Inventors don't work in isolation, and at USMC the development process was both shared and well documented through notebooks, memos, drawings and photographs. We are fortunate to have this documentation in the Archives Center. The baseball stitching project was a team effort. A cast of "inventive talent" was involved, principally Sidney J. Finn, who initially brought the idea forward in 1949, Otto R. Haas, and Joseph Fossa. While I found no evidence of it, I like to think that all three men were baseball fans or at least played on the company's baseball team.
W.W. Pritchard of the Research Division noted in January, 1949 that one of the problems is "the lasting of the baseball cover and that the matter should be referred to the inventive talent at Beverly to see if they can come forth with any ideas as to how this might be accomplished." Haas's earlier work related to baseball sewn covers (US Patent 2,840,024) and an apparatus that sews together the edges of a baseball (US Patent 2,747,529). Joseph Fossa held several patents for baseball sewing apparatus, principally methods for spheriphying baseballs (US Patent 3,178,917) and for methods of assembling by sewing the cover pieces of baseballs (US Patent 3,179,075). The "inventive talent" of Finn, Haas, Fossa, and countless other USMC engineers all assigned their patents to the United Shoe Machinery Corporation under the direction of a robust patenting programming.
Many of the baseball manufacturers, such as A.G. Spaulding, J. de Beer and Son, MacGregor, Wilson, Lannon Manufacturing, George Young, and Tober Baseball Manufacturing Company, were aware of USMC efforts to create a stitching machine. While the customer base was limited in number, the potential revenue from a stitching machine could have been substantial. Because of insufficient interest on the part of these baseball manufacturers (at this point the baseball industry was not sufficiently organized to sponsor the development of a machine) and unresolved problems by the company's engineers, the experimental work orders were closed.
In 1972, Robert H. Bliss, Planning Director of USMC, wrote to R.B. Henderson, Vice President of Research and Development at AMF Voit, "Our development program was curtailed in March, 1961 when the Baseball Manufacturers Committee of Athletic Goods Manufacturing Association declined to support further development, and our management made a decision not to further fund the program without industry support." Bliss further noted that the baseballs stitched on USMC's model machine "were more uniform in appearance than a hand-laced ball, but there was some speculation that a major league pitcher could tell the difference and would prefer a hand-laced ball." While the economics of the time were considered good, the company could not justify spending more money on the project. Other than increasing the company's knowledge in the area of stitching technology, there was little likelihood that a broad application would result.