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Different Types of Baseballs for Different Ages

  • Although most baseballs look and feel exactly alike, there are significant differences between them to warrant a closer look
  • I originally wrote this post back in 2019 when there was no guide to help youth leagues, school teams, recreation and travel leagues, as well as parents to purchase age appropriate baseballs.
  • Since then, many sites came along with their AI-generated content with inaccurate information.
  • This in-depth guide is designed to help you understand the key differences in baseballs so that you can make the right purchase decision for your child or team.
  • As of February 2024, I have added new baseball models and updated older baseballs that you may find at a local baseball field.
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Intro

Choosing the right baseball for a player’s age group is one of the critical factors in their development and safety. From the little ones starting their baseball journey to the older players aiming for the Major Leagues, the size, weight, and hardness of the baseball they use will significantly impact their ability to learn, enjoy, and excel in baseball.

In this post, we’ll delve into the different types of baseballs designed for various age groups and guide you through the features of these baseballs, their intended age groups, and how they contribute to the player’s skill progression.

This comprehensive guide aims to simplify the process of choosing age-appropriate baseballs, ensuring that every swing, every pitch, and every catch contributes to a player’s growth in baseball. Whether you’re a coach, a parent, or a player, understanding this aspect of the sport is a step towards a safer and more fulfilling baseball experience.

Table of Contents

What is the big deal about a baseball?

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At young age, it is very important to emphasize having fun playing baseball.

There are three primary activities involving baseball: throwing, fielding and hitting.

From the Official Baseball Rules 1.09
The Ball should be a sphere formed by yarn wound around a small sphere of cork, rubber, or similar material covered with two stripes of white horsehid or cowhide, tightly stitched together. It shall weight not less than 5 nor more than 5 1/4 ounces avoirdupuois and measure no less than 9 or more than 9 1/4 inches in circumference.

The cork nucleus, enclosed in rubber, is wound with 121 yards of blue-gray wool yarn, 45 yards of white wool yarn, and 150 yards of fine cotton yarn. Core and winding are enclosed by rubber cement and a two piece cowhide (horsehide before 1974) cover hand-stitched together with just 216 raised red cotton (single) stitches or 108 double stitches.

Buying hard baseballs intended for older kids may cause unnecessary pain (i.e. stinging hands when batting a ball in the wrong spot), causing kids to lose interest.

In most cases, once a child gets injured playeing baseball, it is an uphill climb to get hhim or her to be interested in baseball again.

As someone who has coached young kids for many years, I have seen quite a bit of “early retirements” so don’t just pick up some random baseball that is on sale but buy age appropriate baseballs.

Starting January 1, 2020, all baseballs for high school competitions must be stamped with both NOCSAE and NFHS logos. The NOCSAE Baseball Standard (# ND027) establishes performance requirements in the weight, compression deflection load, circumference, and coefficient of restitution for new baseballs as supplied by manufacturers (you can read more about NOCSAE requirements below in our FAQ section

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Making a Baseball

Modern baseball evolved from the English game of “rounders” in the first half of the 19th century.

In 1845, Alexander Cartwright of New York formulated the basic rules of baseball, which called for the replacement of the soft ball used in rounders with a smaller hard ball.

Baseballs used in Japan
In 1872, an American professor Horace Wilson introduced baseball to his students at Kaisei School in Tokyo.

Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB) league, equivalent to MLB, uses a slightly smaller and better quality leather made by Mizuno. To find out more, read the “Comparing Baseballs Used in NPB vs MLB” post.

Despite its uncomplicated appearance, the baseball is in fact a precision-made object.

Today, Rawlings (founded in 1887) has had an exclusive contract to supply the major leagues with baseballs since 1977.

The majority of Rawlings baseballs are made in the Costa Rica plant which makes about 900,000 baseballs a year (Rawlings China plants make 2 million + baseballs per year and the average baseball remains in play for only five to seven pitches in a Major League game!).

Overall Rawlings supplies about 1.8 million of them to the major and minor league teams.  The remaining baseballs are sold to the public.

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Anatomy of a Baseball

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In this section, we will review the components that go into making a baseball.

Quick Overview

An official MLB baseball consists of a round cushioned cork center called a “pill,” wrapped tightly in windings of wool and polyester/cotton yarn, and covered by stitched cowhide.

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Each ball must weigh between 5 and 5.25 ounces (141.75-148.83 grams) and measure between 9 and 9.25 inches (22.86-23.49 centimeters) in circumference to conform to Major League standards.

All youth baseballs follow the same guideline, EXCEPT for very young players (i.e. 8 years or younger). For these players, most rec leagues use safety balls which are softer.

