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Oklahoma Agriculture in the Classroom

Agricultural Facts

Agriculture in Sports

Agriculture in Sports


  • The ancient Romans played a game similar to the game we know as baseball with balls made from strips of animal hide wrapped around reeds or wild grasses.
  • An official baseball used in the major leagues today has a core made from four long strands of high quality wool. The core is surrounded by rubber or cork and covered with two pieces of white horse or cow hide, which is stitched together with exactly 216 stitches. Lower quality baseballs have cores made from cotton yarn.
  • An official baseball bat is a smooth round stick made of one piece of solid wood. It must be no more than 2 3/4 inches in diameter at the thickest part and no more than 42 inches long. The best bats are made from the wood of northern ash trees.
  • Bats break very easily near the handle or near the bat's trademark. There are no official records, but Bo Jackson may hold the record for bats broken intentionally.
  • The first official baseball uniform, adopted in 1849 by the Knickerbocker Base Ball Club of New York City, was a simple outfit consisting of a white flannel shirt, blue wool pants and a straw hat. Later hats were made of merino wool or wool flannel.
  • In 1903, Spalding introduced the "Philadelphia Style" cap, which featured an innovative first: the stitched visor. The subtle addition resulted in a longer-lasting cap that better retained its shape. By the end of the decade, nearly every baseball cap featured the stitched bill.
  • The Cincinnati Red Stockings introduced knickers to the baseball uniform in 1868 Club president Aaron Champion later recalled, "The showing of the manly leg in varied-colored hose ‚Ķ [was] unheard of, and when [team captain] Harry Wright occasionally appeared with the scarlet stockings, young ladies' faces blushed as red, and many high-toned members of the club denounced the innovation as immoral and indecent."
  • In baseball's early days, the dyes used in stockings were not colorfast, so a spike wound could easily get an unhealthy dose of colored dye. Wearing a white stocking underneath the colored hose would help eliminate the problem, but the double thickness of socks meant that a player's shoe no longer fit properly. The solution, introduced during the first decade of the 20th century, was the colored stirrup stocking. The innovative sock allowed for a protective layer of material around the leg but a single thickness of material in the shoe.
  • Early baseball shoes were made from cotton canvas. Later shoes were made from calfskin for its greater durability. Some of the early shoes were actually made from kangaroo leather.


  • The ancient Aztecs played a form of basketball with a hoop placed on the side of a wall. They used a crude leather ball.
  • Basketball as we know it was invented in 1891 by the Canadian clergyman, educator, and physician James Naismith. Naismith introduced the game when we was an instructor at the Young Men's Christian Association Training School (now Springfield College) in Springfield, Massachusetts.
  • Goals in the first basketball games were two wooden peach baskets affixed to the walls. The first balls were soccer balls, and most early games were played on dance floors.
  • Nearly all basketballs have an inflatable inner rubber bladder, generally wrapped in layers of fiber and then covered with a tacky surface made either from leather (traditional), rubber, or a synthetic composite.
  • The outer covering for a basketball is traditionally made from leather. In 2006, the National Basketball Association switched back to leather balls after trying synthetic balls for less than a year.
  • The circumference of a basketball is between 75 and 78cm (29.5 and 30.25 in) and its weight between 600 and 650gm (20 and 22oz). It should be inflated to a pressure so that when it is dropped from a height of 1.8m (6ft) (measured from the floor to the bottom of the ball) on to the playing surface, it will rebound to a height of between 1.2 and 1.4m (4ft and 4ft 7in), (measured to the top of the ball).
  • In professional or organized basketball, especially when played indoors, the floor is usually made out of a highly polished hardwood, often maple.
  • Northern hard maple is the preferred wood for basketball floors. Trees grown north of the 38th parallel have shorter growing seasons and produce maple wood with closer, more uniform grain.
  • The floor of the Eddie Sutton Court in OSU's Gallagher-Iba Arena is made of white maple. It is the oldest basketball court in use and was retained when the arena was remodeled in 2000.
  • OSU's Gallagher-Iba arena was originally built in 1938 as the "4-H Clubs and Student Activities Building." After a 4-H member was injured when the big tent used for a statewide gathering collapsed, 4-H members lobbied for money to build a facility that would be host for their convention every year. Henry Bennett, then president of Oklahoma A&M, had also been lobbying for money for a new athletic facility, but with no success.


