Hidden “Pills” In The Center Are The Secret To Baseball Making




Making Baseballs

As a baseball fan, I’m super excited for the new MLB season. So excited, in fact, that I decided to look into how baseball came to be, and more importantly, how the ball came to be.


Not only is the process of making a baseball really cool, but it’s really fun to watch, so when I found INSIDER‘s baseball making video, I felt I hit the jackpot.

Wanna know how baseballs are made? This is how it starts.

At the center of every baseball is something baseball makers call “the pill.” It’s smaller than a golfball, about 4.25″ in circumference, and the rubber casing has cork in the center.

Inside a drum, workers pour latex adhesive over hundreds of these “pills,” then the drum is spun to evenly coat and cook the pills with the adhesive. Once finished, it’s time for the next step.

4-ply wool is looped around the pill using a machine, which substantially fattens the pill. Once that’s wound, they do this again, this time with 3-ply wool.

They do this again, using yet another 3-ply yarn, this time with a lighter weight. These yarns are what allow the ball to spring back into shape so easily.

One more time, they wind yarn around the ball, using a much thinner poly-wool blend which gives it a smoother surface. This wound pill is called “the center.”

The Last Steps

More adhesive is added to a spinning drum and the centers are loaded in. In the meantime, they use a hydraulic press to cut out figure-8 shaped pieces of leather with holes for the stitching.

They press two of these to the sticky surface of the center for an exact fit. They clamp the ball, then begin sewing using two needles. This allows the workers to cross stitch the leather together.

There are 108 stitches per ball, but workers finish quickly. The final stitch comes out from the other side of where it was pierced in the center.

The stitcher pulls these stitches into V-shapes for a consistent look and feel. The balls go into a press to smooth down the seams, then a stamper gives it the logo and commissioner’s signature.

With all of those steps, the balls are done, and with drying cycles, it takes a week to make a finished baseball. 

Whether you’re a massive baseball fan or you’re slamming one of these out of the park yourself, it’s always cool to know where your favorite things come from, and a baseball’s journey is so cool to follow.