Core or “Pill”

At the center of a baseball is the core or “pill” which consists or premium cork, rubber or some combination of both (any training baseballs rated with SEV INDEX levels or RIF do not have this cork center).

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There are two distinct types of pills:

  • Cork and Rubber
  • Cushioned Cork

Cork and Rubber

Cork and Rubber pill is a black, solid ball that has rubber and bits of cork mixed together then wrapped with wool.

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How can you tell if a baseball has Cork and Rubber pill? Usually, all baseballs come with a stamped label that indicates the type of pill.

In our case, the label should state “Cork and Rubber”.

Another method to tell the difference between baseball pill types is the model number of a particular baseball brand.

If the model number come with a number 1 or 2, they will most likely have these cork and rubber pills.

Cushioned Cork

Cushioned cork pills are characterized by red or orange outer colors.

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A small piece of cork in a ball shape is encased in two, half round outer shells (black rubber) saled with a red rubber gasket (this is done to ensure proper adhesive application).

Then a layer of red (or orange) rubber is molded to the black rubber encasement.

The entire assembly of “pill” is a perfect circle weighing approximately 7/8 ounces (24.80 grams) with a circumference of roughly 4 1/8 inches (10.48 centimeters).

Once the pill has been molded, a bunch of pills are dumped into a spinning drum where a thin layer of cement is applied to its surface via drum. This glue keeps the wool yarn in place on the pill at the start of the first winding operation.

Cork and Rubber Pill vs Cushioned Cork Pill

There have been many research papers written to indicate that baseballs with cushioned cork are superior to cork and rubber pills, in terms of ball behavior and travel velocity.

Comparing Baseball Pill Sizes

In addition, a baseball with a cushioned cork seems to preserve its shape better than a baseball with cork and rubber pill.

The downside is that a cushioned cork is more expensive than a cork and rubber pill.

For example, Diamond DOL-A (cushioned cork) runs about $57 per dozen where Diamond DOL-1 (cork and rubber) costs about $50 per dozen.

All professional grade MLB and MiLB baseballs, as well as most college baseballs, are made with cushioned cork.

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Windings

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A baseball’s “windings” refers to the thick layers of wool yarn that surround the pill.

There are four distinct layers of wool and poly/cotton windings that surround the cushioned cork pill in concentric circles of varying thickness:

The first winding is made of four-ply gray woolen yarn which is by far the thickest. When wrapped tightly around the pill, it brings the circumference of the unfinished ball to 7-3/4 inches (19.68 centimeters).

The second winding of three-ply white woolen yarn increases to 8-3/16 inches (20.77 centimeters)

The third winding of three-ply gray woolen yarn increases the circumferences to 8-3/4 inches (22.22 centimeters).

The fourth winding of white poly/cotton finishing yarn increases the circumferences to 9 inches (22.52 centimeters).

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Wool was selected as the primary material for the baseball’s windings because its natural resiliency and “memory” allow it to compress when pressure is applied, then rapidly return to its original shape.

This property makes it possible for the baseball to retain its perfect roundness despite being hit repeatedly during a game.

A poly/cotton blend was selected for the outer winding to provide added strength and reduce the risk of tears when the ball’s cowhide cover is applied.

Please note that less expensive baseballs may use less expensive wool blend or have no windings at all; instead, these low quality baseballs may feature a rubber center surrounded by a solid composite material.

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Materials Used for Baseball Covers

When purchasing baseballs, you will find two distinct exterior materials used as baseball covers:

  • Genuine Leather
  • Synthetic Leather
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Horsehide vs Cowhide

Prior to 1974, horsehide was used exclusively to make baseball leather covers. Starting in 1974, cowhide has been used to manufacture Rawlings MLB game balls due to the shortage in horsehide.

Horsehide has high tensile strength than cowhide so it is more durable and less likely to crack and to boot, it is cheaper.

However, you can’t play baseball games without baseballs so MLB stuck with cowhide. Cowhide is more expensive but they were plentiful so Rawlings can afford to be choosy to maintain high quality standards.

The downside to cowhide is that it tends to be slicker than horsehide so in Japan, pitchers to favor horsehide baseballs made by Mizuno / SSK.

Genuine Leather vs Full-Grain Leather vs Premium Leather

Generally speaking, the leather industry classifies five types of leather grades: bonded, genuine leather, split-grain leather, full-grain leather, and top-grain leather.

Regardless of the type, a genuine leather cover is long-lasting and are the traditional choice for many youth baseball teams due to better grip and proven durability.

The least expensive baseballs from natural leather will be made from genuine leather (bonded leather has synthetic backing cloth).

