How Many Baseballs Are Used In A Game?

If you’ve ever been to a major league baseball game, you might’ve found yourself wondering about the costs that go into putting on such a big event. 

From hiring the stadium to purchasing hot dogs for the vendors, these events don’t come cheap, and of course, there is no expense spared when it comes to purchasing one of the most essential elements – the baseballs. 

Would you believe that in an average MLB nine-inning game they go through an astonishing 120 balls? If a game goes into extra innings, they’ll use even more.

Baseball Game Overview

In Major League Baseball (MLB), the game you love unfolds over nine innings, with each inning consisting of two halves. MLB teams alternate between playing offense (batting) and defense (fielding), with the visiting team typically taking the first turn at bat.


  • Top Half: Visiting team bats
  • Bottom Half: Home team bats

During the game, baseballs are frequently replaced due to wear or when they’re hit into the stands, become scuffed, or are otherwise deemed unfit for play by the umpire.

Reasons for Replacement:

  • Hit foul into the stands
  • Hit out of the park (home run)
  • Scuffed or dirty
  • Pitcher requests a new ball

The home team is responsible for providing the official game balls, which an umpire inspects before the game. There are typically more baseballs on hand than the average used, to account for those that leave the field of play or get damaged.

Umpire’s Role:

  • Inspects and approves game balls
  • Determines when a ball is removed from play

Understanding these nuances will enhance your appreciation of the game’s dynamics and the unseen work that goes into each and every play.

Baseball Usage Factors

In Major League Baseball (MLB), the number of baseballs used in a game can be influenced by specific game-related events and strict ball quality standards. These factors ensure that the game maintains a consistent level of play and adheres to the league’s regulations.

Game Events

During an MLB game, several situations can lead to the replacement of a ball:

  • Foul balls: A significant portion of baseballs leave play when batted into foul territory.
  • Home runs: Balls hit out of play for home runs are typically kept by fans as souvenirs.
  • Pitcher requests: Pitchers may request new balls if they feel the current ball is unfit for play.
  • Umpire discretion: Umpires can remove a ball from the game at any time if they deem it’s become scuffed, soiled, or otherwise unsuitable.

Ball Quality Standards

The quality of baseballs is paramount in MLB, necessitating frequent replacements:

  • Pre-game inspection: Umpires check baseballs before games, approving only those that meet MLB specifications.
  • Wear and tear: Balls that get scuffed, dirty, or damaged are replaced to maintain a uniform standard for each pitch.

These factors contribute to the estimated 72 to 120 baseballs used per MLB game.

Baseball Life Cycle

The journey of a baseball from its preparation to its retirement is a meticulous process, impacting the flow and integrity of the game itself.

Pre-Game Preparation

Before you ever see a baseball in play, it undergoes thorough preparation. Umpires are responsible for the inspection of every baseball, ensuring they meet the required standards for game use. This can include rubbing them with a special mud to condition the surface for better grip.

In-Game Usage

During the game, you might notice that the number of baseballs used is quite high. Baseballs are typically removed from the game after they become scuffed, dirty, or are hit into the stands. These instances require a constant supply of game-ready baseballs, so as many as 70 to 120 baseballs can be used in a single nine-inning game.

Post-Game Process

Once a baseball is out of play, its life in the spotlight comes to an end. These baseballs often find a second life in practice sessions. Others may be authenticated and sold as memorabilia, while some are simply discarded if they’re damaged beyond any further use.

Average Baseballs Used

When you watch a baseball game, you’re witnessing the use of numerous baseballs, each of which gets switched out frequently for various reasons, such as wear from play or being hit into the stands.

Major League Figures

In the Major Leagues, evidence suggests that the average count of baseballs used per game ranges from 84 to 120. To provide a sense of scale, that’s approximately 8 to 10 dozen balls meeting the field each game.

  • 84 baseballs/game (low estimate)
  • 120 baseballs/game (high estimate)

Each of these balls has to pass the umpires’ inspection before being deemed fit for play.

Minor League Estimates

In Minor League Baseball, the usage data is less publicized, but with the quality of play and conditions being different, your estimates can be adjusted. Conservatively, you might expect slightly fewer balls to be used per game.

  • Estimated Average: 70-80 baseballs/game

This reduction accounts for factors like smaller stadiums and less frequent foul balls reaching the stands.

Environmental and Cost Considerations

When considering the number of baseballs used per MLB game, which averages between 70 and 120, you must also consider the environmental impact and the associated costs. The production of this vast number of baseballs requires significant resources, including leather, yarn, and rubber. Each component has an environmental cost from procurement to processing.

Environmental Impact:

  • Leather: The hide for leather contributes to the environmental load, including land and water usage for cattle, and the carbon footprint from cattle rearing.
  • Rubber and Yarn: Sourcing these materials involves extracting finite resources, which also entails energy usage and pollution.

From the cost perspective, MLB teams spend a substantial amount on baseballs each season.

  • Average Price per Ball: $7-$10
  • Range of Usage per Game: 70-120 baseballs
  • Estimated Seasonal Expenditure: (900,000 baseballs)

Cost Breakdown:

  • Game Balls: These are the balls used during the official gameplay.
  • Practice Balls: Balls used for batting and fielding practice before games.
  • Autograph Balls: Balls reserved for signatures, not used for actual play.

Given the importance of financial stewardship and ecological sustainability, MLB teams and the wider baseball industry are incentivized to consider strategies to reduce environmental impact while managing costs effectively.

AspectEnvironmental ImpactMonetary Cost
Raw MaterialsLand, water, and energy usageCost of materials and manufacturing
Ball ProductionCarbon footprint from processing stagesTransportation and distribution expenses
Usage in MLB GamesWaste generation from discarded ballsAnnual expenditure on purchasing baseballs

Your awareness of these considerations may lead to a deeper understanding of baseball beyond the field and help you appreciate the full scope of the game’s environmental and economic footprint.