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Inside Baseball

What’s Inside A Baseball?

Can't have an 'Inside Baseball' week without asking the big questions

Steshka Willems

Because this is Inside Baseball Week here at Aftermath, I figured if I wanted to contribute something really hard-hitting, really get to the truth of something, there was no more important question to ask in all of journalism than this: "Without Googling it, what is inside a baseball?"

I'm Australian, I have no idea! So I asked some people who might: the lovely sports blogging staff of the American website Defector dot com.

Luis Paez-Pumar: I believe it is cork and yarn, and maybe rubber? I’ve seen one cut in half, and I definitely remember the cork and yarn.

Patrick Redford: Okay so while I don't think I would technically rule that this is cheating, some would. Isn't that so beautiful, subjectivity? (This is also what I would say at the Court for Arbitration of Sport before I get a lifetime ban.) My point is, my instinct was like "...rock," "...so many rubber bands it kinda becomes a fossilized rubber band ball," etc. even though as a child once I distinctly remember cutting one open with a saw. What was in there? Great question.

So I asked my partner Lexi, and she said, "You know this, I told you" (Ed. Note: respectively, no clearly, and yes). "It's American wool," as Lexi said. When asked for further comment, she added, "As Avery Trufelman told me on Articles of Interest, it's because the sheepherders needed to ensure they had a market." So, there you have it.

Lauren Theisen: I think it's gray and…maybe kind of squishy?

Samer Kalaf: Without looking it up, I'm trying to imagine someone hitting a ball so hard that the cover peels off… I want to say that the center is some kind of rubber, and then there's something stringy wrapped around it, but I do not know specifically what that layer is. The cover is the easy part: leather with stitching. But you weren't looking for that. So my answer is: rubber and string of some kind.

Drew Magary: I think it’s cork in the center, which is then bound up in like a fuckload of string and then covered with the hide. I think I’m missing another layer here, but I might also be thinking about what's inside of the Earth.

Dan McQuade: Yeah it’s a cork center with string (Twine? Yarn?) wrapped around it.


I'm the one asking the question so I can Google it, and according to MLB rules a baseball "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."

Congratulations to all who got it right, or got close! On behalf of everyone else, we regret the errors. 

Defector, the Last Good Website, can be subscribed to here.

Inside Baseball is a week of stories about the lesser-known parts of game development, the ins and outs of games journalism, and a peek behind the curtain at Aftermath. It's part of our first subscription drive, which you can learn more about here. If you like what you see, please consider subscribing!

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