Switch-hitter: Palmer Township plant converts from Major League Baseball uniform manufacturing to making face masks
With America’s favorite pastime sheltered in place in the dugout, Fanatics, Inc. has teamed up with Major League Baseball (MLB) to provide protective gear for those on the frontlines battling the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Fanatics Founder and Executive Chairman Michael Rubin called MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred Jr. and proposed temporarily halting baseball team jersey production at the Fanatic’s Palmer Township plant to produce desperately-needed face masks and gowns.
Manfred “loved the idea,” according to Rubin, and agreed to have MLB and Fanatics split the $3 million in costs necessary to manufacture and donate the protective gear.
The Fanatics plant near Easton manufactures MLB uniforms and fan gear. Fanatics bought the former Majestic plant in 2017. With approximately 500 employees, the plant is the biggest apparel manufacturer in the Lehigh Valley’s once booming textile industry.
Opening Day for MLB was to have been March 26. It’s been postponed until as late as July 4.
“We have already begun production of up to one million masks and gowns from the fabric used to make the official MLB jerseys and then donating to hospitals and emergency management personnel,” says Rubin.
Having started with the available textiles in stock, the non-surgical grade, single-use masks and gowns bear the same pin stripes worn by professional athletes on the Philadelphia Phillies and New York Yankees baseball teams. As the need continues, Fantatics, Inc. plans to use fabric from other MLB teams.
“I’m proud that Major League Baseball can partner with Fanatics to help support the brave healthcare workers and emergency personnel who are on the frontlines of helping patients with COVID-19. They are truly heroes,” says Manfred.
“We hope this effort can play a part in coming together as a community to help us through this challenging situation,” Manfred says.