Baseballs are precisely made, cut exactly, to specifications that have been refined over centuries of the game being played for a sense of ubiquity from stadium to stadium.
It makes sense; Stephen Strasburg and Max Scherzer shouldn’t have to adjust to a new type of ball from game to game, while Bryce Harper and Daniel Murphy shouldn’t have to adjust to different movements of the ball (not caused by pitchers, at least).
For that reason, the cushioned cork center, wrapped by wool, polyester, and cotton and then covered with cowhide and stitched together, can only weigh 5 to 5.25 ounces.
As an added bonus, weird stuff doesn’t happen to the physical baseballs that often.
They typically don’t come unstitched mid-play, nor does anything regularly come apart.
Of course, then guys like Bryce Harper come along and do stuff like this:
Yup, Bryce Harper literally hit the cover off of the baseball. Not in the “he hit it a mile!” way. In the, “wait, we can’t use this anymore” way.
It wasn’t in typical fashion, though — in the rare instances when players hit the cover off a baseball, it’s typically on a hard line drive or something of the sort.
Harper slammed the baseball into the plate, and that seemed to do the damage. MASN color commentator F.P. Santangelo had a full explanation:
C'mon, Bryce man ... only 2 or 3 guys in history ever busted the guts out of a baseball. pic.twitter.com/SkkR9W4AJI— Washington Nationals (@Nationals) June 9, 2017
Does this say more about the quality of the baseball itself, the humidity at Nationals Park (I don’t know how this would affect the baseball itself but there’s a chance that it influenced things, maybe?), or Bryce Harper’s raw power?
Of course, the real question: Will the ball go up for auction alongside the Hunter Strickland jersey? What? They took that down?