Last week Thompson said what was really needed but never obtained was "exact duplicate scientific tests taken in various years. Then we'd have something." And he added candidly: "I think today's ball is probably livelier."
Last week Ward did precisely what Thompson said was necessary. He again tested new balls, and now he could compare results with '52-'53. He was supplied with a dozen new 1961 American League baseballs purchased directly from Spalding and delivered to Caldwell in a sealed box. Since the drop shaft at Cooper Union was not available, Ward constructed a three-story wooden scaffolding that would allow him to duplicate the exact conditions of previous tests. Once again a steel plate was set in concrete. On August 16, Ward and De-Salvo conducted their tests.
Much too heavy
First they weighed the balls. They used a laboratory balance sensitive to one-tenth of a gram, converting the grams into ounces. No sooner had they started than they had a surprise—the average weight of the 1961 baseball was 5.29 ounces. This was more than the 5.25 limit allowed in rule 1.09 of the Official Baseball Rules. One of the balls weighed an astonishing 5.42 ounces.
After weighing, Ward and DeSalvo sawed one ball in half for visual examination. Visually, the 1961 ball seemed no different from past balls. The remaining 11 balls were then dropped for rebound. Ward's report notes: "The average rebound for 33 drops was 8 feet 9� inches, with the rebound readings varying from a minimum of 8 feet 7 inches to a maximum of 9 feet 1 inch. A total of 21 [of the 33] rebounds was in excess of the 8-foot 9�-inch average.
"In the 1953 test program the average rebound for the 1952 baseball was 8 feet 0 inches and the average rebound for the 1953 ball was 8 feet 7� inches. Therefore, the average rebound of the 1961 baseball is 2% greater than the 1953 ball and 10% greater than the 1952 ball. Comparing the 9-foot 1-inch maximum rebound of the 1961 baseball, this maximum is 5.3% greater than the 1953 baseball average and 13.5% greater than the 1952 baseball average." A figure of 2%, 5.3% or even 13.5% may strike some as a small statistic, but in baseball, renowned as "the game of inches," 2% becomes a major distance. Because it adds at least six feet to any drive over 300 feet, many balls that would have been caught in 1953 fall into the stands for home runs in 1961.
Ward and DeSalvo also measured the baseballs across the three principal axes to the nearest tenth of a millimeter. They converted the millimeters to inches and determined the average circumference to be 9.05 inches, well within the regulation range of 9 to 9.25 inches.
Finally, the balls were compressed. The 1961 ball averaged 0.162 inches. Says the Ward report: "This average compression is to be compared to the 1953 testing series where the average compression under the same loading for the 1952 ball was recorded as 0.190 inches and for the 1953 ball 0.176 inches. Comparing average compressions, the 1961 baseball is 8% less compressible than the 1953 ball and 15% less compressible than the 1952 baseball.
"Examination of the compression data for the 1952, 1953 and 1961 baseballs will reveal that the compressions are becoming progressively smaller each successive year, further substantiating the increase in rebound characteristics over the same period of time."
Thus, the 1961 ball turns out to be heavier, bouncier and firmer.