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Manufacture of Base Balls Begins in NYC

Salience Noteworthy
Tags Equipment
Location Greater New York City
City/State/Country: NYC, NY, United States
Game Base Ball

[A] "Prior to the mass manufacturing of baseballs, each one was hand-made and consisted of strips of rubber twisted around a round shape (or, earlier, any solid substance, such as a rock or bullet), covered [wound?] with yarn and then with leather or cloth. Needless to say, the quality and consistency of the early balls varied considerable. In the mid-1850s, two men, Harvey Ross, a sail maker who was a member of the Atlantics, and John Van Horn, a shoemaker who was a member of the Union Club or Morrisania, began to manufacture baseballs on a regular basis. Van Horn took rubber strips from the old shoes in his shop and cut them up to provide the centers for his baseballs."

[B] Peter Morris notes that Henry Chadwick recalled that "even with only two ball makers, the demand [for balls] in the 1850s was so limited" that ballmaking remained a sidelight for both ballmakers.


William Ryczek, Baseball's First Inning (McFarland, 2009), page 35. For more details, Bill recommends Chapter 9 of Peter Morris' A Game of Inches (Ivan Dee, 2006).

Peter Morris, A Game of Inches, page 397. He cites the March 13, 1909 Sporting Life and the 1890 Spalding's Official Base Ball Guide as sources.

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Submitted by Bill Ryczek


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