The baseball and the puck – two spherical objects used in beloved American pastimes. Though similar in shape, they differ greatly in size, weight, materials, and purpose. In this article, we will explore 10 key differences between the baseball ball and the hockey puck.
The 10 Big Differences
- A baseball is much larger and heavier than a puck.
- Baseballs are made of leather and cork, while pucks are vulcanized rubber.
- Baseballs bounce well off the ground, but pucks do not.
- Baseballs are thrown by hand, while pucks are shot with a hockey stick.
- Baseballs travel faster than pucks when hit or thrown.
- Baseball can be safely caught barehanded, but catching a puck barehanded risks injury.
- Baseballs are replaced frequently during games, while pucks last entire games.
- Baseballs have red laces/stitching, while pucks have no laces or stitching.
- Baseballs serve primarily as the ball in the sport, while pucks also act as a striker.
- Baseballs can be autographed as collectibles, while pucks cannot due to their hard surface.
Now let’s explore these differences in more detail.
Difference in weight
A regulation baseball weighs around 5 ounces or 142 grams. In contrast, a standard NHL hockey puck weighs between 5 and 6 ounces, with official pucks weighing around 6 ounces or 170 grams.
So a puck is nearly 20% heavier than a baseball.
The extra weight of the small puck helps it slide better across the icy surface of a hockey rink. Lighter pucks tend to be unpredictable and difficult to control.
Difference in size
While a baseball has a circumference between 9 and 9.25 inches, a hockey puck is only 1 inch thick and 3 inches in diameter.
This makes a baseball nearly 3 times the size of a puck.
The baseball’s larger size requires two hands to comfortably throw and catch it. The puck’s small size allows players to easily control it with a hockey stick.
Difference in bounce
The materials and construction of the two balls result in very different bouncing behavior. When dropped, a baseball bounces well off the ground, while a puck barely bounces at all.
The elastic wound core of a baseball stores energy when it hits the ground, resulting in a bounce almost as high as the initial drop.
In contrast, the dense rubber of a puck absorbs energy on impact, producing little to no bounce. This lack of bounce helps the puck slide across the ice.
Baseballs consist of a cork and rubber center wrapped in yarn and covered with stitched leather. Pucks are made from vulcanized rubber.
Baseball’s materials provide the right combination of elasticity, durability, and grip. The rubber puck is designed to slide across ice and absorb hard impacts from sticks and boards.
History of both balls
The baseball dates back to the 18th century and evolved with the sport. The earliest baseballs were made by hand winding yarn around a cork core.
Modern baseballs still use a similar construction but with precise manufactured materials and consistency.
The hockey puck emerged in the late 19th century with early pucks made of wood.
Rubber pucks were developed in the 1940s and quickly became standard as they performed better on ice. The first NHL game used rubber pucks in the 1955-56 season.
Speed they travel
When struck well, both balls can travel extremely fast, but baseballs generally reach higher speeds. The average major league fastball reaches 90-100 mph.
Some pitchers can throw over 105 mph. The hardest recorded baseball pitch is 105.1 mph by Aroldis Chapman in 2010.
The hardest hockey shot is about 113 mph. But average puck speeds in games are 70-90 mph. Slap shots may reach 100 mph.
During a hockey game, the puck is in motion less than 10 minutes out of 60 minutes due to play stoppages.
How fast is a serve?
In tennis, a baseball can be served at high speeds using an underhand motion. The record for fastest baseball pitch is 69 mph.
In hockey, players use hockey sticks to shoot the pucks across the ice. Speeds vary based on the type of shot. Wrist shots travel 45-60 mph, snap shots reach up to 70 mph, and slap shots can exceed 100 mph.
What is the World Record Speed of both?
As mentioned above, the world record for fastest baseball pitch is 105.1 mph by Aroldis Chapman.
For hockey, the fastest shot belongs to Denis Kulyash of Russia, who hit a puck at 110.3 mph in the 2017 KHL All-Star Skills Competition.
How both compare to balls from other sports
A baseball is slightly smaller than a softball (11-12 inches in circumference) and larger than a tennis ball (2.5-2.7 inches). It is much larger than a golf ball (1.68 inches).
A hockey puck is similar in size to a lacrosse ball (2.5 inches) but much thicker and heavier. A puck is larger than balls used in table hockey/foosball (1.2 inches).
The best makes of balls for either sport
For baseballs, Rawlings is considered the gold standard.
Major League Baseball has used Rawlings exclusively since 1977. The pro-preferred Rawlings baseballs offer premium leather, cork, and winding for optimal performance.
For hockey, brands like Franklin and InGlasco are highly regarded for pucks. Their vulcanized rubber pucks consistently deliver the right weight, friction, and durability sought by pros and amateurs alike.
Best ways to store or maintain the balls
Baseballs will last longer if stored in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight, which can weaken the threads and leather over time. Rotating stock helps ensure even wear and consistent performance.
Hockey pucks require less maintenance—simply store at room temperature away from chemical fumes that could degrade the rubber. Inspect pucks occasionally for cracks or breaks that indicate replacement is needed.
How a new one compares to an older one.
A new baseball right out of the wrapper feels slicker and harder than a broken-in ball. With use, the leather softens and the ball compresses more on impact. Many pitchers prefer broken-in balls for better grip and control.
New hockey pucks may feel slick before being “scuffed up.” Use roughens the surface, creating more friction for better traction on the ice. So older, scuffed pucks often grip the ice better for shots and passes.
In summary, the baseball and hockey puck share a similar spherical shape but differ greatly in materials, size, weight and purpose. The baseball’s large size, bounce, and tactile feel make it perfect for America’s pastime. And the puck’s dense rubber construction allows it to slide smoothly across the ice in the fast-paced game of hockey.