Full-grain leather and premium leather are the same, which is the outermost layer of the hide that is considered to be most durable and breathable (less tendency to hold moisture or sweat).

The stamp on baseballs will be marked with “Genuine Leather”, “Full Grain Leather”, or “Premium Leather”.

Unfortunately, genuine leather comes with varying thickness and quality so the obvious difference between a high quality genuine leather baseball vs. a lower quality leather is the price.

Synthetic leather covers are made from various vinyl and vinyl-like materials. It can be confusingly referred to as Vyntan, synthetic leather, soft leather, etc. It resists dirt and does not absorb water as much as leather.

Most, if not all, game baseballs have genuine leather cover; synthetic baseballs are usually relegated to practice (they are great for practice after rain because they do not absorb water as quickly as the genuine leather cover baseballs.

If you are interested in tooling around with replacing baseball covers, check out this cool video!

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Update – February 20, 2023

I just found a site that sells the leather baseball kit! You just need to supply a baseball.

Buffalo Bill Fold Company – Made in USA (not an affiliate link)

I will be making one myself and post about it later.

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Stitching

All baseballs comes with 108 double stitches to hold the baseball cover together. Most stitching threads are classic red, though different colors can be used.

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Flat seam vs Raised seam – click to enlarge

The iconic seams, or stitching, come in three types: flat, rolled or raised.

The raised seams are used primarily for beginners. The ball will grip the air better and make for easier control.

The MLB uses a rolled seam which allows faster throwing due to the reduced air friction.

The flat seams, which work as you would expect, are not great for any flashy pitches, but work perfectly for batting practice as they are most commonly found in pitching machines (should only use genuine leather covered baseballs).

If you want to learn about the baseball stitches in detail, please read my Baseball Stitches Explained in Detail post.

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Six Types of Baseballs

Before we dive into brand specific baseballs, we need to be aware of six primary categories of baseball types:

Safety Baseballs

Safety baseballs are designed for very young players from age 3 to 5 in starter leagues such as tee ball league.

They are noticeably soft on the surface compared to other types of balls and are lighter.

Safety baseballs are inexpensive and usually built entirely of man-made (synthetic) materials. They are designed for small lightweight aluminum bats.

Reduced Injury Factor (RIF) Baseballs and SEV INDEX Level baseballs

Reduced Injury Factor (RIF) baseballs are higher performance than safety baseballs.

RIF baseballs have a poly mixture core and so they are softer than a regular youth hardball, reducing the risk of injury.

RIF baseballs are available for different age levels, and are often used for practice.

The term RIF is also interchangeable with SEV Index Levels (see below).

What is a SEV INDEX Level?

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SEV INDEX is short for SEVerity Index which measures the baseball impact force exerted on the body.

It was created by MacGregor so this rating convention is mostly used by MacGregor.

For example, MacGregor SEV INDEX Level 5 baseballs (Model MCB5SV05) may be indicated by other brands the following way:

However, please do note that SEV INDEX Levels are sometimes used interchangeably with Reduced Injury Factor (RIF) rating.

For example, you may see MacGregor SEV INDEX Level 1 – Model MCB5SV01 referred to as MacGregor RIF-5 baseballs.

There are three distinct levels of SEV INDEX Levels assigned to three age brackets.

  • SEV INDEX Level 1 Baseballs
    • The softest baseball out of three baseballs, SEV INDEX Level 1 baseballs are recommended for Ages 5 through 7 (but primarily used by 6 year olds just after Tee ball division)
    • Unlike Tee balls like MacGregor #56 Official Tee Balls or Rawlings Youth Tball Model TVB, DEV INDEX Level 1 baseballs are firmer but still provides plenty of deflections to reduce the sting when hit
    • SEV INDEX Level 1 baseballs like MacGregor MCB5SV01 come with genuine leather cover which provides better grip (especially for small hands)
    • SEV INDEX Level 1 baseballs also tend to come with raised seams for better throwing control
  • SEV INDEX Level 5 Baseballs
    • The middle model out of three SEV INDEX baseballs, it is designed for Ages 8 through 12 but in most leagues, these baseballs are used by 7 year olds (Farm AA in Cal Ripken or Minors in Little League
    • These baseballs are noticeably firmer than SEV INDEX Level 1 baseballs so getting hit will definitely sting
    • A good example a baseball in this category would be MacGregor Model MCB5SV05
  • SEV INDEX Level 10
    • Geared towards Ages 12 and older, by all appearances, these baseballs are virtually indistinguishable from high school or college level baseballs
    • MacGregor’s Model MCB5SV10 baseball still features a Tri-Flex core technology so it will reduce the exit speed from a bat (i.e. baseball will not travel as far as a high school or college baseball)

For more information, please read the Complete Guide to Reduced Injury Factor (RIF) and Severity (SEV) Index Baseballs for Safety post.

