Japan's standardized Baseballs are popular with Pitchers
by Brad Lefton, NY Times
TOKYO — Unlike Major League Baseball, for whom Rawlings has been the official supplier of baseballs since 1977, Japan’s top league has long used multiple manufacturers.
This season, however, for the first time in the 75-year history of Nippon Professional Baseball, every team is using the same supplier.
In any given season, as many as nine manufacturers had supplied baseballs to Japan’s 12 teams. Many clubs, in fact, contracted with multiple suppliers and freely switched the balls they used in their home games depending on the series, the month or some other variable that had to be revealed in advance to the commissioner’s office.
Citing rising costs and declining domestic production, Commissioner Ryozo Kato began the tedious and touchy process of unifying Japan’s ball last year. Mizuno emerged as the lone supplier.
But old customs are hard to break, and in tradition-bound Japan, the move to a unified ball comes with a twist: it is required only for official games played between major league teams. Individual clubs can continue choosing their own baseballs for minor league games, spring training games and practices. According to the commissioner’s office, at least two teams that contracted with multiple baseball makers last year, the Hanshin Tigers and the Yakult Swallows, continue to use those balls in unsanctioned events.
Read the complete article at www.nytimes.com
(From IBAF Website)