Fanatics, the company that manufactures uniforms for Major League Baseball, has suspended production on jerseys and is instead using the polyester mesh fabric to make masks and gowns for hospitals in Pennsylvania and nearby states.
Michael Rubin, founder and executive chairman of Fanatics, was watching TV last week when he was struck by the idea to turn the 360,000-square-foot facility in Easton, Pennsylvania, into a factory for the COVID-19 virus fight.
While Rubin considered how he could make it happen, St. Luke’s Hospital in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, reached out to Fanatics late last week about the possibility of the company manufacturing masks. Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf and Attorney General Josh Shapiro each contacted Rubin over the weekend and told Rubin the state was in “dire need” of more masks and gowns.
Fanatics developed a prototype that was approved by the state’s emergency agency and by Tuesday the company halted production of all baseball jerseys.
Rubin, a limited ownership partner of the NBA’s Philadelphia 76ers and NHL’s New Jersey Devils, said he had the blessing of MLB commissioner Rob Manfred to stop producing jerseys.
“‘We’ve got a million yards of fabric that we make these baseball uniforms from — what would you think if we take that fabric and make masks and gowns?'” Rubin told The Associated Press what he said to Manfred. “He immediately said, ‘Great. I want to do it immediately. The most important thing is we’ve got to help the heroes on the front line, and baseball can help play a role in it.'”