In 1836 Charles Goodyear patented vulcanized rubber. Prior to this, balls were dependant on the size and shape of the pig’s bladder. The more irregular the bladder, the more unpredictable the behavior of the ball was when kicked. However; it would not be until the twentieth century until most balls were made with rubber bladders.
In 1855, Charles Goodyear designed and built the first vulcanized rubber soccer balls (footballs). The following picture shows the Charles Goodyear ball that was on display at the National Soccer Hall of Fame which was located in Oneonta, NY, USA.
Oldest Soccer Ball (Football) Facts:
- Designed and Built in 1855 by Charles Goodyear
- Made of vulcanized rubber panels glued at the seams
- Panels are shaped similar to today’s basketball
- The ball was used for a game between the Oneida Football Club, the first organized team in the US, and a team of players from Boston Latin and Boston English Schools. The Oneida club was formed by Gerritt Smith-Miller and came from the students at Dixwell Latin School, where he was a student. Dixwell Latin merged with other schools over time and is a forbear to Noble & Greenough, an independent school located in Dedham, MA. The game was played on Boston Common, where there is a monument to commemorate the game, on November 7, 1863. The ball became the trophy from that game as shown in the picture above.
- The ball was donated by the family of Gerritt Smith-Miller to The Society For the Preservation of New England Antiquities in 1925.
- It is interesting to note that when James Naismith developed the game of basketball, the first game was played with – a soccer ball!
Information and pictures obtained from the National Soccer Hall of Fame which was located in Oneonta, NY, USA.