Pitchers were given an adjustment in 1931. The baseball featured a thin rubber wrap around the cork center to deaden it slightly, and the seams of the ball were elevated, allowing pitchers to deliver stronger breaking balls to hitters. This change was made because many pitchers were abusing the speed of the game by using balls with dimples (for better control) and these new balls were more likely to get hit into plays.
Yes, baseballs do get thrown out after each use in order to keep the number of balls within the ballpark at a constant level. Before a game, the manager of the team that will be playing notes how many balls there are and informs the umpires accordingly. If too many balls are used, the team will be issued another set before the start of the game.
During a game, baseballs do get changed as needed. This is usually done by either a player or coach of one of the teams going into the dugout for a ball or balls from their own team's supply. They will then return to the field with a new ball. It should be noted that this process takes place very quickly - a player or coach might have only five or six seconds to find a new ball before entering the game.
The pitching distance was altered in 1893, and the box was replaced with the pitcher's rubber. Pitchers learned that allowing them to step downhill assisted them to gain greater speed on the ball, so their groundskeepers built them a mound.
They were also able to use the rubber as a platform from which to deliver tirades at umpires. This practice may have been popular among pitchers but it was not legal under the rules then in place. An owner could request that the mound be removed but since this would reduce the size of the field, most clubs declined. The box was returned in 1893 when it was realized that having pitchers stand on rocks or dirt helped them maintain their velocity during long starts.
In 1894, the National League adopted a new rule requiring all pitchers to wear gloves. Before this change, catchers often wore gloves but they are now required by law to participate in games as both players and coaches.
The requirement was introduced in response to complaints by fans and members of the media who felt that the lack of defense shown by many pitchers made baseball seem like a free-for-all rather than a game of skill. The rule was also designed to give managers an advantage by allowing them to replace a pitcher who was losing momentum before he lost his arm. However, this advantage was largely nullified by the fact that there were no real consequences for breaking this rule.
The National League, which was effectively the MLB at the time, abolished the pitcher's box on this day in 1893. Instead, they chose to lay a piece of rubber 60 feet out from home plate to establish the present pitching distance. (This decision was likely made to make baseball more appealing to women and children, who were not as interested in seeing pitchers work as men were.)
The American League followed suit a year later. Before that, all batters had been given equal opportunity to hit home runs by being allowed to step up into the box until 1887 when it was rescinded. The removal of the pitcher's box was intended to reduce injuries to pitchers who were often forced to endure violent pitches due to their presence behind the box. In addition, coaches believed that having the pitcher stand in the middle of the field helped his team maintain focus during games.
Although the move was done intentionally to make baseball more attractive to females and children, it also resulted in more offensive opportunities for hitters. Previously, teams only used nine players per game because there was no point in putting a pitcher in the game if you weren't going to use him. Now that teams could use any number of players per game, they began using pinch-hitters and extra outfielders to create opportunities for more hits.
Pitchers used to produce their own balls, according to a 1975 New York Times story. Knowing this, it's not surprising that Baseball-Reference.com recounts stories of baseballs that ranged in size and weight and were considerably softer than current balls. The National League was established in 1876. Pitchers didn't start manufacturing balls until about five years later.
According to the article, John Clarkson started making balls for pitchers in 1869. He reportedly charged $5 for a first-class ball and $3 for a second-class ball. Today, you can buy balls on Amazon for as low as $1.50 per ball.
The modern ball is made of leather, with some synthetic materials used in its place for less-expensive alternatives. Even though today's balls are mostly made by machines, some small manufacturers continue to make balls by hand in the United States.
Balls were originally made from natural materials such as cowhide or pigskin. In 1866, Charles Finley invented a machine called a "ball maker" that could turn out up to 100 balls per hour. This was a considerable improvement over previous methods of making balls by hand which could only make one ball per hour at best.
In 1877, E. G. Foster developed another significant advance in ball technology when he introduced the cork center. These balls were also made by hand but were much more durable than previous versions.