Youth Tournament Baseballs

Youth league baseballs have a cushioned cork center and are wound less tightly than balls designed for adult play, but they’re not soft.

Youth league balls are designed for experienced baseball players from 8 to 14 and are used in Little League tournament play.

A youth tournament ball may have a leather cover and wool windings on the inside. These baseballs are designed for youth-sized aluminum bats.

High-School and College Baseballs

Baseballs used at the high-school and college level are similar to professional-grade baseballs, but have a slightly lighter density and are designed for aluminum bats, not wood.

They are usually made with a cork core, wool windings and leather or high-quality synthetic cover.

Professional-grade Baseballs

Major League Baseball (MLB) teams use the highest quality baseballs (i.e. best high-grade leather cover and rolled seams) followed by lower quality baseballs for the Minor League Baseball (MiLB) teams.

Why?  Because MLB players are all playing at the highest skill level (one level).

MiLB on the other hand has six different talent levels (AAA teams all the way down to Rookie) and has 20 leagues and 246 teams.

In 2019, MiLB players at the Triple A level started using the same game balls as used in MLB games.

Practice Baseballs

Youth players at all levels may use inexpensive, practice baseballs made with lower-quality materials.

Though they are lower in performance, these balls can be cheaply replaced if lost or worn out.

Synthetic baseballs make up for the bulk of practice balls which are excellent for practice after rain.

Just keep in mind that due to lower quality of materials, these baseballs tend to lose their shape.

Lastly, please do not use synthetic covered baseballs for your pitching machine as synthetic materials will gum up the pitching machine wheel(s).

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What does “Official League Baseball” mean?

An “official league baseball” refers to a baseball that meets the specific standards set by a particular league or governing body. These standards typically define the size, weight, materials, construction, and performance characteristics of the baseball. The baseball used must meet these specifications during official games and tournaments sanctioned by that league.

For example, Major League Baseball (MLB) in the United States has specific requirements for the baseballs used in its games.

Rule 1.09

The ball shall be a sphere formed by yarn wound around a small core of cork, rubber or similar material, covered with two strips of white horsehide or cowhide, tightly stitched together. 

It shall weigh not less than five nor more than 5¼ ounces avoirdupois and measure not less than nine nor more than 9¼ inches in circumference.

Although the official MLB game-ready baseballs are solely manufactured by Rawlings, other manufacturers stamp their baseballs with “Official League” to imply that they come with the same nine-inch circumference, weigh about five ounces.

Myth of Official League Baseballs
The confusing part is that not all components of a baseball are the same, even if the ball is stamped “Official League”.

MLB baseballs are made with a very specific cushioned cork center, wrapped in unique wool yarn, and covered with a full-grain leather cover along with 108 double stitches. Other brands with the “official league baseball” marking may not contain these components.

I suggest you read my posts, Reference Guide to All Diamond Baseballs, and Reference Guide to All Rawlings Baseballs for additional information specific baseball models.

On the other hand, other leagues, like Little League or various youth leagues, might have different specifications for their official baseballs, often designed to be safer and more suitable for younger players.

So, when you see a baseball labeled as an “official league baseball”, it means it meets the standards of the league mentioned and is approved for use in their official games.

Decoding Various Baseball Brands

There are many brands of baseballs available on the market with confusing model names and descriptions.

Before we get started with specific baseball types, I wanted to remind you of the following:

  • Diamond Sports owns the Diamond baseball brand. I wrote an extensive post about various Diamond baseballs so check it out (Reference Guide to All Diamond Baseballs)
  • Easton brand is now owned by Rawlings Sporting Goods
  • Fenway Partners owns many sporting goods manufacturers like Riddell Sports Group and Bell Sports
  • Fenway also owns BRG Sports (brgsports.com) which make equipment and clothing under the Riddell brand
  • BRG Sports owns MACMARK Corporation, which owns the trademark MacGregor or McGregor baseballs and other sports  equipment
  • Rawlings – MLB and Seidler Equity Partners (SEP) bought Rawlings from Newell Brands in June 2018 for $395 million. Rawlings is the exclusive baseball provider for all MLB games as well as MiLB AAA games.
Guide to Buying Baseballs
Once you are done reading, you will want to read my post, How to Buy Baseballs – Guide to Baseball Buying Secrets.

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Age Appropriate Baseballs

Now that you know more about baseballs than just about anyone else on your child’s team, let’s dive into brand specific baseballs that are available on the market.

Ages 1 through 4 (pre-kindergarten)

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There aren’t any specific youth baseballs suited for kids this age.

