A baseball is a ball used in the sport of the same name, baseball. The ball features a rubber or cork center, wrapped in yarn and covered in leather. It is 9 to 91?4 inches (229–235 mm) in circumference (27?8–3 in or 73–76 mm in diameter). The yarn or string used to wrap the baseball can be up to one mile (1 1?2 km) in length. Some are wrapped in a plastic like covering, while others have a leather finish. Cushioned wood cores were patented in the late 19th century by sports equipment manufacturer Spalding, the company founded by former baseball star A.G. Spalding. During World War II, rubber centers from golf balls were used, due to wartime restrictions on the domestic use of materials. In recent years, various synthetic materials have been used to create baseballs; however, they are generally considered lower quality, and are not used in the major leagues. Using different types of materials affects the performance of the baseball. Generally a tighter-wound baseball will leave the bat faster, and fly farther. Since the baseballs used today are wound tighter than in previous years, notably the dead-ball era that prevailed through 1920, people often say that the ball is "juiced". The height of the seams also affect how well a pitcher can pitch. Generally, in Little League through college leagues, the seams are markedly higher than balls used in professional leagues. In the early years of the sport, only one ball was typically used in each game, unless it was too damaged to be usable; balls hit into the stands were retrieved by team employees in order to be put back in play, as is still done today in most other sports. Over the course of a game, a typical ball would become discolored due to dirt, and often tobacco juice and other materials applied by players; damage would also occur, causing slight rips and seam bursts. However, after the 1920 death of batter Ray Chapman after being hit in the head by a pitch, perhaps due to his difficulty in seeing the ball during twilight, an effort was made to replace dirty or worn baseballs. In 1909, sports magnate and former player Alfred J. Reach patented the cork-center based "ivory nut" in Panama and suggested it might be even better in a baseball than cork. Howev

r, Philadelphia Athletics president Benjamin F. Shibe, who had invented and patented the cork centred ball, commented, "I look for the leagues to adopt an 'ivory nut' baseball just as soon as they adopt a ferro-concrete bat and a base studded with steel spikes.". Both leagues adopted Shibe's cork centred ball in 1910. The official major league ball is made by Rawlings, which produces the stitched balls in Costa Rica. Rawlings became the official supplier to the majors players in 1977, succeeding Spalding, which had supplied the official ball for a century. The cover of the ball was traditionally horsehide through 1973, but due to dwindling supplies cowhide was introduced in 1974. Attempts to automate the manufacturing process were never entirely successful, leading to the continued use of hand-made balls. The raw materials are imported from the U.S., assembled into baseballs and shipped back. Throughout the 20th Century, Major League Baseball used two technically identical but differently marked balls. The American Leagues had "Official American League" and the AL President's signature in blue ink, whilst National League baseballs had "Official National League" and the NL President's signature in black ink. In 2000, MLB reorganized its structure to eliminate the position of league presidents, and switched to one singular baseball for both leagues. Under the current rules, a major league baseball weighs between 5 and 51?4 ounces (142 and 149 g), and is 9 to 91?4 inches (229–235 mm) in circumference (27?8–3 in or 73–76 mm in diameter). There are 108 double stitches on a baseball (which some people call 216 stitches). Today, several dozen baseballs are used in a typical professional game, due to scratches, discoloration, and undesirable texture that can occur during the game. Balls hit out of the park for momentous occasions (record setting, or for personal reasons) are often requested to be returned by the fan who catches it, or donated freely by the fan. Usually the player will give the fan an autographed bat and/or other autographed items in exchange for the special ball. Every team in Major League Baseball uses Baseball Rubbing Mud to rub their balls in before their pitchers use them in games.