How Many Baseballs Are Used in a Game? A Complete Breakdown

A new baseball sitting in the dirt by home plate.

When you’re watching a baseball game, it may seem like the pitcher is tossing out a baseball every few pitches for a new one. The number of baseballs used per game, especially in higher levels of play, is probably more than you’d expect.

So, how many baseballs are used in a game?

An average of 100-120 baseballs are used in MLB games. Minor league games use 40-100 baseballs per game on average, with lower levels like single-A using less than higher levels like triple A. College games use around 60 baseballs per game. High school games only use a few.

This article goes into detail on how many baseballs are used in MLB, high school, college, and minor league games. We also explain how baseballs are prepared for MLB games and how many are used in an MLB season.

How Many Baseballs Are Used in an Average MLB Game?

Major League Baseball uses a lot of baseballs, and you’ll notice it when you watch a game. Every few pitches, you’ll see the umpire hand a new ball to the catcher, which adds up quickly.

The average number of baseballs used in one MLB game is 100-120 baseballs. A full day of MLB games, which is 15 games played between all the teams, can total over 1,800 balls on the high end and 1,500 on the low end.

Teams use even more baseballs when games go into extra innings, and new balls are also used for spring training, playoff games, and all-star games. The Home Run Derby alone uses hundreds of baseballs.

So how does one baseball game require so many balls? In the MLB, each ball only makes it through two to three pitches on average. And once a baseball is used and tossed out of a game, it is never used again in an MLB game.

A baseball is used in a game until one of three things occurs.

First, a ball is never reused after leaving the field, usually from a home run or a foul ball. Fans catch and keep these balls, or the ball boys will collect the used balls in a bucket on the side of the field so they don’t get reused.

Second, the umpire switches out balls when they hit the ground or get otherwise scuffed, like after a hit. Any dirt on the ball can affect a pitch and how it moves.

The final situation in which a ball gets replaced is when the pitcher requests a new ball. When this happens, the umpire has to switch it for them.

Pitchers request a new ball quite often because any dirt or scuffs on a baseball makes it harder for them to grip the ball. Without a good grip, the pitcher may struggle to throw accurate pitches.

After a ball is used in a game and then tossed out, teams collect and mark them to know they have been used. Teams keep the used balls for practices and warmups. Or, they get sent off to their minor league teams to use them for batting practice.

If teams used new balls for warmups, batting practice, and in the bullpen, the cost would add up, and the daily number of balls would be significantly higher than 120.

How Are Baseballs Prepared for MLB Games?

A view of Citizens Bank Park.

MLB uses Rawlings baseballs for all of their games. Rawlings makes their baseballs in Costa Rica, and they are hand-stitched and rigorously checked for consistency.

The home team prepares a minimum of 120 baseballs for every game since that is usually enough balls. But, they prepare more balls than they expect, usually around 140-150 baseballs. If fewer balls are used than prepared, the extra balls get used in the next game.

Teams rub the baseballs with a special mud that gives them grip for the pitcher to hold onto. The mud makes the balls less shiny and rougher, which improves the grip.

Usually, the umpires rub the balls with mud before each game to ensure they are all consistent and up to league standards. If the home team has someone prepare the balls, the umpires still check them to ensure they are ready for the game.

How Many Baseballs Are Used in High School Games?

High School baseball games use the least number of balls per game out of any level. High school sports cost a lot of money. One of the easiest ways to keep the cost of high school baseball down is to keep the number of balls used per game low.

The high cost of baseballs is why high school games use nowhere close to the number of baseballs used per game in other leagues.

High school baseball games use the same few baseballs over and over until the game is over. The home team provides two or three baseballs at the start of each game, and those are the only balls used. A new ball enters the game when one is hit out of bounds, whether on a home run or foul ball.

Here is the official ruling on the required number of baseballs from the NFHS:

A minimum of three umpire-approved baseballs shall be provided to start the game. Unless otherwise mutually agreed upon, the home team has this responsibility. No less than two baseballs shall be used to complete the game.

How Many Baseballs Are Used in College Games?

College games use fewer baseballs than MLB games. One college game requires about 60-65 baseballs, which is around half the amount used in an MLB game.

College baseballs are prepared the same way as MLB baseballs, with mud rubbed on them before the game.

The College World Series (CWS) uses a lot of baseballs for the tournament. The ground crew rubs 30 dozen balls with mud to get them game-ready to start the series. The balls get used quickly since one game uses five dozen balls.

As the balls get used, the grounds crew always ensures at least 10 dozen balls are ready for play at any given time. In the final round of the CWS, the crew prepares 30 to 50 dozen balls.

How Many Baseballs Are Used in Minor League Games?

A view of a minor league baseball games from the 1st base line.

Minor league baseball games use fewer balls than MLB games, and the number of balls used per game varies by the league.

According to a baseball umpire, Triple-A games usually need between 70-100 balls for one game, which is slightly less than an MLB game. Other minor league levels, like double and single-A, usually use 40-70 balls in one game.

The reason that minor league games go through fewer balls than major league games is that minor league players continue to use balls that are scuffed or hit the dirt. Dirty or scuffed balls are common reasons why balls get changed out so often in MLB games.

The other reason is that the balls used in some minor league games, like double and single-A games, are sturdier than those used in major league games. So, they last a little longer, even when players hit them around.

Triple-A games use balls closer in style and material to MLB games, which is why they go through more than other minor league games. But, since they play with scuffed and dirty balls, they don’t use quite as many balls in triple-A as they do in the MLB.

How Many Baseballs Are Used in an MLB Season?

We know how many baseballs are used each game, but what about the number of baseballs used in an MLB season

So, each MLB game uses around ten dozen balls on average. And each of the 30 teams has 81 home games for which they must supply baseballs.

If we multiply 81 (games) by 30 (teams) and then multiply that by 120 (baseballs per game), we end up with 291,600 baseballs per MLB season. And that doesn’t include spring training or the playoffs.

That’s a lot of baseballs. We can also calculate the cost of supplying baseballs for one MLB game.

One MLB baseball costs around $6. So, if each game uses an average of 120 balls, let’s do the math to determine how much each game costs for baseballs.

Six dollars multiplied by 120 baseballs equals $720. So one MLB game costs $720 just for baseballs.

Now, that’s how much one game costs for baseballs alone, but how much does one day of 15 games of baseball cost?

Assuming there are 15 games going on, $10,800 worth of baseballs gets used in one day. So, each day of baseball in the summer costs the MLB up to $11,000 just to provide balls for each game.

Let’s go even further to determine how much the MLB spends on baseballs for an entire season of baseball. If we take the 291,600 baseballs that are used in a season and multiply that by $6, the MLB spends roughly $1,749,600 on baseballs for regular-season games every year.

This doesn’t account for balls that are used in practices, playoff games, spring training, all-star games, and home-run derbies, which makes the total cost even higher.

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Steven G.

My name is Steven and I love everything sports! I created this website to share my passion with all of you. Enjoy!

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