Toddlers at this stage have small hands so it’s better to buy some small soft balls like cushy balls to teach them proper throwing and catching techniques.

Remember, fear of catching is a learned response so using soft balls would encourage kids to try different ways of catching without worrying about getting hurt.

Around 4 years old, I would suggest buying a dozen IncrediBall soft stich “baseballs” to get them a good feel for the baseball. However, these are firmer version of cushy balls so she can’t really get hurt.

The most important thing to remember is that you do not want your kid to get hurt where she will be be turned off so take it easy and have fun!

Commonly Used Training Baseballs for 1-4 Year Old Players

All these training baseballs are excellent options for your young child but if I need to pick just one, I HIGHLY RECOMMEND the Easton INCREDIball for its feel and very little risk to injury.

Both my son and daughter learned to throw with it and I found it to be highly effective. Also, I would recommend getting more than one to minimize the time it takes to retrieve it after an errant throw. (checkout Easton INCREDIball pictures and prices here)

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Ages 4 through 5 (kindergarten)

Most commonly referred to as T-ball league, most players in this age bracket are pre-kindergarten or ion kindergarten.

Young players in this age bracket needs to build confidence as they practice catching and throwing with their small hands.

Commonly Used Baseballs for 4 to 5 Year Old Players

Most leagues (i.e. Babe Ruth/Cal Ripken, Little League, PONY, etc.) create a T-ball division for players in this age bracket.

Pre-Kindergarten Tee Ball (t ball) vs Kindergarten Tee Ball (t-ball)
Not all leagues offer a distinction between Pre-K tee ball regular tee ball. If your local league offers a pre-k t-ball, I would recommend that you use a softest possible t-ball for your young players.

For the latest product reviews and recommendations, I highly suggest that you read the What Kind of Balls Are Used in T-Ball League post.

It contains detailed information on eight most popular T-ball baseballs not found anywhere else.

Baseball brands like McGregor, Spalding and Wilson are league-specific but they all have the same common goal of reducing injury risk.

  • Baden T-Ball Safety Baseballs – sponge rubber core for softness; synthetic raised cover;
  • MacGregor (McGregor) MCB56TBX – rubber core to minimize speed coming off bats; comes with Vyntan synthetic leather cover;
  • Precision Impact Flex Ball – rubber core with polyurethane cover;
  • Rawlings Youth Tball TVB – sponge and rubber center; synthetic leather cover; conforms to official size and weight compared to standard baseballs;
  • Wilson A1217 Soft Compression Baseballs – sponge rubber center for softness; composite leather cover (not genuine leather)

Ages 5 through 6 (1st grade)

Players in this age bracket are referred to as Farm A (Cal Ripken), Minor (Little League), AA (Dixie) and Shetland (Pony).

Most common baseballs used at this level are:

Recommended baseball for first graders
I do like Rawlings ROTB5 but they seem to be slightly harder than the rest so I highly recommend MacGregor’s Model MCB5SV05 baseballs for its superior leather grip, high durability and raised seams.

Ages 7 through 8 (2nd grade)

Players in this age bracket are referred to as Farm AA (Cal Ripken), Minor (Little League), AA (Dixie) and Mustangs (Pony).

Baseballs at this begins to resemble very closely to professional grade baseballs (without the hard core/windings).

Also keep in mind that two different models from Rawlings is purely cosmetic (brand stamping).

Recommended baseball for second graders
I recommend MacGregor’s Model MCB5SV10baseballs due to it’s thicker leather cover which make baseballs more durable.

Ages 8 through 9 (3rd grade)

Players in this age bracket are referred to as Minors 46/60 (Cal Ripken), Minor/Major (Little League), AAA Minors (Dixie) and Broncos (Pony).

Recommended baseball for third graders++
Although my preference is MacGregor’s Model MCB74CAL baseballs due to it’s thick leather cover, Rawlings baseballs are just as good. You can’t go wrong with picking any one of these baseballs.

Ages 9 through 10 (4th grade)

Players in this age bracket are referred to as Minors 46/60 or Majors 50/70 (Cal Ripken), Major (Little League), AAA Minors (Dixie) and Broncos (Pony).

Baseballs used by these players are similar to those used for 8-9 year old players (see above).

Ages 10 through 11 (5th grade)

Players in this age bracket are referred to as Majors 50/70 (Cal Ripken), Major (Little League), AAA Minors or Majors (Dixie) and Pony (Pony).

Baseballs used by these players are similar to those used for 8-9 year old players (see above).

Ages 11 through 12 (6th grade)

Players in this age bracket are referred to as Majors 50/70 (Cal Ripken), Intermediate 50/70 (Little League), Majors (Dixie) and Pony (Pony).

