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|Founded||1887St. Louis, Missouriin|
|Founder||George and Alfred Rawlings|
Number of employees
|1,200 globally |
(150 in St. Louis)
Rawlings is an American sports equipment manufacturing company based in Town and Country, Missouri, and founded in 1887. Major League Baseball and Seidler Equity Partners (SEP) bought the company from Newell Brands in June 2018 for $395 million.
Rawlings specializes in baseball equipment, but also manufactures softball, American football, basketball, soccer, and volleyball balls, apart from footwear and training equipment. They have also recently started making fan gear such as chairs, tents, and bags with team logos on them.
The Horween Leather Company has provided Rawlings with leather since 1929. In 2003, Horween was providing leather for 3,000 Rawlings baseball gloves annually, and half of professional baseball players were using baseball gloves made from Horween leather.
Rawlings was founded in Saint Louis in 1887, during the middle of the Long Depression, by George and Alfred Rawlings. The brothers set up a sporting goods store with its own catalog. They sold "Fishing Tackle, Guns, Baseball, Football, Golf, Polo, Tennis, Athletic and General Sporting Goods".
The company is credited with introducing football shoulder pads in 1902, and the first all-weather football.
Rawlings began providing the hometown St. Louis Cardinals with gloves in 1906. In 1920, Bill Doak, a pitcher for the St. Louis Cardinals, suggested that a web be placed between the first finger and the thumb in order to create a pocket. This design soon became the standard for baseball gloves. Doak patented his design and sold it to Rawlings. His design became the precursor to modern gloves, and enabled Rawlings to become the preferred glove of professional players.
In 1955, Spalding bought Rawlings, and began using it to manufacture baseballs. In 1957, the company introduced the Gold Glove award, which became the major award for baseball. It also sponsors the Minor League Baseball (MiLB) "Rawlings Woman Executive of the Year" award. Thirteen years after acquiring it, an antitrust investigation forced Spalding to sell Rawlings again, but as it did so Spalding set up a contract that would have Rawlings manufacture baseballs to sell with the Spalding logo.
When this agreement ended in 1977, Rawlings began using its own logo, becoming the official supplier of the major leagues (producing separate balls for both the American and National Leagues from 1977 to 1999, and since 2000, a single ball for all of Major League Baseball), succeeding Spalding, which had been the supplier for a century. All the balls supplied to MLB teams are manufactured in Costa Rica. Many major leaguers have endorsed Rawlings equipment over the years. There are five main series for the gloves: the Gold Glove Series, the Heritage Pro Series, the Heart of the Hide Series, the Pro Preferred Series, and the Gold Glove Collection Series.
In 2003, K2 Inc. acquired Rawlings. In 2005 Rawlings corporate headquarters were moved from Fenton, Missouri, to Town and Country, Missouri. In 2007, Jarden acquired K2 Inc. On December 14, 2015, Newell Rubbermaid announced that it would acquire Jarden for over $15 billion of cash and stock. The combined company was renamed Newell Brands.
It was announced on June 5, 2018 that Rawlings was sold from Newell Brands to the Los Angeles-based private equity firm, Seidler Equity Partners (SEP) (which owns LA Fitness), with MLB a co-investor in the $395 million deal. Rawlings employs 150 people in the St. Louis area, and 1,200 globally. The deal was completed on July 2, 2018. Rawlings previously made some custom baseball gloves at its plant in Washington, Missouri, but no longer makes any baseball gloves in the United States, with the factory still open.
As of August 19, 2010, Rawlings signed a multi year deal with the National Football League for products such as tent canopies, grills, and chairs. This will also include non-exclusive tailgate products such as coolers, stadium seats, and footballs.