Baseball is Back! (but how many baseballs?)

Happy baseball season!

I cannot make clear just how much I’ve missed baseball, and, as disappointing as it is for me, I’m a New York Mets fan.

Citi Field, Mets, New York , New York baseball, Flushing Queens, Flushing, Queens, Queens Baseball, Mets, New York Mets, NY Mets

Citi Field, home of the New York Mets

I missed the boys of summer all winter, and as a 49er fan, the end of football season was a… disappointment.

As I sat on my couch, watching the Mets play the San Diego Padres, I started thinking about something I’ve never thought about before: How much leather is used to make the baseballs for MLB?

The official baseball of MLB, and, one would assume, every other baseball made in the world, is built of five products: cork, rubber, wool, cotton, and leather.

See, baseballs have been made pretty much the same way or almost 100 years, with a cork center, covered in rubber, called the “pill.” The pill is then wound with almost a quarter-mile of yarn, most of it wool. The whole shebang is then covered in cowhide, hand stitched with cotton thread.

Baseball, baseball cross section, baseball crosssection, how baseballs are made, making baseball, making baseballs, manufacturing baeballs, Rawlings baseballs

Notice how two of the five parts, maybe the most used and most important parts, are animal products?

I couldn’t help but wonder, “Why?”

After doing a little bit of research, I found that each home team must have 90 balls on hand for the game. That number doesn’t include batting practice, spring training, the playoffs, or minor league baseball.

If you assume 90 baseballs per game, and there are 162 games, with 16 home teams each game, that means there are 233,280 baseballs produced exclusively for playing regular season Major League Baseball.

Holy Crap!! 233 thousand baseballs!?!

I know that there is demand for professional sports, but wow. . . I mean, just wow. . .

Those 233 thousand baseballs doesn’t even include a single ball for Spring Training, batting and/or fielding practice, Minor League Baseball, college and high school athletics, or club, travel, and Little League teams.

Shea Stadium, Citi Field, Mets, New York Mets, Baseballs, Speciality Baseballs, MLB, Mets Baseballs, Bets Baseball

It also doesn’t include specialty balls, like these

How many cows are killed and sheep are abused because of baseball each year?

And while baseball is by far my favorite sport, there’s a reason that a football is called “the ol’ pigskin.” It was originally a pig’s bladder that was inflated, but now it’s cow’s leather over a rubber interior. Even still. . .

So, because of this, I’ve written to MLB and asked  them to start looking at non-animal materials for baseballs. By visiting MLBs Contact Us page, I left the following message:

I am an avid baseball fan and have been for most of my life. I am also a vegan, so I eat no animal products and do not buy items, like clothing or shoes, that contain animal products. I am writing today to discuss the current design of baseballs. I am asking MLB to begin looking at other types of materials for ball assembly. I ask that non-animal products, like cotton yarn and man-made leather, be studied as alternates to the current wool and cow-hide used in making baseballs. Thank you.

So here;s my request, click on over, copy and paste my comments (my category was “Fan Feedback), unless you want to leave your own, and let Major League baseball know that we want them to stop harming animals. Let them know that we love the sport (or if not, act that way) and next comes changing other sports.

I hope you’ll help me by asking MLB to change their habits, or at bare minimum, to start trying to change their habits, even if it takes a long time, and thanks!


~ by VegansHusband on April 8, 2013.

6 Responses to “Baseball is Back! (but how many baseballs?)”

  1. At the end of the day, there isn’t really an alternative because they do not want to alter the game. Just like in college and high school now that they use bbcor bats, the game has changed too much and runs are hard to come by now. If you change the product then it could change the game for the hitters and pitchers. I understand the concern but they would have to do a lot of testing before even trying to figure out how to change it.

    • You know, I agree, but I would hope that eventually they would start the process of researching animal-free alternatives. Sooner rather than later, I would hope, but we’ll see how it goes over time.

      Thanks for dropping by and putting in your 2 cents.

  2. I’m so ready for another long summer of baseball…it’s a great time of year!

  3. I’m looking forward to Spring Training in and around Phoenix later this month (March 2015). I’ll note that there are now 30 teams – thus 15 home teams on average over 81 home games.

    You state and ask:

    Notice how two of the five parts, maybe the most used and most important parts, are animal products?

    I couldn’t help but wonder, “Why?”

    In this five-minute video:

    They state that the specification for baseballs (in MLB) dates to the late-19th-century, so one answer is that baseball is a game steeped in tradition and changes slowly (but that is really only a description and not a “reason” per se).

    You also posit this question:

    How many cows are killed and sheep are abused because of baseball each year?.

    Its been suggested that sheep are more comfortable after shearing – at least during the warmer months. So “abuse” may be an over-statement – a swing and a miss if you will.

    The Cattle question is less clear. It seems unlikely that bovine breeding is conducted only for baseball covers. I’d guess that meat and dairy cows are involved.

    In any case research into tissue generation, if made cost effective compared to baseball covers as a meat and dairy byproduct, might yield a 21st century way to produce the old “horsehide”.

    Until then, blow off the suds, have a ballpark frank, and enjoy the most beautiful game.

    • Hey, don’t get me wrong, I love baseball and I’ll keep watching. While the animal production isn’t just for leather, it creates demand, and that’s what makes me uncomfortable. As for the wool production, the studies that suggest that sheep are more comfortable are based on had shearing and not industrial shearing. The process is very different.

      Either way, thanks so much for stopping by and for commenting. I hope you enjoy your spring training games, and let’s go Mets!

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