From the United States to Japan, every athlete who has ever played the game of baseball has used the basic “tools of the trade”: a baseball, a bat, a glove, protective equipment, and a uniform. Babe Ruth, Ty Cobb, Ted Williams, and Sammy Sosa have made a living out of using these tools to play baseball, but there are also a great number of people who play baseball as a source of enjoyment. The crack of the bat connecting with a fastball, the slap of the ball on the mitt, and the roar of the crowd after a homerun are all common sounds of a baseball game. The thing that many people may not realize, however, is that the bat, ball, and glove that make those sounds possible have undergone major transformations since the early days of the game. The technology of baseball has improved significantly since 1884.
Among the necessities to play a baseball game is the baseball. Since the game’s beginnings, the ball has always been between nine and 9 ¼ inches in circumference and five to
5 ¼ ounces (Honig 125). There have been two major time periods in baseball with regards to the ball: the Dead Ball Era and the Lively Ball Era. A “dead ball” was a baseball that stayed in play for an entire game. These hand wound balls were big and heavy with an inconsistent shape
(Wanner). Nearly no homeruns were hit during the Dead Ball Era because of the weight and shape of the ball. Al Spalding, the maker of Professional Baseball’s “dead balls” said, “It (the ball) was usually made on the spot by some boy offering up his woolen socks as an oblation, and these were raveled and wound round a bullet, a handful of strips cut from a rubber overshoe, a
piece of cork, or almost anything. The winding of this ball was an art, and whoever could excel
in this art was looked upon as a superior being” (Gutman 12). The Dead Ball Era lasted until
1911 when George Reach invented the cork centered baseball, jumpstarting