August 29, 2013
By LOU PAVLOVICH, JR.
A flat seam baseball could be mandatory for NCAA Division I baseball tournament games as early as the 2015 season if coaches show support for it in upcoming voting that will take place by the American Baseball Coaches Association.
NCAA Division I Baseball Committee rules currently require that a raised seam ball be used for Division I tournament play.
Because of that, all NCAA Division I schools use the raised seam ball in their practices and games.
The NCAA now has researchers testing raised seam vs. flat seam college certified baseballs with a COR performance limit of .555 to determine what the “drag effect” is of both balls and if the flat seam ball flies further, according to Dave Keilitz, executive director of the ABCA.
“It will be interesting to see what NCAA researchers come up with,” said Keilitz.
“If the raised seam ball goes 350 feet, will the flat seam ball go 355 feet, 360 feet or further because it has less drag in the seams? Currently we don’t know the answer.
“They are nearing the end of their study and will then do some field testing with the ball before finalizing their conclusions,” said Keilitz.
“I have suggested that everything be finalized by the end of September.”
At that point, Keilitz plans on sending the results to NCAA Division I head coaches so they can vote in a survey for the raised seam ball or flat seam ball.
“Based upon the input, I will then report the desires of our coaches to the NCAA Division I Baseball Committee for discussion and possible action at their November meeting,” said Keilitz.
“I believe the committee will side with the desires of our coaches. If coaches decide to have a flat seam ball, it is an easy transition.
“All the major ball companies (Diamond, Rawlings and Wilson) produce the ball and have indicated to me it would not be an additional cost to schools. If the flat seam ball is adopted by the NCAA, the earliest date of implementation would be the 2014-2015 school year.”
What is not on the table for testing is the minor league specification flat seam baseball since neither the NCAA Rules Committee nor the NCAA Division I Baseball Committee has any interest in using it for tournament games at this time with the higher maximum .578 COR performance level.
According to Keilitz, previous testing showed significant differences in the distances balls travel that are approved for college and pro baseball.
“Previous research has shown that a minor league flat seam ball with a maximum COR of .578 hit 300 feet would go 20-25 feet further than a college (raised seam) ball with a maximum COR of .555,” said Keilitz.
That would translate to 26.6 to 33.3 feet further on a ball hit 400 feet with the minor league baseball.
Keilitz said that the cost per dozen for the minor league ball would run more than the college ball. The major league ball would be cost prohibitive to most schools at a cost of over $100 per dozen.
The complete article is in the Sept. 6, 2013 edition of Collegiate Baseball. To obtain this issue or subscribe, CLICK HERE.