Baseballs used by these players are similar to those used for 8-9 year old players (see above).

Ages 12 through 13 (7th grade)

Players in this age bracket start out playing at 12u in spring and transition into 13u in fall (if fall baseball is available).

As players hit the 13 year old ark, most leagues start to transition players onto “big” fields (a.k.a. 60/90 or MLB regulation sized fields).

Players in this age bracket are referred to as Pony (Cal Ripken), Junior (Little League), Majors (Dixie) and Pony (Pony).

Baseballs used by these older kids are almost as hard as the high school grade baseballs.

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Although my preference is MacGregor Model MCB74CXX baseballs but Rawlings Rawlings RSLL1 baseballs are just as good so you can’t go wrong with picking any one of these baseballs.

Ages 13 through 14 (8th grade)

Players in this age bracket are referred to as Pony or Seniors (Cal Ripken), Junior (Little League), Colts (Pony) and Junior (American Legion).

Baseballs are the same ones used for the 12-13 year old players.

FOR HIGH SCHOOL GAMES

Please note that as of 2022, NFHS has modified its rules to require that all game balls have the SEI/NOCSAE certification mark AND NFHS Authentication Mark.  If home or visiting teams are unable to provide baseballs meeting these two requirements, the home plate umpire may prevent the game from going forward (See NFHS 2022 Rules)

Ages 14 through 15 (9th grade)

Players in this age bracket are referred to as Seniors (Cal Ripken), Junior (Little League), Colts or Palominos (Pony) and Junior (American Legion).

Baseballs are the same ones used for the 12-13 year old players.

Ages 15 through 16 (10th grade)

Players in this age bracket are referred to as Seniors or babe Ruth (Cal Ripken), Junior or Senior (Little League) and Palominos (Pony).

Although my preference is MacGregor Model MCB74CXX baseballs but Rawlings Rawlings RBRO(1) Babe Ruth or Wilson Model RS A1082 baseballs are fine choices as well

^ Return to Table of Contents – Age Appropriate Baseballs

Ages 16 through 17 (11th grade)

Players in this age bracket are referred to as Babe Ruth (Cal Ripken), Senior (Little League), Palomino (Pony) and Junior (American Legion).

Most teams at this level use Diamond baseballs which are known for high quality leather and accurately shaped baseballs.

Ages 17 through 18 (12th grade)

Same baseballs are used as 11th graders.

^ Return to Table of Contents – Age Appropriate Baseballs

Frequently Asked Questions

Below is a list of some common questions that have been asked over the years.

What is NOCSAE?

The National Operating Committee on Standards for Athletic Equipment (NOCSAE) was formed in 1969 to decrease the number of severe head and cervical spine injuries by making equipment safer.

in conjunction with National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) requirements, most high school games must use baseballs that are stamped with NFHS and NOCSAE logos.

The purpose of the NFHS standardization is to promote a level playing field by ensuring consistency in the equipment used in NFHS-sanctioned school competitions.

What does “CROLB” stand for on a baseball?

CROLB is the designation used by Rawlings. “C” denotes split leather cover (not 100% leather), “R” denotes rec balls or for practice. OLB is an abbreviation for Official League Baseball.

What is the official baseball of Little League?

The Spalding Little League World Series Official RST Baseball is used during tournament play and in the Little League World Series in South Williamsport, Pennsylvania. This ball has a full grain leather cover, gray wool winding, and cushion cork center.

What size baseball is used in high school?

It is 9.00–9.25 inches (228.60–234.95 mm) in circumference, (2.86–2.94 in or 72.64–74.68 mm in diameter), and masses from 5.00 to 5.25 ounces (141.75 to 148.83 g). The yarn or string used to wrap the baseball can be up to one mile (1.6 km) in length.

What are olb3 baseballs?

Rawlings OLB3 Official League Baseball-Single. The Rawlings OLB3 Official League Baseball features a durable synthetic leather cover with Rawlings Major League Seams for a professional look and feel. The OLB3 Official League Baseball also features a solid cork and rubber center.

Do all baseballs have the same size?

Size: Baseballs vs. Softballs – Baseballs measure up to 9-1/4 inches in circumference, and weigh about 5-1/4 ounces. Unlike baseballs, which are all the same size regardless of league, softballs come is a variety of circumferences: 16-inch, 14-inch, 12-inch (standard), 11-inch, and 10-inch.

Are baseballs made by hand?

Yes, for the most part, baseballs are made by hand. Many have tried to automate the manufacturing process but failed. All MLB baseballs are made by Rawlings factory in Costa Rica. Approximately 900,000 baseballs are painstaking stitching by hand. The finished balls are boxed up and shipped to Miami

Why do they change balls in baseball?

