Did You Know Rawlings MLB Baseballs are Not Made in the U S?
Every year about this time I buy a dozen Major League Baseball from Rawlings. Each baseball comes packed in it’s own percious cardboard container with tissue paper protecting its pearly white exterior in anticipation of the upcoming Spring and MLB season. Instantly there are thoughts of who should sign them, what events will they make their presence, or should I just tuck them away for prosperity.
The moment I do take the white spheres out of their first “home”, the smell of the ball with it’s pleasant leather aroma can send me into a avalanche of embracing baseball memories and emotions. But recently I was floored and shocked to discover this icon of America’s favorite pastime was no longer manufactured within our countries borders?
That’s right, the baseball we all chase and want to feel in the palms of our hands is no longer produced in this country. Furthermore, since Rawlings became the official provider of baseball to Major League Baseball back in 1977, not one of the 108 stitches into that old cowhide has been sewn on U S soil.
It shocked me that a company that is located within the baseball-frenzied mid-West region of St. Louis, Missouri would outsource such an American icon, plus not even produce it within our own hemisphere.
Then again, Rawlings has been doing a bit of country-jumping since its inception in 1887. Most of us would not seemed shocked or amazed to find out Rawlings moved it s baseball operations to Puerto Rico back in 1969. Even though Puerto Rico is a American unincorporated territory, most imagine it as our future 51st state. But the saga doesn’t end here.
Rawlings then decided to move a bit more to the South with labor and supplies costing less in the then impoversed nation of Haiti in 1987. But the story doesn’t end here either. Finally the company decide to move their total baseball manufacturing machinery to cost-efficient Costa Rica after the Haitian political climate became increasingly volatile. The company set up shop in the small town of Turrialba which now houses a 80,000 square foot facility that employs over 700 local workers.
The factory is said to produce 50,000 baseballs a week, with each employee producing up to 30 balls a day with the balls’ journey from materials to a MLB ballpark taking as little as 21 days. All told, the production of Rawlings baseballs brought a $21 million dollar windfall for their economy.
This developing country nestled between the Pacific Ocean and the Carribean Sea is the locale Rawlings has been sending their cowhide, twine and hard cores to be made into the American icon. It is still shocking to me that the one item we all want to possess in our gloves, or have our favorite player sign for display on our shelves and mantels in manufactured so far away from the sounds and actions of the game.
Suddenly that smell premiating from my new pearly white baseballs is taking on a distinctively different scent. At least the baseballs we see being used during the MLB season does come from an “America”, even though it is Central America.