Why Do Catchers Change Balls?

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Originally, baseball started in England before it transcended into the US. It soon became a favorite game for so Many people. Baseball is a game played with a bat and ball between two teams of nine players. A player from one team throws the ball to the other player from the opposing team, who then attempts to hit back the ball. Let us know ‘Why Do Catchers Change Balls?’.

Why Do Catchers Change Balls?

Why Do Catchers Change Balls?

Before knowing the real reason why the umpire changes the ball at intervals during the game, many people, especially basketball enthusiasts, wondered why the baseball gets changed with another clean ball during play. One of the things considered was that the catchers had too many balls as extra, or they were choosy to change. 

The umpires do not change balls in-between games for no cause. Getting the ball scuffed up has been a regular practice for pitchers since the inception of the baseball game until a remarkable incident that claimed the life of one of the players in August 1920 made the MLB change the rule of the game.

If you are curious and want answers to this and many more, you might want to keep reading. You will find the answers in this Article

The MLB rule 3.01

Rule 3.01, stated by the MLB, says that on no condition should any player deliberately discolor or get the ball soiled in any substance, be it rosin, soil, paraffin, licorice, or the like. If this happens, the umpire must discard the ball and remove the offending player for breaking the rule of the game. The MLB rule says that the offender would get banned from 10 games.

The Real Reason Behind the Rule

A game was played between the New York Yankees and the Cleveland Indians in August 1920. What seemed like a great match between the two teams turned out to be a sad day for everyone. Carl Mays, a player from the Yankees team, threw a shot that killed one of the players from the other team, Ray Chapman.

It is not uncommon to see pitchers get the ball into dirt and liquids of all kinds. The story goes that Mays had probably soiled the ball in the mud. 

Chapman hadn’t seen the ball properly when Mays threw the shot. Instead of catching the ball, it hit Chapman on the head and resulted in Chapman having a fractured skull. He was taken to the hospital, where he died eventually afterward. The argument was that if Mays had used a clean ball, Chapman would have had a better view of the ball and couldn’t have gotten hit

After Chapman died, the MLB then reviewed their rules and added the 3.01 law that forbade any player to distort the physical appearance of the baseball. If anyone is found breaking the rules, they should be penalized by suspending them from upcoming games

The Catcher’s Mitts

Apart from the baseball gloves often worn by catchers, there are also the mitts. They serve similar uses. Mitts are essential equipment that catchers should have because they help to protect the hands from injury during pitching. In the case of two hands, they can be used for pop fly balls drills that require both hands.

Asides from that, the mitts also help to provide an insulation ground for the ball as it keeps the baseball from bouncing away when it hits the dirt.

Three Instances Where the Ball is Taken out During a Game?

The MLB rules provide three reasons the ball should be replaced with a brand new one during a game. These instances are non-negotiable and must be adhered to.

  • Balls are replaced when hit out of play

The MLB rule states that any ball that leaves the field during the game must never return, once batted out, cannot be taken back and must be replaced with a new one; this rule also applies to foul balls

  • When the Ball Becomes Discoloured or Dirty

Using a discolored or dirty ball is not acceptable by the MLB. It is required that the catcher hands over the ball to the umpire for replacement. It is why umpires carry pouches full of balls. They are ever ready to throw a new ball into the field.

  • Balls are Changed Upon Request by Pitchers 

The rule also gives a pitcher the room to request a new ball if they so desire. There is no stated reason for doing this, but it’s part of the provision that the umpire must introduce a new ball on request.


The MLB set up these rules of  catchers change the balls not because they want to be mean but to ensure the safety of the players. Using a dirty, scuffed, unfit ball for a game endangers the player’s life. Take Chapmap’s case as an instance; his death could have been an avoidable one if proper care had been taken. It is advised that every player keeps to these rules to avoid sanctions and, most importantly, protect themselves from being hurt


Are the discarded baseballs reused for another game?

Discarded balls are not reused once taken out, as this is against the rule of the game; instead, they are taken to the MLB shops and sold there, or they can be sold online or kept as a Memorabilia 

What is the Estimated Amount of Balls used in a game?

The estimated amount of balls used in each MLB game is about eight to ten dozen. It is because once the ball hits the dirt, It becomes discolored ans removed; a player may also request a new ball during the game. A new baseball is introduced at every half – innings

What is the number of balls an umpire carries?

Every umpire carries about six balls in their pouch. Since the balls are changed at intervals during the game, the balls must be ready on standby to avoid slowing down the game. The umpires should carry just enough hops to last the game

Why Do Catchers Wear Nail Polish?

Catchers have a colored nail on for accessible communication with the pitchers during play. It is believed that a brightly colored pin would help the catcher see the signal or the instruction being passed across from the pitcher, even from a far distance.

Why Do Catchers Change Balls?
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