A bucket of baseballs is present at every training session, practice, or game. Regardless of skill level, you need to have a lot of balls in your duffel bag when you hit the field.
So, how can we identify a quality bucket of baseballs? What materials make a ball worth your time and money?
Identifying Quality Baseballs
Having durable and well-built balls for use in practice is essentially to replicating a real-game experience. But it’s not always easy to tell just from looking at a bucket of baseballs whether the ball will perform at a high-level. So, I decided to create this website and share my secrets to purchasing quality baseballs.
I’ve created an interactive chart that will help you identify the finest baseballs available for purchase. Below you can view the chart, and learn more about how to complete your purchase. Please note that the balls on this page are all for use in general practice sessions, and are very versatile. I also have posts about balls that are used for more specialized training, like weighted baseballs.
Even if a ball feels good in your hands, it’s important to understand what materials go into its construction. We hope that this information helps, and that you are able to use this knowledge to make an informed purchasing decision.
Baseball Comparison Table and Legend
|Bucket of Baseballs||Covering||Core||Number Included||Price||Rating|
|Rawlings RLLB1||Full Grain Leather||Rubber Pill Center, Cork, Yarn Wound||12||$$||3.6 out of 5|
|Wilson A 1030||Grade C Leather||Cushioned Cork Center, Gray Wool Yarn Wound||12||$$||5 out of 5|
|Wilson A 1060||Grace C Leather||Composite Cork Center, Wool Wound||18||$$$||4.8 out of 5|
|Rawlings ROLB1X||Grade C Leather||Cork Center with Rubber Surrounding, Wound||36||$$$$||4.9 out of 5|
|MacGregor 79P Baseballs||Grace B Leather||Cork and Rubber Center, Yam Wound||60||$$$$$||4.6 out of 5|
The above table contains six columns:
- The images and names of baseballs.
- The material used for baseball covering.
- The composition of the baseball’s core.
- The number of baseballs included in the pack.
- Approximate price of the baseballs on Amazon.com.
- Approximate rating on Amazon.com.
How To Identify a Quality Bucket of Baseballs
Baseball companies will make many different kinds of balls, at various different prices. However, if you’re serious about using a durable and high performance ball for your training sessions or youth leagues, it’s important to understand what physically makes a good ball.
Like any other consumer companies, baseball manufacturers will load their advertisements with unnecessary flashy information. In reality, you should be paying attention to just three parts of a bucket of baseballs: a ball’s covering, a ball’s inner winding, and a ball’s core .
A Baseball’s Covering
It’s very important that any ball used for game-like training sessions be made of a real leather covering.
These balls will be more expensive than balls made of composite or synthetic materials. However, synthetic and composite balls are never used in official play. These balls also don’t behave quite like real leather baseballs in the air, and can even hinder certain efforts like pitching practice. The grip on a synthetic ball is significantly lessened, and results in very poor control while pitching. A ball that slips out of a pitcher’s hand can even drift into the batter’s box and cause serious injury.
Leather used to create baseballs are often given a grade, where Grade B leather is better than Grade A leather, and so on. As seen in the chart above all baseballs that I recommend are made of leather.
A Baseball’s Inner Winding
Almost official game balls, in most levels of competition, use an inner wool winding. Unfortunately, a wool winding is not cheap to manufacture, and companies again do their best to find alternatives. Cheaper balls will have other kinds of winding, or none at all.
A ball’s winding affects how the ball is struck off of a bat. That is, that a ball made with a winding other than yarn will not move with the same physics.
Since you obviously cannot cut a ball open before purchasing it, I’ve included a column on my comparison chart to inform you the inner winding of each recommended ball.
A Baseball’s Core
Again, a ball’s core will significantly affect how the ball flies when it is struck by a bat. It’s very important that a practice ball has a core similar to, or equal to, that of a game ball.
Major League Baseballs, and most official league balls will have a core that is made out of two materials. The inner core is made with cork which is surrounded by a layer made with rubber.
Cheap baseballs will use cores that are made entirely out of rubber, or will create a single composite layer of both rubber and cork. Before purchasing a bucket of baseballs, make sure that the ball has two layers in it’s core. One should be cork, and the other should be rubber.
If you are planning to use the balls for official play, it is best to double-check with your local league before purchasing a ball. They can update you on the exact size, weight, and composition requirements for their leagues. Little League has a great chart in which they list acceptable baseballs.
Most any of these balls are also excellent for practice, and are a great long-term investment for your team.
Additionally, if you’re looking to play or practice with a ball that entirely meets Major League Baseball standards, you can access their official specifications.
For practice purposes, you have a bit more flexibility in which bucket of baseballs you can use. But don’t forget to keep in mind the three prerequisites that all quality practice balls have, as listed above.
Assembling Equipment for Your Team
If you’re in charge of purchasing and maintaining equipment for your baseball team, it’s important to get an idea of exactly how many balls you will need to purchase to last you a full season.
Typically, we recommend that all coaches have a solid variety of balls on hand to be able to run a variety of practice drills. These balls would fall into four distinct categories:
Game-use balls are pretty self-explanatory. We recommend that coaches purchase at least six dozen game-use balls for a season.
Practice balls would be standard baseballs that are used for practice purposes, rather than for official use. We recommend that coaches purchase at least six dozen game-use balls for a season.
Weighted baseballs are typically used to develop strength in a pitcher’s arm. These are not necessary, but it is handy to have a solid set of weighted baseballs available for practice.
Foam baseballs are used more often for batting and infield practice. They move more sharply than standard baseballs, and are great for developing reflexes and timing. Again, these are not necessary, but are a great tool to have in any equipment bag.
For more information on our preferred baseballs, you can read brief reviews of a few of our favorite balls. Please note that not all are listed in the comparison chart.
Review of the Best Baseballs
The Wilson A 1060 is the perfect combination of quality and value. It’s an inexpensive ball that replicates game conditions well, and has raised seams for pitching practice. This ball features cushioned cork and rubber interior, and is wound with wool. Made with high quality Grade C Leather, this bucket of baseballs has the durability to easily last over a full season.
The Wilson A 1060 is one of our favorite baseballs for use in a practice setting, across any level of competition.
The Rawlings ROLB1x ball is about as good as it gets. Ideal for both practice and real game conditions, many of these balls were first considered for use as official Major League Baseballs, save for minor cosmetic imperfections. This is not the cheapest bucket of baseballs available, but make for a quality purchase. They are leather-bound, and have a composite cork and rubber core.
The Rawlings ROLB1X is one of our favorite baseballs for use in an official game setting.
The SKLZ bolt balls are small yellow foam balls suitable only for practice. They are only .2oz and work well for contact hitting drills and training. These should be used to compliment existing practice balls only.
The Lite-Flite Baseballs by Jugs are excellent balls for indoor training or training in limited spaces. They are the same size as Major League Balls, and are ready to use with certain pitching machines. Their light weight also make them ideal for training younger players to catch and field without using potentially painful five ounce balls.
Which Bucket of Baseballs Will You Purchase?
Now that you’ve had the chance to learn about what makes a quality ball, it’s time for you to make your decision. Pick a link in the comparison table or review, and you’ll have your brand new bucket of baseballs headed towards your house in only a few hours!
Additionally, if you’re interested in keeping up with our website and our reviews, you can subscribe to our blog, by following our RSS feed.
I hope that this guide has helped you learn more about a baseball’s composition. If you feel that there is a quality bucket of baseballs that I may have missed, please let me know in the comments below.