What Happens to the Used Baseballs? (Detailed Answer)

What Happens to the Used Baseballs?

If you are a baseball fan, you must have experienced several baseball matches live. Baseball is a sport where both the players and fans have equal excitement and energy. 

Wherever you sit in the stadium, you will enjoy the game at its best. Most baseball teams don’t put the used baseball in a landfill. But what do they do? 

What Happens to the Used Baseballs?

Most of the used baseballs are thrown in the barrel for batting practice. Some baseballs get sold to the ball collectors. Also, some balls are taken out of the match and kept for players when they reach a milestone. Usually, baseballs are given away or put into bins for batting practice balls.

In the MLB, the baseballs are frequently fouled off into the stands by batters. Usually, the balls are discarded after hitting the dirt. 

On average, a baseball has a life of only a few pitches. Umpires often inspect the baseballs that remain in the play and are hit hard. 

For a nine-inning game, approximately ten dozen balls are required. 

When you watch Major League Baseball, you must have witnessed that the bowlers change the balls continuously at regular intervals. 

It happens as the umpire sets the rule of changing the baseballs continuously. But do you know what happens to those used baseballs?

Many fans may think changing so many baseballs in a single match is a waste. The balls that the umpire rejects once can’t be used ever as they may cause danger to the hitter. Can You Use Wood Bats in High School? 

Baseballs that are discarded during a baseball match are transformed into merchandise. 

When the ball comes from the field, it directly goes for authentication. The home team collects all the discarded baseballs.

Then the batboy collects all the used or rejected balls and hands them over to the authenticator.

Here, the authenticator is responsible for all the discarded baseballs. The authenticator keeps track of all the baseballs and then keeps track of the events while the ball is on the ground. 

Then a Major League Baseball hologram gets stuck by the authenticator. This hologram is tamper-proof, and the serial number of the baseball gets registered into a software program.

Each serial number is linked to the Gameday app of MLB that keeps track of every pitch.

When the authentication process is done, the used balls are proceeded forward for packaging and then labelled with details. 

When these procedures are done, the baseballs are sent to the shops or sold online at the MLB sites or MLB shops. 

Every used baseball had the date when the baseball was used in the game. Also, it has the name of the pitcher of the baseball and the hitter of the ball. 

Also, the information is recorded why the ball had to be replaced. The used baseballs are sold at pretty high prices.

The thrown baseballs are thrown away and sold the cheapest. The baseballs that have been fouled off are sold at a little higher price. 

And the baseballs that are hit for a single, double or triple hit.

Used for Batting Practice

Usually, in an MLB game, a baseball has a concise life of around eight minutes before it ends up in the bucket.

This bucket makes its way to the practice field. These baseballs don’t get any second chance to help the players to provide better performance to the players in the game. 

Used As Practice Balls

The used baseballs that remain in good shape and are capable of using a little more can be used as the practice balls. 

Such baseballs are very suitable for practising purposes, and the players don’t have to use new baseballs during practice in this condition. Must check out the blog, What is the Dropped Third Strike Rule in Baseball? which will help you understand the rule.

Besides, these baseballs are kept for later game purposes. In this way, the players can save both their money and time. 

However, these balls have to be changed regularly during the main game. So, instead of promptly declaring them useless, you can utilize them until possible.

Sold to Collectors

Great plays stay in our minds for so many years. Many baseball fans or baseball collectors grab baseballs that the fastest pitchers throw. 

The baseballs used in the memorable matches are sold off at auctions even. Such baseballs are sold through the MLB website or other auction avenues.

Saved For Special Milestones

Baseball lovers watch the game and dream of playing the game once. It is possible as the used baseballs are saved for special milestones. 

If a player gets the first home run, the first strikeout, or the first double play, the baseballs are put aside for the players as a memento.

Also Read: How to make Baseball Gloves Sticky

Caught By Fans

Usually, most of the used baseballs directly go to the baseball fans. When a batter hits the ball, fans from the crowd wish to catch those balls.

In such conditions, two things happen; either the baseball hits foul and goes to the stands, or there will be a home run, and the baseball goes in the stands.

Given Away to Fans

If a baseball player wants to give away his ball, he passes those balls directly to the fans, cheering them up during the match. 

Thus, baseball fans cherish baseball, creating a memory for the fans. In this way, the players can show their fans that they appreciate and acknowledge their fans’ support. 

Therefore, giving away the balls to fans is a good idea.

Related:- How to Call a Balk in Baseball? A Definitive Guide

Why Do the Baseballs Get Retired?

There are several reasons that baseball gets retired. Some common causes are

  • The pitcher or catcher asks the umpire to switch or examine the ball.
  • Batter asks the umpire to switch or examine the ball.
  • If the ball gets any dirt.
  • Any player requests the umpire to inspect the ball.
  • If the ball has any cut or scuff on it.
  • If the ball comes apart during the play.

Why Do the Catchers Change Baseballs?

While watching a baseball game on television, you must notice that the Major League Baseball catchers continuously go through the baseball after baseball. Each time a ball is hit or thrown in the dirt, a new ball is required.

For just a single game, dozens of balls are required. But why do they do so? 

If you attentively see a catcher look at the ball and get rid of it, you may think that the catcher doesn’t like it and always demands a brand new ball. 

Sometimes it is true, but it is not always the fact. Catchers change the baseball continuously during the game as it is a rule set by Major League Baseball and umpires. 

During a baseball match, if an umpire notices a ball has dirt on it or a scuffed ball, he orders a brand new baseball to introduce into the game. 

This rule ensures that the hitters can see every pitch. So, this particular rule is made to protect the hitter and let them see a pitch.

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FAQ's

Ans. In an MLB approximately, 84 to 120 balls are used. So, approximately 30 teams use around 1,550 balls in a single day. According to an equipment manager at MLB, the maximum number of used balls are 120 in a single game.

Ans. No discarded baseballs don’t get reused at all. The discarded baseballs go through a procedure to get authenticated and sold in MLB shops. These balls are sold as used memorabilia. Baseballs can’t be reused as it is a strict rule set by the MLB and enforced by umpires. Every time clean balls are used in the game, the hitters can see every pitch.

Ans. According to the MLB equipment manager, approximately 120 baseballs are used per game. These baseballs are used up between home runs, fouls, and scuffs. This number can increase if the match goes into extra innings. Usually, the home teams provide the baseballs. However, extra balls can be brought only in case. Any baseball that won’t be used for the next game.

Ans. Usually, when a batted ball is ruled a foul ball, the ball is considered dead. In such a scenario, all runners have to return to their time-of-pitch base without liability to be put out. This time the batter returns to the home plate to continue his turn at-bat. A strike is issued for the batter if he has less than two strikes.

An MLB baseball worths around $7.00. According to several surveys, approximately 1 million baseballs are purchased in a year. So, on average, the league spends roughly $10 million on baseballs only. But a regular baseball costs around $6. So, the overall calculation will be approximately $1.5 million per MLB season.

Conclusion

So, overall you know that the Major League Baseball teams don’t put the used baseballs in a landfill. All these baseballs are recycled in some way or another.

So, next time when you see a pitcher ask for a new ball, don’t get confused or surprised. 

Now you know why the pitchers constantly change the balls during the match and what happens to the used baseballs.

In Little League Baseball, a balk is considered illegal by the pitcher with a runner on base, denominating all the batters to advance one base.

Prior to this, a balk was not called in the Little League Major Division or softball as a base runner can’t lead off a base. Checkout a whole guide to baseball rules for kids. Therefore, the balk didn’t exist before in Little League Baseball as there was no situation where the pitcher could mislead the base runner.