  • American football is a version of Rugby, possibly originating in 1820 at Princeton University with an informal game called "ballown." Rules were developed for intercollegiate play after the Civil War. Within a decade, concern over the increasing brutality of the game led to its ban by some colleges. Nearly 180 players had suffered serious injuries, and eighteen deaths had been reported from the brutal mass plays that had become common in practice. In 1905, President Theodore Roosevelt called upon Harvard, Princeton, and Yale to help save the sport from demise by developing rules to make the game safer.
  • The rectangular football playing field is 120 yards long and 53-1/3 yards wide (300 feet by 160 feet). The end lines and sidelines are 4 inches wide and rimmed by a solid white border a minimum of 6 feet wide. The goal lines are 10 yards inside at each end of the field.
  • An Americal football is a prolate spheroid. This means that its axis of symmetry is longer than its other axes. An M&M candy, on the other hand, is an oblate spheroid. Its axis of symmetry is shorter than its other axes.
  • Footballs are made of four pieces of leather stitched together. A football has a rubber lining, which is inflated to an air pressure of 12 1/2 to 13 1/2 pounds per square inch (0.88 to 0.95 kilogram per square centimeter). The ball weighs 14 to 15 ounces (397 to 425 grams). Leather laces along one seam provide a grip for holding and passing the ball.
  • American footballs derive from English Rugby balls. These were originally made from pig's bladders which were blown up by mouth, with the help of a clay pipe stem inserted into the bladder. The bladder had to be inflated while it was in a green smelly state. It was then covered with oil or surrounded by four panels of cowhide.The pig's bladders were later replaced by bladders made from India rubber. Earlier footballs were more spherical in shape. The spheroid shape was adopted because it made the ball easier to grasp.
  • Until the 1950s, football helmets were made from leather.


  • The earliest golf balls, dating back to Roman times, were made of smoothly carved boxwood.
  • Wood balls were in fashion until the 1600s when they were replaced by golf balls called "featheries". Featheries were made of boiled goose feathers stuffed tightly within a stitched cowhide casing. The ball became very hard as the feathers dried.
  • Gutta-percha balls began replacing featheries around 1848. These balls were made from dried gum of the Malaysian sapodilla tree.
  • In 1898, a three-piece rubber-core ball was invented. It consisted of lengths of rubber yarn stretched around a rubber core.
  • The three-piece, balata-covered ball was the newest and most costly invention. It consists of a liquid center, a polyurethane interlayer, and a synthetic balata cover.
  • Golf balls have dimples because when they are hit, they spin as fast as eight thousand revolutions per minute. As the ball spins, the dimpled surface traps a layer of air that rotates with the ball, like a small whirlwind around the ball's surface. Without dimples, the ball would travel only about three-fourths as far.


  • The world's largest spectator sport is football, but it's not the football we know best in Oklahoma. In most of the world what we know as soccer is called football. Soccer is played on all five continents.
  • Soccer fields are the toughest of all turf areas to manage. Season-long traffic in all types of weather can destroy a field, and the playing schedule rarely allows for the aggressive turf management practices that are absolutely essential to keep grass alive. Soccer fields must be constructed and managed properly to provide adequate turf, while minimizing the chance of injury to players.
  • A soccer field is between 90 m (100 yds) and 120 m (130 yds) long and between 45 m (50 yds) and 90 m (100 yds) wide. In international matches the field is between 100 m (110 yds) and 110 m (120 yds) long and between 64 m (70 yds) and 75 m (80 yds) wide
  • An official soccer match ball is spherical and made of leather or other suitable material. It is of a circumference of not more than 70 cm (28 ins) and not less than 68 cm (27 ins). It is no more than 450 g (16 oz) in weight and not less than 410 g (14 oz) at the start of the match.
  • The traditional soccer ball's outer covering consists of 12 pentagons and 20 hexagons of leather sewn together.
  • Maradona - one of the world's great soccer players - learned his skill using a knotted bundle of cloth rags.


  • For the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens, approximately 12 million¬†meals were served from a 42,000 square foot kitchen to 22,000 athletes, team officials, Olympic and Paralympic Family, workforce, technical officials, accredited media, sponsors and spectators. 50,000 meals were served on a daily basis (6,000 meals per hour) from 1,500 international recipes, using 100 tons of food daily and creating 55 tons of waste. The following supplies were used: 15,000 lt of milk; 2,500 dozen eggs; 300 tons of fruits and vegetables; 120 tons of meats; 85 tons of seafood; 25,000 loafs of bread; 750 lt tomato sauce; 2 million litres of potable water.
  • The red clay used for the home plate area, pitcher's mound, base paths and warning track is available only in the U.S. and had to be shipped to Greece for the 2004 Summer Olympic games. The clay has a special red color that could not be manufactured in Athens.In the earliest Olympics, sporting competition went alongside trade fairs and business deals. This was acknowledged in 19th century Greece when the first modern attempts were made to revive the Olympics. The "Zappian Olympics", as they became known after wealthy organiser Evangelos Zappas, were the bridge between the ancient and modern Olympics, and took place in Greece between 1859 and 1875. It was the first real international sporting competition, but officially it was about far more than sport. Greek politicians of the time felt that nations were no longer competing primarily in sport, but in agriculture and manufacturing. It was decided, then, that these new Olympics ought to be as much about competing in industry as in sport. The sports events were highly popular, but in terms of funding and regularity were of a lower priority than the commercial side, which concentrated on the demonstration of agricultural and industrial inventions.


  • Allie P. Reynolds Stadium - Home of the OSU Cowboy Baseball Team - is the only NCAA team in the country planted with Rivera bermudagrass, a grass developed at Oklahoma State University. Some NCAA football teams use it, but OSU is the only school to use it on their baseball field. Rivera works well on sports fields because it is agressive, tough and heals fast.
  • Bricktown Ballpark and the University of Oklahoma's Memorial Stadium have natural grass playing fields. OSU's Cowboy Football Team practices on natural grass but plays on artificial turf.