Questions About the Juiced Ball Are Back

The Sandlot Ball
What baseballs eventually look like when you don’t take ’em out of the game after their first contact with the bat or ground.


We began to hear of them again during the 2017 World Series. Some pitchers were complaining that the ball was harder to grip, that the seams were bound too tight for certain holds they needed for the sake of throwing certain pitches. Along with those complaints, others questioned the increased liveliness of the ball, suggesting again that home runs that were departing from both World Series parks at a World Series record clip were doing so at a “juiced ball” clip, thus ensuing images of “1930”, the historical season symbol of juiced ball impression upon the game of baseball.

My problem with that whole first paragraph is that we have no way of proving or disproving the truth. These were just things I heard as sideline media comments. They included no specific player attributions nor did they include any evidence to support whatever the truth really is. I did take a close look at the 2017 World Series official ball. The seams did seem a little deep, but that means nothing to my untrained investigative eye in this area.

If MLB itself does have any serious concerns about the ongoing predictability of its game balls, it needs to install detailed quality control standards which define how baseballs are meant to be, including the ball’s dimensions and weight; the construction materials to be used throughout; the standards for assembly, including the kinds of manual and robotic assembly work that shall be expected; and a way by MLB for testing each filled order to see if what they are getting is what they were ordering.

If that’s too much trouble or expense to monitor, then everybody in MLB, everybody covering baseball for the media, and the rest of us too, we all need to just shut up about “juiced junk” and simply play ball!



2017 World Series Baseball


Article Addendum, Late in the Day, 11/12/2017

Wayne Chandler is one of the administrative icons in Astros history. In charge of the big new galloping electronic scoreboard at the Astrodome, Wayne also got to see just about every home run ball that was ever hit at “the Eighth Wonder” – from Day One through the old park’s twilight – and those homers included the two that Doug Rader and Jimmy Wynn once pasted into the high gold seats in the deep nearest-to-heaven section of far left field. When he sent me the following e-mail today, and then followed my request that he express these same thoughts on juiced balls as a column post comment, I felt it needed to be brought up here, even closer to the attention of those of interest in this subject. Here is Wayne’s full comment – and thank you,  Mr. Chandler, for this this solid substantive contribution to our apparently endless hunger for the truth about juiced or lively baseballs:

“Bill, I don’t know about this year, but I remember that about 1970, during spring training and the first month or so of the regular season that we got a batch of balls that I think were different from the rest. I don’t think any official inquiry was made, but balls jumped out of the Astrodome. One week, after Doug Rader and Jimmy Wynn each hit home runs high in the gold seats near the left field line, that I had Rader and Wynn go up there where we had painted a red rooster and a toy cannon on the seats and we photographed them, for their tremendous clouts. None others were ever hit in that location. About that same time, the Cincinnati Reds’ Bernie Carbo hit one that was monumental, high over the Judge’s box in right field.

“We were told that some of the balls were manufactured that spring at a different Caribbean island country. I don’t remember much uproar about the balls at that time, but the barrage soon subsided. I think that happened because the league stopped buying those same balls. – Wayne Chandler”



Bill McCurdy

Principal Writer, Editor, Publisher

The Pecan Park Eagle



2 Responses to “Questions About the Juiced Ball Are Back”

  1. Wayne A Chandler Says:

    The comment by Wayne Chandler, originally posted here, has been moved to the column we wrote today as an addendum to the article itself.

    Great contribution, Wayne. The Pecan Park Eagle thanks you. – Editor.

  2. John Watkins Says:

    All of this sounds a lot like 1930. As Yogi Berra may have said, “it’s déjà vu all over again.”

    That season, Hack Wilson of the Cubs hit 56 home runs and drove in 191 (the latter still the major-league record), New York’s Bill Terry batted .401 (the last National Leaguer to hit .400), and rookie Wally Berger of the Boston Braves slugged 38 home runs (a record that stood until this summer, when the Dodgers’ Cody Bellinger hit 39). The pennant winning Cardinals, with a starting lineup of .300 hitters, batted .314 as a team but finished third in that category behind the Giants (.319) and Phillies (.315).

    The National League as a whole averaged .303 and hit 892 home runs. By way of comparison, the American League batted .288 with 673 home runs.

    What accounted for the differential? The ball. The 1930 National League ball had lower seams and a thinner cover than the American League version.

    For the 1931 season, the National League “deadened” the ball by raising the seams and thickening the cover. The results were dramatic. The league’s batting average fell to .277, while home runs dropped to 493. In the American League, which tinkered with the seams on its ball, the numbers were comparable: a .279 batting average and 576 home runs.

    One other factor should be noted with respect to the 1931 batting averages. Before the season, both leagues eliminated the sacrifice fly from the scoring rules. It was reinstated in 1939, eliminated again in 1940, and restored for good in 1954.

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