"What is your process for re-creating historic baseball styles?"
The biggest motivating factor for me is authenticity in the craft. If a particular ball was sewn in a certain way, or if the ball was of a specific size and weight, I want to re-create that. Other details such as stitch count and thread weight and era-specific typography are also very important. I can’t do that without really great reference material. I’ve been fortunate to have very close friends and colleagues who have allowed me phenomenal access to world class collections.
When it comes to the early stuff, particularly the 19th into the early 20th century styles; the details may be small, but they make all of the difference. Take our Amateur Ball for instance. That style ball, with its uniquely designed one piece cover, was only used for a very short period of time when organized baseball was in its infancy. The teams were comprised of amateurs, but the equipment was beginning to being produced by professional craftsmen. Prior to that, most equipment was homemade. Even with a growing market to sell to in the 1860s, the professionally produced baseballs of the era are greatly outnumbered by the homemade equivalents. To find a professionally produced baseball from this era is incredibly rare. Again, through exceptional contacts, I’ve been able to study the originals and take very detailed notes of their size and construction. That direct observation and one-to-one comparison allows me to re-create the ball exactly as it would have looked when it was fresh from the supplier in 1860. The difference between a professionally made ball from 1860 versus a homemade ball from the same era is night and day. The cut and pattern of the leather on the Amateur ball is precise and the stitching is small and tight. Those details greatly separate a ball that was purchased from a supplier from ball that was homemade, some of which were not even uniformly round, never mind uniformly cut or sewn.
Those same observations are made on later examples as well. Our American Ball from Japan’s University League was greatly inspired through one to one observation of original 1920s era Japanese baseballs. Through detailing the original colors and weight of the stitching to the typographic styles and specific phrasing of the stamps, we are able to re-create something in a very similar fashion as the originals. The details extend to the packaging as well. Without good reference material we never would have known that Japanese baseballs were wrapped in a red foil. It all adds up to a beautiful object that is a faithfully inspired representation of the original.
Best of all, everything we make is built around the best materials we can buy, which means everything is made to be used and enjoyed. Go give it a wallop!