From the bats to the hats, Made in America is a big part of baseball — with one notable exception.
Baseball is back! Today is Opening Day of Major League Baseball, the earliest start date in The Show’s history. In addition to the head start, all 30 teams will play on Opening Day this year. The new season begins at 12:30 p.m. Eastern time with the Miami Marlins hosting the Chicago Cubs.
For a sport that’s been historically dubbed as our National Pastime, baseball still lives up to its atmosphere of patriotism. But is the equipment that our idolized athletes rely on to perform still Made in America?
With the nationwide breadth of activity and competition baseball commands, it’s harder and harder to find products that are made in the United States. Hall-of-Famer Leo Durocher once said, “There are only five things you can do in baseball: run, throw, catch, hit, and hit with power.” Here’s a quick guide of gear manufactured by companies that support American jobs to help you do just that.
Bats: This product is about as synonymous with baseball as ice is to ice hockey. The almighty Louisville Slugger and its Kentucky-born brand still operate and manufacture in the United States, helping MLB all-stars like Ryan Zimmerman chalk up hits. It's also union-made, by United Steelworkers Local 1693.
Balls: Rawlings is the supplier of all baseballs used in the Major and Minor Leagues. Although founded and headquartered in Missouri, the company's official game balls are now manufactured in Costa Rica.
Bases: Schutt makes all the bases used in the MLB in Litchfield, Ill.
Gloves: There’s a lot of choices here, but many pros use Rawlings’ gloves. While the company's larger market production has diversified overseas, Rawlings’ pro and custom models are made in Missouri. You can even have your glove tailor-made to fit your hand, just like National League MVP Giancarlo Stanton. Alternatively, Nokona Ballgloves out of Texas offer handcrafted gloves that are 100 percent American-made.
Protection: This is another area where the mass market has opted to produce overseas. But Schutt Sports still sells helmets, catcher’s pads, and other gear that’s been made in the United States. Just make sure to check the label before you buy.
Cleats: New Balance, headquartered in Boston, boasts some of the best baseball cleats in the game. A company committed to making footwear in the USA, New Balance is transparent that some of their production is overseas. Like helmets and pads, check before you buy.
Hats: New Era Cap Company owns exclusive licensing rights to the MLB (and the NBA and NFL) and makes the official on-field hats for the league. Founded in Buffalo, New Era makes many of their hats in their city of origin. Some of the company's caps are still produced overseas, so it’s another case of checking the label. If you want your hat guaranteed American-made, check out Americap Baseball Caps, produced in North Carolina.