Baseballs for the Longest Day

THIS is a baseball: actually eight (two peek thro) well-used balls, undoubtedly from a bygone era.

THIS is a baseball: actually eight (two peek thro) well-used balls, undoubtedly from a bygone era.

I (Evander) was treated to a good chunk of the fifth-longest game ever played by the New York Mets. It ran twenty innings as the Miami Marlins scratched out a 2-1 win. The contest lasted almost six-and-a-half hours. Altogether, something like 550 pitches were hurtled. (On May 31, 1964, the Mets played a nine-and-a-half-hour-marathon doubleheader against the San Francisco Giants: the vendors even ran out of food. In 1974, they played twenty-five innings against the St. Louis Cardinals. I cannot account for the other two long games.)

Today, however, the Mets TV-broadcast team answered a question I had long asked: How many baseballs are available in the stadium before any given game? Cricket is known for its balls-parsimony. When one does find its way into the seats, it is tossed back or retrieved. (I believe this is even true of T20.) A bowler has advantages with a well-used cricket ball that his pitching counterpart does not.

Major League Baseball is more recognized for its profligacy than are the lords of Lords. The final out caught by a right-fielder is typically flipped into the stands. A screaming liner snagged by the ball boy is given to the cute kid in the pricey box seats. Who knows how many balls are lost during batting practice preceding each game, when sluggers feed their egos by lofting soft-toss pitches into the ozone layer.

So how many baseballs are used in a typical game? The answer, not exact, is that 144 are prepared for play. Prior to a game, new baseballs are rubbed up in the home-team clubhouse with some mixture of dirt, clay, and possibly other elements in standardized combination out of a can. In the twenty-inning game just concluded, twenty-four-dozen balls were readied: the second batch as the game soared past the regulation nine innings.

To rest up I will watch Breathless. This is our 450th blog!


About rightoffthebatbook

Co-author of the book, "Right Off the Bat: Baseball, Cricket, Literature, and Life"
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