One of the great things about team sports is that they are all unique. From baseball to football to soccer, sports all require a different set of skills and abilities. They all have their exciting moments, whether it's a slam dunk in basketball or an overtime goal in lacrosse. These sports all have some similarities, too. On the surface, they all use balls as the main piece of equipment. And while this may seem like a boring observation, these pieces of equipment have some pretty interesting stories behind them:
Tennis: A tennis ball is immediately recognizable by its bright green/yellow color and it's soft, fuzzy surface. Tennis balls have a good amount of bounce and new balls are preserved in pressurized cans. When you peel the top off of a new can of tennis balls, the sound that it makes is the pressure escaping from the can. Balls start losing their bounce immediately after the can is opened. Tennis balls come in many colors, but professional organizations began using the fluorescent yellow/green color in the 1970s when studies showed the color made the ball easy to follow on television.
Baseball: A baseball looks like a simple piece of equipment, but it's actually quite complex. At the center is a rubber cork, which is wrapped in yarn and encased in leather and sewn up. Pitchers are able to use the sewing stitches to grip the ball and throw different pitches. It has been said that the yarn inside the ball can be up to a mile long! Also, the more tightly the yarn is wound, the farther the ball will travel. In the big leagues, players hit more home runs in some years than in others. Some people say this is because during that season, the balls are all wound tighter. There is also a story that says every ball put into play in a big league game is rubbed with a special type of mud, found only along the banks of the Delaware River in New Jersey.
Football: You may have heard somebody refer to a football as"pigskin." That's because in the old days, people used to make footballs out of the hide of a pig! Today they are made of leather, and tanned a natural brown color. Most organized football leagues require the balls to be this color. In the 1920s, one college team supposedly made their jerseys the same exact color of the ball, so that the opposing team would have trouble figuring out which player had the ball!
Golf: In this very, very old sport, the golf ball has seen an amazing evolution. The first golf balls, used hundreds of years ago, were made of wood. Eventually players started using leather balls stuffed with goose feathers! Today, the balls have a solid rubber core surrounded by a thin, dimpled shell that helps the balls fly straight through the air.
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