Do Baseball Float?

Do Baseballs Float? Yes and Here’s a Scientific Explanation

Do baseballs float in the water? Yes, it does. You will find the math and reasons quite fascinating here.

The questions add up.

Why does a baseball float in water? And how long will a baseball float?

I will try to clear everything out today. Starting from the buoyancy rule to the materials used in making baseball, we will delve into the matter to see what makes it stay afloat on the water.

But why does a baseball float in water? And how long will a baseball float? I will try to clear everything out today. Starting from the Buoyancy rule to the materials used in making baseball, we will delve into the matter to see what really makes it stay afloat on the water.

First off, what are the materials used in baseball?

If you are someone familiar with this game, you are very likely to see that baseball is a bit different than other types of balls. It’s not pumped full of air but feels slightly hard in your hands. 

Still, when you hit it with a bat, it bounces and swings across the ground. Why is that?

When you cut the ball in half, you will notice it is actually made of several layers. It needs to go through quite a process to get the final result.

The core of baseball is known as the Pill. It normally consists of a cork covered in two thin layers of rubber. 

Then, using a special component, the “pill” is encircled by several layers of yarn wound under extreme tension. 

The layers consist of:

  • 121 yards of blue-gray, four-ply wool yarn
  • 45 yards of white, three-ply wool yarn
  • 53 yards of blue-gray, three-ply wool yarn
  • And 150 yards of white yarn blended with polyester and cotton

The “pill” is covered with two strips of white cowhide and rubber cement after these layers of yarn are carefully wrapped around it. 216 raised stitches are created by hand stitching. 88 lengths of red cotton thread are used for the stitching.

However, some specifications are normally met by testing.

For instance, baseballs must weigh a minimum of five ounces but not more than five and a half and have a circumference of at least nine inches but not more than nine and a half

Do Baseballs float? Here’s the Science-Backed Answer

Baseball can stay afloat in the water. The science of buoyancy and floating baseball go hand in hand. Thanks to the great mathematician Archimedes for his principle. 

In a nutshell, the ability of a baseball to stay afloat on liquid is deeply rooted in the principles of buoyancy. The formation of a baseball, the materials used in its making, and elements like its size and shape affect a lot of how it behaves in a certain way.

Why Does a Baseball Float in Water?

So, here are the main reasons why a baseball floats in the water:

Buoyancy

Buoyancy is the upward force that keeps an object afloat in water or any other fluid. It is the ultimate result of the top-to-bottom pressure difference of the submerged object. The construction of the baseball is basically what keeps it afloat on the water. 

The Pill

The baseball core, also known as the Pill, is usually made of rubber. The core is covered by several layers of yarn and then leather. All over, the density of a baseball is less than that of water. 

When an object is less dense than the fluid it is placed upon, it automatically experiences an upward buoyant force, which causes it to float. 

Weight

Normally, the outer layer of a baseball is made of leather. Which is less porous to get consumed by fluid. As a result, this condition results in strong water resistance, allowing the core to stay relatively dry.  Ultimately, the core remains largely unaffected, and the baseball can float on the liquid.

Deep Dive: How much Baseball weigh?

Size and Shape

A baseball’s capacity to float is also influenced by its size and shape. The circumference of a typical baseball is around nine inches, meaning that it has a large surface area. In order to provide enough buoyant force to offset the ball’s weight, this surface area is necessary.

When a baseball immerses itself in water to the full extent of its volume, the weight of the water it has displaced pushes up on the baseball’s weight. If the baseball’s weight is distributed so that it doesn’t sink, it will float by nature.

What is Buoyancy?

Buoyancy is a force that helps an object stay afloat in the water or in the air. In the context of baseball, we need to first understand this concept.

Why Does a Baseball Float in Water
Buoyancy Principles and Baseball

There are typically three types of buoyancy:

Positive Buoyancy

Positive buoyancy takes place when an item displaces fluid. It happens to be lighter than the fluid. As a result, the item will float in the water. This is a result of the buoyant force being greater than the object’s weight.

Negative Buoyancy 

This occurs when the fluid that an item displaces is less dense than the object itself. Because of its weight, which is larger than the buoyant force in this situation, the item will very likely sink into the fluid. 

Neutral Buoyancy 

In this case, the object will float or sink in the liquid, but it will hover there. This indicates that the displacement of liquid by the item and its weight are almost equal.

The Floating Calculation: How Long Will a Baseball Stay Afloat?

The duration of a baseball floating in water depends on a few factors. The common factors include its material, design, and other environmental situations. 

To begin with, let’s talk about the buoyancy formula that is deeply rooted in the floating object.

The buoyancy formula is based on Archimedes’ principle. Let’s have a look at that:

FB=PVg

Where,

  • F{B}=buoyant force
  • P =fluid density
  • g= acceleration due to gravity
  • V=fluid volume

Essentially, the weight of the thing and the volume of fluid it displaces determine whether an object floats or sinks in the fluid.

