Bowling balls and baseballs are both used in popular ball sports, but they are engineered quite differently. Here are 11 ways bowling balls and baseballs differ:
- Weight – Bowling balls are 15+ pounds versus 5-5.25 ounces for baseballs.
- Size – Baseball’s 2.9 inch diameter is much smaller than 8.5 inch bowling balls.
- Bounce – Baseball’s low bounce differs from the dead blow of bowling balls.
- Materials – Plastic and resin bowling balls versus leather baseballs with cork or yarn.
- History – Ancient Egyptian bowling versus baseball growing in the 1800s.
- Speed – Baseball’s fastball up to 100+ mph versus rolling 20 mph bowling balls.
- Throwing – Bowling underhand rolls versus baseball overhand pitching.
- Records – Baseball’s record pitch is 105 mph versus 29 mph bowling speed record.
- Care – Oil bowling balls while keeping baseballs in climate control.
- Brands – Brunswick, Ebonite lead bowling balls while Rawlings, Wilson, Miken dominate baseballs.
- Aging – Baseball loses pop but bowling balls maintain performance.
In this article, we’ll compare and contrast these specialized sport balls to show how their designs perfectly suit their unique games!
Difference in Weight
The most noticeable difference is bowling balls are extremely heavy at over 15 pounds on average so they can roll powerfully down the lane.
Baseballs are featherlight at around 5 ounces so they can be pitched and hit precisely.
The huge weight difference results in totally different play experiences.
Difference in Size
Along with varied weights is a major size difference.
Bowling balls have large 8.5 inch diameters so they make a big target to aim for down the lane.
Baseballs are very compact at less than 3 inches across so they can be thrown with different pitches and batted for distance.
Difference in Bounce
The weight and size give bowling balls and baseballs completely different bounces.
Baseballs have some slight bounce off the bat and field for game strategy, while bowling balls have a dead blow with no bounce whatsoever to precisely knock down pins.
So baseballs bounce while bowling balls thud directly into their target.
The bounce comes from the contrasting materials used to make each ball.
Bowling balls use hard molded plastics and resins surrounded by a slick outer shell for straight hard rolls.
Baseballs have tightly wound yarn centers wrapped in leather or synthetic hide which provides some elasticity and liveliness off the bat.
So bowling balls are rigid while baseballs have some sponginess.
History of Both Balls
These specialized balls also have very different origins:
Bowling dates back over 5,000 years ago to ancient Egypt and was done with stone balls.
Baseball grew in popularity in the mid-1800s as more modern rubber production enabled mass production.
So bowling truly preceded baseball in human history!
Speed They Travel
In terms of speed, bowling balls roll along the lane at moderate speeds while baseballs soar at blistering velocities:
Bowling balls usually travel between 15-20 mph based on the bowler’s strength and lane conditions.
Baseballs fly 90+ mph off the bat when hit and exceed 100 mph when pitched by pros.
So baseballs move several times faster than bowling balls.
How Fast is a Serve?
Serving the ball, bowlers use slow controlled underhand rolls while baseball pitchers whip overhand heat:
Bowlers roll balls under 15 mph using gentle lofting technique to hit the pins at ideal angles.
Baseball pitching records exceed 100 mph using full-power overhand throwing.
Again, baseball serves dominate bowling for velocity.
What is the World Record Speed of Both?
Baseball’s speed records blow bowling out of the water:
The fastest bowling ball was rolled 29 mph by Russell Klein back in 2014.
Aroldis Chapman pitched a record 105.1 mph baseball.
So baseballs triples bowling speeds at the highest levels!
How Both Compare to Balls from Other Sports
Compared to other balls, there are no others quite like bowling and baseballs:
- Bowling balls have unmatched heft for controlled rolling.
- Baseball has a unique lively lightness perfect for batting and pitching.
The two ball types differ completely from common balls in sports like soccer, basketball, tennis, and more that are designed for very different athletic uses.
The Best Brands of Balls
For bowling, major companies are Brunswick, Ebonite, Hammer while Rawlings, Wilson, Miken lead baseball brands.
In both sports, these top brand names are trusted for optimal performance and durability.
For casual recreational use, generic brands can suffice and save money over the premium balls.
Best Ways to Store or Maintain the Balls
Bowling balls are oiled and polished to retain an optimal slick surface for rolling down the lane.
Baseballs are humidity controlled and kept at consistent temperatures to prevent shrinking or swelling over time.
So each ball requires special care for peak performance.
How a New Ball Compares to an Old One
Brand new out of the box balls always grip the lane or bat better and have maximum power transfer versus old worn out balls:
New bowling balls roll true versus worn balls that curve unpredictably.
A fresh baseball really pops off the bat while an old one feels dead.
In competitive play, new balls are a must!
In summary, bowling balls and baseballs differ remarkably in size, weight, materials, bounce, speed, and care to perfectly suit their specialized sport contexts. The varied engineering allows for entirely different athletic experiences across the bowling lane and baseball diamond. Given these substantial differences, make sure to use the right ball for your desired sport and level of play!