How It Works: The NCAA's New Flat-Seamed Baseball

Better aerodynamics leads to more home runs

Baseball Aerodynamics

Illustration By Don Foley

For more than 100 years, the baseball has remained more or less unchanged. This spring, college players will start their season with a new design. With seams that rise to only 0.031 inches, the ball shaves 0.017 inches off the standard seam height. Flatter seams make for a smaller wake and less drag, so a strong hit will send the new ball 20 feet farther than a standard one. For players, that means more home runs. For the NCAA, it means more exciting games and, hopefully, more spectators.

This article was originally published in the April 2015 issue of Popular Science, as part of our annual How It Works package.