Baseball fun is in full swing at the Riley Children's Health Sports Legends Experience! At Wiese Field donated by Elizabeth Bracken Wiese and J. Frederic Wiese Jr., you can hit a pitch, run the bases, and learn about the Indianapolis Clowns! But before you step up to the plate, turn your ball cap into a thinking cap with this week's why: Why does a baseball have red stitching?
Our teammates at Bleacher Report hit a home run with this explanation...
A TALE OF TWO LEAGUES
Major League Baseball (MLB) is composed of the National League and the American League, both of which historically used different stitching. In the early 1900s, the National League used baseballs with black laces intertwined with red, while the American League’s stitches were blue and red. In 1934 the MLB adopted a league-wide standard which has gone largely unchanged today: 108 double-stitches of waxed red thread.
Even the MLB doesn’t seem to have an answer as to why baseball stitches are specifically red, but there are some educated guesses. Before the 1900s, baseballs used natural cowhide-colored stitches. Both the National and American Leagues added color shortly after the turn of the century, likely to help the batter see the ball better as it approaches. When the MLB announced the official red standard, they likely ditched black and blue thread altogether and settled on red because it was the most highly visible color already in use by both leagues.
This seems to be a likely explanation, especially given the MLB’s standards for pitcher uniforms. As per the Official Rulebook, pitchers may not have numbers, letters or insignias on their sleeves. A pitcher’s gloves also can’t be white or otherwise distracting, so the batter has a clear view of the incoming pitch.
Looking for more Never Stop Asking "Why?" questions? Catch up on all of the past "Why's" on the blog!