Balls that come in contact with the infield dirt are immediately replaced either by the home plate umpire or pitcher.

This is lot different than it used to be decades ago because back then, pitchers always tried to keep scuffed up balls in play to gain pitch movement.

Today, many pitchers are power fastballs so they want the smoothest baseball covers for maximum speed.

In addition, MLB allows players to throw in game balls when the inning is over to “win over young fans”.

How much does the MLB pay for baseballs?

Approximately 900,000 baseballs used by MLB teams each year (this figure includes spring training games, practices, post-season games, etc.).

The average cost of a dozen baseballs is $85, MLB spends approximately $6.375 million every year.

The bright side spending all this money on baseballs is that MLB partially owns Rawlings, the official (and only) supplier of baseballs for MLB and MiLB (AAA teams).

What is the weight of a little league baseball?

The actual standard weight for a typical baseball is 5 ounces (or 141.75 grams). However, it can also weigh as much as 5 ¼ ounces (or 148.83 grams). The ball, which is currently machine-made, can also weigh anywhere between 5 ounces and 5 ¼ ounces.

How many baseballs are used in a MLB game?

  • On average, hosting MLB team prepares eight to ten dozen Rawlings baseballs before the game.
  • In a typical game, two teams will go through approximately 100 or so baseballs which means each game ball is used only for few pitches (pitched baseballs hitting the dirt are usually removed immediately.  This is done to prevent pitchers from gaining unfair advantage because scuffed up baseballs tend to have better grip and better pitch movement).
  • Since there are 30 teams playing each other in 162 games each, there are 2,430 games per season (two teams per game so we multiply 15 x 162 which equals 2,430).
  • If we assume 100 game balls per game, multiplying 2,430 games by 100  baseballs per game gives us 243,000 game baseballs used per regular season.
  • This number does not include spring training games, playoff games, minor league games or batting practice balls.

How many baseballs are prepared before a game?

  • At the MLB level, the home (hosting) team is responsible for providing balls ready for play.
99baseballs-youth-baseballs-types-lena-blackburne-mud2-fl
  • There is a special mud that is dug up from Delaware and sold under the brand Lena Backburne Rubbing Mud (read more bout it in detail at Wiki page here).
  • Team equipment staff are responsible for lightly rubbing Lena Blackburne Rubbing Mud to each baseballs (around 8-10 dozen baseballs).

Has an MLB game ever ran out of baseballs?

  • There was only one instance when a professional baseball game ran out of game balls. It happened on September 27, 1953 between Baltimore Orioles and Chicago White Sox. Baltimore was strapped for cash so they stopped buying baseballs. There wasn’t any game balls left when the final game (out of three games) went into extra innings. Chicago White Sox ended up providing some used practice balls to finish the game. The Orioles lost all three games.

Which baseballs do Minor League Baseball (MiLB) teams use?

99baseballs-youth-baseballs-types-milb-game-baseball-fl
  • Unlike MLB games where Rawlings is the only baseball used, minor league teams source their baseballs from multiple manufacturers (according to many minor league players, these balls have varying degrees of quality with larger seams and balls not travelling as far when hit).
  • This practice changed in 2019 when MLB and Minor League Baseball agreed that Triple-A minor league games will use the same Rawlings baseballs used by the MLB.
  • Lower MiLB (Double-A and below) minor league teams will continue to use a mixture of baseballs sourced by multiple vendors.

What are some differences between MLB and MiLB game baseballs?

  • Rawlings produces MLB game balls (ROMLB) at their Costa Rica plant that produces around 80,000 dozen baseballs or around 960,000 baseballs per year.  Costa Rica plant has the highest quality control with the use of highest grade leather and other materials.
  • Rawlings MiLB game balls are produced at their Chinese plants which produces over 2 million baseballs per year with varying degrees of quality.

Why are there 108 stitches on a baseball?

  • There are 108 double stitches on a baseball. The first and last stitches are completely hidden. They are sewn by hand, using 88 inches of waxed red thread per baseball. You can read more about in my post titled, Baseball Stitches – How Many Stitches Are there?

What kind of leather are baseballs made of?

  • There are two primary types of materials used as baseball covers: leather or synthetic.
  • An in-depth information was discussed in the above section here

What’s the average life of a baseball?

  • 90 new baseballs are required at the beginning of the game. Between 60 and 70 balls are used per game. The average life of a major league baseball is 6 pitches.
  • If you want to read more about why MLB goes through so many baseballs in a given game, please read the excellent article from Post-Gazette

What does MLB do with old baseballs?