An item will float if the weight of the fluid volume it displaces is greater than its own weight. However, the object will sink into the fluid if the weight of the displaced fluid volume is less than the object’s weight.

How Do the Materials Affect the Float?

Now, let’s talk about the material and how it affects the floating condition of a baseball. 

We know that baseballs generally have a rubber core inside, which is also surrounded by a number of yarn layers. 

Finally, the ball is covered with leather on the surface and a few necessary stitches.

Now, if the baseball surface remains less waterproof, say, the leather on the outside is less porous and more likely to get absorbed by the water.

In this case, what will happen is that the baseball will stay in the water for a short duration. Because, with time, the core slowly starts getting affected by the water, causing the ultimate sink of the baseball.

The water absorption solely depends on the quality of the leather and the stitching. The better the quality of the leather, the less likely it will sink in the water. Because a well-made baseball absorbs water at a slower rate, its buoyancy lasts longer.

However, besides this factor, the weather also has a grave impact on this matter.

For example, in cold weather, the pores of the leather become rigid. As a consequence, it makes water absorption slower. 

On the contrary, in the summer, a baseball’s warm or saline water can expedite water absorption, which can lead the baseball to sink sooner. 

Types of Baseball: Which One Sinks Faster?

Here are a few types of baseball with slightly different construction and behavior:

Baseball TypeDuration to Float
New BaseballLess than an hour
Used BaseballSeventy Minutes
Synthetic BaseballDoes not sink
Types of Baseball

Used Leather Baseball

Some players like to practice their game with used baseballs. It is true that baseball is good for practice. But how long can it float in the water? A used baseball floats for approximately 70 minutes in water.

Synthetic Leather Baseball

If you own a bucket full of used baseballs, you can try out this experience.

Have a few baseballs made of different leathers. Put it in the water bucket that consists of at least 5 gallons of water.

As a result, you will find that the ones with synthetic covers won’t sink under the water.

New Baseball 

Most baseball teams prefer to carry on their match with new baseball. 

But one thing here you need to notice: If you put the new ball in a bucket full of the same amount of water, it will sink within an hour. 

Understand Splash Hits in Baseball 

In baseball, a “splash hit” is a thrilling and somewhat uncommon event that usually occurs in stadiums featuring bodies of water, like McCovey Cove at Oracle Park, home of the San Francisco Giants.

When a hitter hits a baseball with such force that it soars over the outfield wall and into the nearby body of water, this occurrence takes place. 

But what is Splash Hit? It is a rare event that only occurs if a batter hits the baseball and it soars over the outfield wall into the nearby body of water.

Respecting and honoring the late Giants Willie McCovey, McCovey is the most well-known splash-hit site.  The ball produces a tremendous splash as it hits the lake when a hitter launches a baseball over the wall and into the cove.

Some Important Tips for Dry-Waterlogged Baseball

Air Drying

The easiest way is to air-dry the baseball. Simply put it under the sun and let the water evaporate with time. Make sure to rotate the baseball for even drying.

Towel Drying 

Another simple way is to pat the baseball dry. Take a soft towel and pat the baseball dry. Be gentle when you do it. Be careful and don’t overdo it since it may harm the cover of the baseball. 

Use A Fan 

Place your waterlogged baseball in front of a moving fan. Give it space to make sure it dries evenly. Wait until the baseball is fully dry. 

Resist Water Damage 

To make sure your baseball lasts longer and gives better performance, you need to keep it away from getting damaged by water.

Here are some useful ways you can apply for water damage prevention:

  • Use a bucket with a cover to store your baseball. That way, you can keep it safe even if it rains.
  • If possible, don’t play in the rainy weather. There is a high chance for your ball to get damaged if you play in a wet condition. 
  • Inspect your baseballs regularly. Check for damage and repair it immediately, if any.
  • If by any chance your baseball gets water-soaked, dry it well to avoid waterlogging. 
  • Use quality baseball covers to prevent water damage. 
  • When playing indoors, if possible, try to control the humid environment. As humidity may cause water damage to your baseball,

Final Thoughts

Baseball is a popular game that stays in the hearts of a huge number of its fans. Being America’s popular sport, this comes with many significant factors.

When you think of a ball, it’s very common to think that it will sink the moment you put it in the water. 

In the case of baseball, it’s not true at all. Depending on the mechanism and type, a baseball can remain afloat for a significant period of time.

Frequently Asked Questions


Does a baseball float on water?

Yes, it does. Depending on the quality and type of the baseball, it can float on water. Baseball with synthetic leather stays afloat the best.

How Many Baseballs Are Used in a Game?

Usually, eight to ten dozen baseballs are used in a single game. In Major League Baseball, normally 84–120 baseballs are used in a game.

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Behind Best Darn Product is Kevin Pena, a passionate blogger and e-commerce enthusiast based in Atlanta, Georgia. With his finger on the pulse of the ever-growing online marketplace, Kevin is dedicated to sharing his extensive knowledge and genuine enthusiasm for the products and services that shape our modern lives.

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