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Study claims imaging tests show larger rubber core

1/3/2007 - MLB

CLEVELAND -- A company that uses computer imaging claims
baseballs had a larger rubberized core and a synthetic rubber ring
in 1998, including the ball Mark McGwire hit for his 70th homer.

Universal Medical Systems Inc. said Wednesday that with the
assistance of Dr. Avrami S. Grader and Dr. Philip M. Halleck from
The Center for Quantitative Imaging at Penn State, it took images
of 1998 baseballs.

"Examining the CT images of Mark McGwire's 70th home run ball
one can clearly see the synthetic ring around the core -- or 'pill'
-- of the baseball," UMS president David Zavagno said. "While Mark
McGwire may or may not have used illegal steroids, the evidence
shows his ball -- under the governing body of the league -- was
juiced."

But Bob DuPuy, baseball's chief operating officer, said the core
of the ball has been unchanged for decades. Rawlings has been the
exclusive supplier of baseballs to the major leagues since 1977.

"All of our balls are subject to rigorous quality control
standards and testing conducted by Rawlings," DuPuy said. "No
changes have been made to the core of the ball through the entire
time they have manufactured it."

UMS specifically examined the ball McGwire hit for No. 70 -- a
record surpassed when Barry Bonds hit 73 homers in 2001. Zavagno
said the company tested about 35 baseballs in all.

McGwire is on the Hall of Fame ballot for the first time this
year, and results will be announced Tuesday by the Baseball
Writers' Association of America.

"The synthetic rubber ring of the modern-day baseball, in this
case that of Mark McGwire's prized 70th home run ball, acts as both
a spring and a 'stop,'" Zavagno said. "Much like a sling shot
pulled back 10 or 20 degrees farther than normal, the subsequent
restitution or rebound allows an object to fly faster and
farther."

Baseball spokesman Rich Levin said what UMS calls a rubber ring
is more like a cardboard washer.

"We are satisfied that the ball comports with all major league
specifications," DuPuy said. "Beginning in 2000, we have had
annual independent testing done by UMass at Lowell, baseball
research center, under the direction of Dr. James Sherwood, and
those tests have showed full compliance with standards."