  • New baseballs that have been prepared with Lena Blackburne Muds are simply saved for the next home game.
  • All baseballs taken out during the game are mostly used for batting practice.  Some teams sell slightly used game balls to their fans at their stadium but this practice is not widely held.
  • If a ball has a significant historical value, it may be send to team’s museum.

I have 2 dogs. Are any of these baseballs safe for my dogs to play with?

  • No, baseballs are not suitable to be used as dog toys.
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Carol

Friday 16th of February 2024

Hi Baseball Dad,

WoW, I had no idea how important a baseball could be until reading your very informed article so thank you.

However, I know nothing about baseballs at all. I pack shoe boxes for poor children that go all over the world ~ ages 5-9 and/or 10-14 years old.

I bought a dozen baseballs and the title was Hard Wood Core baseballs. They do not even bounce and I'm not sure if they are dangerous for children especially because I do not know if they even play baseball. I thought they could play catch but someone told me that they could get hurt with such a hard ball and they would need a glove to even play catch. Most likely, they would not have or be able to afford gloves. Would they be a danger for 10 to 14 year olds?? Could you recommend the right kind of ball that I could buy instead of the hard ball??

Any advice would be very appreciated.

Baseball Dad

Saturday 17th of February 2024

Hi Carol,

Can you tell me where you bought them from? Can you email me some pictures of it to kevin [at] 99baseballs [com]?

Traditional baseball "pills" are made with cork/rubber combination. I am not sure what you have is a baseball with a wood pill or the entire baseball is made from wood.

Baseballs made entirely from wood are meant for displays, not actual game play.

If you live in a US48 state, I may be able to send you a free box of baseballs so make sure to include your mailing address in your email.

Kevin

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Antonio Perrotta

Wednesday 31st of May 2023

Hello ! Great article and I learned a lot with it thank you very much !

I just bought a dozen Rawlings OLB3 solid cork and Rubber center baseballs, my intentions with these baseballs are to practice batting with my tee and to play recreationally with my friends, my questions is : we all play/practice with wooden bats, are these baseballs okay for the wood bats or they will break them faster than a cushioned cork baseball?

Thanks.

Baseball Dad

Thursday 1st of June 2023

Hi Antonio,

Thanks for your kind words. OLB3 baseballs are excellent for light rec game or practice. They can handle wood or metal bats without a problem.

If you hit like Aaron Judge, you may find that ball covers may detach from the cork core on occasion.

Chase Bostick

Friday 28th of April 2023

Should I be concerned if a coach is trying to use a high school baseball in a rec dixie youth 8-9 yr old leauge. We use diamond DOL-1 or DDY. He is trying to say high school baseballs are the same as dixie baseballs and when me and my son hit balls there is definitely a difference. Could you clean this up for me?

Baseball Dad

Sunday 30th of April 2023

Hi Chase,

Thanks for your comment. I took a quick look at the DYB rulebook for 2023 (https://dixie-youth-baseball.dcatalog.com/v/2023-DYB-Rule-Book/?page=24, pages 20, 21), and unfortunately, it is not clear which baseballs are allowed/not allowed. I have reached out to my contact at DYB for clarification.

However, according to the rule book, all DYB baseballs are supposed to be marked with "APPROVED FOR LOCAL LEAGUE PLAY" stamps. Diamond DDY, DDB-1, DDY-1 and DDY-2 baseballs have this stamp, as well as Rawlings RDYB1 baseballs.

Diamond DOL-A HS is primarily used in high school games as this ball is very hard, and comes with a cushioned cork pill. DOL-A HS ball is not that much different than college/MiLB/MLB baseballs so they have high exit velocity, especially off of a metal bat.

Diamond DOL-1 HS is designed more for practices (comes with a cork and rubber pill which makes the ball slightly softer than DOL-1HS but it is still hard when compared to DDY baseballs).

According to the DYB rulebook, a baseball with an NFHS stamp (National Federation of State High School Associations) should not permitted but you may want to check with your local league.

You said your son is on a rec team, but even if he was competing at the tournament level of play, I don't think playing with high school baseballs for this young age group is a good idea.

During the 1990s, there was a "battle" between the baseball purists (who wanted to use hardballs for all levels of play) vs. parents who wanted safer balls for younger players. Today, most national youth leagues mandate the use of "safety baseballs" and for a good reason.

I know due to COVID issues, coaches and leagues were scrambling for balls but the supply chain has stabilized so it should not be difficult to get DDY balls.

Besides, if a coach or parent knowingly breaks the rule and someone gets hurt, they may be held liable.

You should talk to one of your board members to express your concerns.

Let me know how it turns out.

Kevin