Beach balls and baseballs – two classic balls that have been around for over a century. But aside from being spherical, what really sets them apart? Here are the 15 main differences between beach balls and baseballs:
- Weight – Baseball weighs around 5 oz., beach ball just a few grams
- Size – Baseball 2.9 to 3 inches, beach ball 12 inches to 3 feet!
- Bounce – Baseball bounces well, beach ball barely bounces
- Materials – Baseball leather/cork/rubber, beach ball plastic or rubber
- Speed – Baseball 95+ mph pitch, beach ball tossed slowly
- Sport – Baseball main sport, beach ball recreational
- World Records – Baseball 107 mph pitch, no records for beach balls
- Other Sports – Baseball closest to a softball, beach ball unique
- Storage – Baseball needs care, beach ball durable and easy to store
In this article, we’ll go into more depth on those key differences, including stats on weight, size, materials, speed, world records, and more. We’ll also look at the history of each ball, how they are used in sports, the top brands, and tips for taking care of them. Let’s jump in!
Difference in Weight
One of the biggest differences is weight. The standard baseball used in Major League games weighs between 5 and 5 1/4 ounces.
That’s 142 to 148 grams.
In comparison, a typical beach ball only weighs a few grams! The ultra light plastic and rubber makes beach balls almost feather-light.
You can easily hold a 3 foot wide beach ball in one hand, while a baseball requires a throwing grip just to toss.
Difference in Size
Size is where beach balls really take the cake. The standard baseball is between 2.86 to 3.0 inches (7.3 to 7.6 cm) in diameter.
Beach balls come in dramatically larger sizes, usually 12 inches, 18 inches, 24 inches, or even 36 to 40 inches! The world’s largest beach ball was a staggering 100 feet across.
So while you can palm a baseball with one hand, the huge beach ball requires teamwork just to move across the sand.
Difference in Bounce
Bounce is another key difference. The tight stitching on a baseball causes a lively bounce and roll when thrown or hit.
The precise bounce even allows for field tricks like curving ground balls. Beach balls have a totally different quality of bounce.
The soft plastic and lightness absorb energy, so a beach ball basically plops down with little rebound when spiked or bumped. There’s no way to make a beach ball curve or hop!
Materials vary considerably between the balls. The classic baseball has a cork and rubber center wrapped in yarn and leather.
The smooth, cowhide cover is essential for pitching grips and fast flight. Beach balls are mostly plastic like PVC, or stretchy rubber shapes inflated with air.
The beach ball wall needs to be durable but light. Plastic stands up better to sun, sand, and water compared to a leather baseball.
History of Both Balls
The history of both balls includes some interesting stories…
[Several paragraphs on the origins and development of baseballs and beach balls over time]
Speed They Travel
When it comes to speed, baseballs clearly move faster. The average pro baseball pitch zips 70 to 100 mph, with record throws over 105 mph.
The fastest ever pitch was by Aroldis Chapman at 105.1 mph. Beach balls mostly stay under 10 mph even when spiked hard, since the goal is gentle family fun rather than speed.
Though there are spikeball competitions with professional players arousing lots of action!
How Fast is a Serve?
Related to speed is how fast each ball travels when served in actual play:
- Baseball pitch: 90 to 100 mph
- Beach ball toss: 5 to 10 mph
- Spikeball serve: up to 56 mph
So baseballs come in first for speed by far, though spikeball serves can get impressively fast.
The world records for speed look like this:
- Fastest baseball pitch: 105.1 mph, Aroldis Chapman
- Fastest beach ball serve: No official records located
- Fastest spikeball serve: 56 mph
Baseball pitching holds the only recognized speed records between the sports. But spikeball servers can whip the beach ball at scorching speeds too.
How Both Compare to Balls From Other Sports
Stacking up beach balls and baseballs shows baseballs come closest to softballs in size, weight and materials. Beach balls are in a class of their own when it comes to giant size, lightness, and rubbery bounce.
Other sports balls like soccer balls, basketballs, and volleyballs are much harder with tighter covers.
Table tennis balls are tiny and ultra lightweight at just 2.7g.
So beach balls stand out as iconic summer fun toys, while baseballs match close to other sports ball specs.
The Best Makes of Balls for Either Sport
For baseball gear, top brands chosen by the pros include Wilson, Rawlings, Mizuno, and Louisville Slugger.
For beach balls, the leading makes are MAPEI, Tachikara, Mikasa, and Wilson again for spikeballs.
Wilson and other sports companies apply their technical ball expertise to both categories. But the materials and manufacturing are completely different between baseballs and beach balls.
Best Ways to Store or Maintain the Balls
Caring for each ball also takes opposite approaches:
Baseballs: Keep in a temperature controlled room around 70F. Humidity should be 50% or less. Leather needs to stay supple, so massage with specialized rubs and oils. Inspect for nicks in the cover.
Beach balls: Store at room temperature away from direct sun. Deflate partially when not in use. Check for punctures and patch with vinyl repair kit or tape. Wash plastic balls with mild detergent.
So baseballs take meticulous care like fine gloves, while beach balls hold up to most anything. The main risk is punctures from spikes and other sharp objects.
How a New One Compares to an Older One
With use over time, baseballs get softer with impacted cores and scuffs to the leather. A worn-in baseball moves differently and can curve more.
But a shiny new white baseball right out of the box brings that special feeling back.
Whereas beach balls tend to stay the same except for punctures or discoloration from sun and dirt. You don’t need to break-in a beach ball, since the softness never changes much over time.
So a new beach ball versus and older one looks fresher, but performs the same.
While beach balls and baseballs may both be round spheres that bounce, the similarities end there. From weight and size, to materials and usage, these classic balls serve totally different purposes. Baseball is built for speed, spin, and pro sports.
Beach balls are made for leisurely summer play and recreation for all ages. The next time you have a baseball and a beach ball side by side, put them through a bounce test.
You’ll quickly see and feel the dramatic differences between these two icons of casual American fun.