some of their tee baseballs seem to lose shape and crack quite easily after couple of months of use.

SPECIFICATIONS

  • Model – Generic Official League (SAF-BST-02)
  • Weight – 5 ounces
  • Circumference– 9 inches
  • Core – Sponge rubber mix
  • Cost – Relatively inexpensive at $25 per dozen (check out the latest price here))

 

PROS
  • Light weight with each ball on average weighing at 4.8 ounces (regulation weight is 5 oz.)
  • Ball circumference is around 8.95 inches (regulation circumference is 9″)
  • Raised seams
  • Resists shrinkage and wrinkle
  • Water-resistant
  • Cost-effective at $2.08 per ball

CONS

  • Synthetic cover seems to not last after couple months of use
  • Sponge rubber core seems to be stiffer than others

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Diamond T-ball baseballs

99baseballs-tee-baseball-reviews-diamond-dfx-lc1-sm-flDiamond Sports have been providing quality baseballs for older players for many years.

Diamond calls their t-balls “Tee Ball Low Compression FlexiBall Tee balls” (Model DFX-LC1) which comes with higher-grade (thicker) synthetic covers.

Unfortunately, the quality feel of the cover is negated by it’s tendency for poor seams and stitching. Out of dozen or so baseballs, I found 4 balls with a raised or lumpy seams which leads me to believe that there were extra threads beneath the surface.

Not sure if this was just a random thing but I do want to reiterate that Diamond Sports continues to provide lots of baseballs to older leagues so I may have been just unlucky.

SPECIFICATIONS

  • Model – Generic Official League (DFX-LC1), Little League (DFX-LC1 LL), PONY (DFX-LC1 PO)
  • Weight – ~ 4.8 ounces
  • Circumference– 9 inches
  • Core – “FlexiBall” sponge rubber mix
  • Cost – Slightly more expensive than others at $38 per dozen (check out the latest price here)

 

PROS
  • Quality synthetic cover
  • Resists cracking and is very durable
  • Water-resistant

CONS

  • Poor seams and/or stitchings (may have been a random event)
  • At $3.17 per ball, it is slightly more expensive than others

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Franklin teeballs

franklin-tee-baseball-v1-sm-flFranklin Sports has been a family owned company since 1946.

Unlike other competitors, Franklin uses a hollow rubber core which provides softer impact that makes the ball safe and easy to use for younger players.

The cover is made from Syntex Synthetic cover with double-stitched seams for extra durability.

Unfortunately, the downside of this hollow core technology is the ball itself is quite light, weighing in at 4 ounces.

SPECIFICATIONS

  • Model – Soft Strike (Item #23313)
  • Weight – ~ 4 ounces
  • Circumference– 9 inches
  • Core – “FlexiBall” sponge (hollow) core
  • Cost – These tee balls come in a package containing 6 baseballs at $17 (or buy two packages for a dozen baseballs for $34). You can (check out the latest price here)
PROS
  • Consistent ball circumference at 9 inches
  • Hollow core provides extra margin of safety when hit by a batted ball
  • Double stitched seams for durability
  • Resists shrinkage and wrinkle
  • Water-resistant
  • Reasonably priced at $2.83 per baseball.

CONS

  • Ball is significantly lighter at 4 ounces per ball
  • Synthetic cover tends to be waxy or slick even after multiple use
  • Sponge rubber core seems to be stiffer than others

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MacGregor tee baseballs

macgregor-mcb56tbx-tee-baseball-v1-sm-flLike other tee baseballs, Baden tee baseballs (model SAF-BST-02) feel nice with leather-like synthetic cover with slightly raised seams.

Unfortunately, some of their tee baseballs seem to lose shape and crack quite easily after couple of months of use.

They are inexpensive at $25 per dozen (check out the latest price here)

PROS
  • Light weight with each ball on average weighing at 4.8 ounces (regulation weight is 5 oz.)
  • Ball circumference is around 8.95 inches (regulation circumference is 9″)
  • Raised seams
  • Resists shrinkage and wrinkle
  • Water-resistant
  • Cost-effective at $2.08 per ball

CONS

  • Synthetic cover seems to not last after couple months of use
  • Sponge rubber core seems to be stiffer than others

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Rawlings tee baseballs

rawlings-tvb-tee-baseball-v1-sm-flLike other tee baseballs, Baden tee baseballs (model SAF-BST-02) feel nice with leather-like synthetic cover with slightly raised seams.

Unfortunately, some of their tee baseballs seem to lose shape and crack quite easily after couple of months of use.

They are inexpensive at $25 per dozen (check out the latest price here)

PROS
  • Light weight with each ball on average weighing at 4.8 ounces (regulation weight is 5 oz.)
  • Ball circumference is around 8.95 inches (regulation circumference is 9″)
  • Raised seams
  • Resists shrinkage and wrinkle
  • Water-resistant
  • Cost-effective at $2.08 per ball

CONS

  • Synthetic cover seems to not last after couple months of use
  • Sponge rubber core seems to be stiffer than others

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Spalding tee baseballs

spalding-tee-baseball-v1-sm-flLike other tee baseballs, Baden tee baseballs (model SAF-BST-02) feel nice with leather-like synthetic cover with slightly raised seams.

Unfortunately, some of their tee baseballs seem to lose shape and crack quite easily after couple of months of use.

