The Baseball Flight

This is a brief introduction in the baseball flight.Read all the chapters and have fun with the curve ball and the hitter simulators.

Most people know what a baseball is made of. First, two outside rubber layers surrounds a round cork core. Second, about a quarter of a mile of clean white wool is winded around and covered by a thin layer of latex adhesive. Around this, two pieces of cowhide are manually sewn together by 108 red cotton stitches laced over one edge and under another. The finished baseball is 9 to 9.5 inches around. 

Why is a baseball so complicated? How does this structure effect the baseball flight?

Think a minute about the forces applied on this ball during the game:

-the pitcher can through a ball at 90mph and she can reach a speed of 110mph after being hit by the bat.

-the ball is in contact with the bat for about 0.01 seconds and during this time she is compressed about to about half its original diameter.

-during the impact of the ball with the bat only about 35 percent of the energy of motion remains and the rest is converted in heat. 

After production, baseballs are officially tested by shooting them at 85 ft/sec at a wall made of wood backed by concrete to test their rebound rating. The official rating is 0.32, which means that a baseball dropped at this speed will rebound to about 1/3 as high as the drop height.

Do we want a better rebound rate? Not necessarily. Livelier baseballs might result in too many home runs, which might cause many ballparks to become obsolete.

Now you can see why, on average, during a major-league game 22 percent of the balls are damaged and tossed out. 

Before reading any further, guess which ball will perform better in flight: the actual baseball with its bumpy stitches or a same size and same weight smooth ball?

The answer: believe it or not, experiments show that, depending on the speed of the ball, a baseball can go farther than a smooth ball. And that is not all. The outside temperature and humidity can affect the baseball flight too. Event the temperature of the baseball itself can be taken in consideration.

Imagine now that you are a coach or a player who wants to play it’s best. Besides the physical, psychological and tactical training you will have to consider all the facts presented above. On top of that you will have to think of the best angle of launch and the throwing style to maximize the Magnus force .

Here is a short video that will explain the flight pattern of a baseball: 


Return to Aeroynamics in Sports from The Baseball Flight



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