Friday, June 29, 2012

baseball history 101

A little bit of everything I bring to the BadLux table here..sports/new england/collecting junk etc. I actually learned about H. Harwood & Sons from a mural painted on the wall of a town not too far from my relatives. Which lead to more research and more collecting. The company is long gone, but the building still stands in town and has been converted to apartments.
H. Harwood & Sons, which was located in Natick, Massachusetts, was one of the earliest and most prominent manufacturers of baseballs and baseball equipment. In 1858 they built the first factory in the world dedicated to the manufacture of baseballs and, according to some accounts, H. Harwood & Sons was also the first company to mass-produce baseballs featuring the "figure-eight" cover design. This style cover did not become popular until the early 1870's. H. Harwood & Sons was later owned and operated by three successive generations of Harwood men, the factory was committed to “Make the Ball that Makes the Game,” the Official League Baseball. The center-wound balls with the figure-eight-stitched horsehide covers set the new standard for baseballs.
Prior to the opening of the Harwood factory nearly all baseballs were either homemade, with widely varying degrees of craftsmanship, or professionally made by skilled tradesmen, such as shoemakers. With the advent of mass production, a workstation specific to ball making was needed, and the offered bench was the final product. The bench is fairly simple in its construction. The worker sits facing the large wooden vise in front. The vise was used to hold the ball tightly in place while the worker stitched the cover on the ball. A metal foot lever, attached to the vise by means of a heavy leather strap, was used to adjust the tightness of the vise. The foot lever can lock into one of several slots to maintain the desired degree of tightness needed. The top part of the vise, which holds the ball, is padded with heavy leather, so as not to deform or harm the ball. One of the most interesting aspects regarding the history of baseball manufacture is that the method used to make balls in the late 1850s is virtually the same process used today. All of the official Major League baseballs in use today are still individually handmade by workers utilizing a bench similar to picture above

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