They are inexpensive at $25 per dozen (check out the latest price here)

PROS
  • Light weight with each ball on average weighing at 4.8 ounces (regulation weight is 5 oz.)
  • Ball circumference is around 8.95 inches (regulation circumference is 9″)
  • Raised seams
  • Resists shrinkage and wrinkle
  • Water-resistant
  • Cost-effective at $2.08 per ball

CONS

  • Synthetic cover seems to not last after couple months of use
  • Sponge rubber core seems to be stiffer than others

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Wilson tee baseballs

wilson-tee-baseball-v1-sm-flLike other tee baseballs, Baden tee baseballs (model SAF-BST-02) feel nice with leather-like synthetic cover with slightly raised seams.

Unfortunately, some of their tee baseballs seem to lose shape and crack quite easily after couple of months of use.

They are inexpensive at $25 per dozen (check out the latest price here)

PROS
  • Light weight with each ball on average weighing at 4.8 ounces (regulation weight is 5 oz.)
  • Ball circumference is around 8.95 inches (regulation circumference is 9″)
  • Raised seams
  • Resists shrinkage and wrinkle
  • Water-resistant
  • Cost-effective at $2.08 per ball

CONS

  • Synthetic cover seems to not last after couple months of use
  • Sponge rubber core seems to be stiffer than others

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Easton IncrediBall SoftStitch Baseballs

Easton’s SoftStitch IncrediBall baseball is technically NOT a tee baseball.

But this is a good option to consider if you feel that your child is not quite good at catching fly balls yet.

easton-softstitch-incrediball-v1-sm-flEaston IncrediBall SoftStitch baseballs come in two flavors: Fabric or synthetic cover.

The fabric version, Easton IncrediBall SoftStitch Model A122006BS, comes in a cordura-type of durable polyester fabric with polyurethane safety core. But unlike a RagBall, this ball provides more realistc and livelier bounce.

More importantly, if your child misses the ball, an Incrediball will land with a softer “dud” without the “I-am-going-to-cry sting” that comes from synthetic covered tee baseballs.

Ironically, SoftStitch IncrediBall also comes with a version that has a synthetic cover, Easton IncrediBall SoftStitch Model BBTS9W.

The “faux leather” on this version comes with the soft, polyurethane safety core.

The only downside to these IncrediBalls is that they are rather expensive.

A dozen of fabric covered SoftStitch baseballs can go for around $50-80, but if you are concerned about your child’s inability to catch routine balls, buying these baseballs will provide you with some added peace of mind.

PROS
  • Light weight with each ball on average weighing at 4.8 ounces (regulation weight is 5 oz.)
  • Very forgiving cloth-like surface, allowing maximum deflection to reduce stinging
  • Raised seams
  • Easy to dry

CONS

  • Not water-resistant
  • Will shrink if repeatedly dried after being wet
  • Fabric cover will wear off quickly when used on paved surfaces



 

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Recommendations

First, I would recommend that you only use t-balls for kids this age, and not use any RIF or SEV INDEX rated training baseballs.

It is just not fun for your child (or you) to see him or her miss a catch, get bonked in the head and cry.

99baseballs-youth-baseballs-types-tee-baseball-rawlings-tvb-fl
Havings said that, out of all these t-balls I have reviewed (and used in the past), I highly recommend the Rawlings TVB t-balls for several reasons:

  1. With covers removed, I did an un-scientific test of thumb-pressing each rubber sponge core and determined that Rawlings TVB to have the softest core
  2. Synthetic cover is very durable. Again unscientifically speaking, out of all tee baseballs I have used during past 10 years, not a single Rawlings TVB covers ever cracked on me
  3. The size and weight of Rawlings TVB baseballs were remarkably consistent (9″ circumference, 5 oz weight)
  4. Kids simply dig using the “same baseball” as the big league players!


The honorable mention goes to Easton’s SoftStitch IncrediBalls (fabric version) with it’s forgiving nature when hit.

Either options are great for your t-ballers as well as for older kids practicing inside dueing bad weather days (most school gyms do not allow you to use hard baseballs).

I hope this review has been helpful to you. If you have any comments or more recommendations, please don’t forget to leave a comment below!

Kevin

 

Frequently Asked Questions

Below is a list of some common questions that have been asked over the years regarding tee balls. You may also want to read my “>FAQ section in this post.

 

What kinds of balls do they use for T ball?

Generally speaking, either a sponge rubber or hollow rubber core is best suited for very young T-ball players.

There are confusing certifications like RIF and SEV INDEX which might be advocated as being good Tballs when infact they are not.

The best ones to consider are the ones I reviewed in this post.

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Are T Balls the same as regular baseballs?

Regular baseballs are VERY HARD when compared to T-balls which contain very forgiving sponge rubber cores.

When you suqeeze down a T-ball with your thumb, it should have some give. In contrast, regular baseballs do not indent like T-balls.

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Can T-balls be used for older players?

Obviously you cannot use these tee baseballs for games with older players but hold onto these T-balls!

Even after your child is no longer in a Tball league, these soft balls are excellent for indoor training for older players as most school gyms do not allow you to throw or bat regular baseballs.

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2 thoughts on “8 Best T-ball Baseballs in 2020 [Buying Guide]”

  1. Thanks for the review. A dozen Rawlings cost $41 on Amazon. You listed quite a few that were $25 a dozen. Of the $25 per dozen which would you select? Thanks

    Reply
    • Hey Brett,

      How old is your son or daughter?

      If they are just starting out, can’t go wrong with the Franklin Soft-Strike T-ball. I think they are on sale now for $16/6 balls.

      Baden t-balls are perfectly acceptable too ($27/dozen) —link here

      Just keep in mind that due to supply chain issues, you may not get the brand/quantity you want as you get closer to April…

      Reply

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