Fanatics converts MLB jersey factory to coronavirus medical masks and gowns

CLEVELAND, Ohio – This week I was supposed to write an article highlighting the best new Indian merchandise for the upcoming season.

Instead, opening day came and went without throwing a single pitch. And Fanatics, the retailer that runs MLB’s online store and would have been high on the list, now makes masks and medical gowns from the same fabric used to make the official jerseys worn by players. .

The coronavirus crisis has changed everything.

Fanatics founder Michael Rubin said the idea of ​​converting the company’s plant in Easton, Pa., into a factory that makes supplies for medical workers on the front lines of the pandemic came to him the last week, he wrote on Twitter.

On Tuesday, after receiving calls from St. Luke’s Hospital in Bethlehem, the state’s governor and attorney general, and the blessing of MLB commissioner Rob Manfred, fanatics halted production of the jerseys and began to manufacture medical equipment.

The prototypes Rubin showed off on Twitter still had Yankees and Phillies stripes on them.

“We have a million yards of fabric that we make these baseball uniforms from, what would you think if we took that fabric and made masks and dresses,” Rubin told The Associated Press of his conversation. with Manfred. “He immediately said, ‘Great. I want to do it immediately. The most important thing is that we need to help the heroes on the front line and baseball can help play a part in that.

Rubin said 100 employees returned to the factory, working a safe distance from each other, with the goal of making one million masks and gowns. The plan is to donate and distribute them to hospitals and emergency response teams in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and New York.

There have been 68,440 reported cases of COVID-19 in the United States, according to the CDC. More than 56% of them were in these three states.

Fanatics hopes to produce 15,000 gowns and masks per day. Although the governor of Pennsylvania has offered to pay them, Rubin, who is worth $2.9 billion according to Forbes, said Fanatics and MLB have teamed up to provide the equipment at no cost.

“We’re less concerned with making jerseys and more concerned with just saving lives,” he said.

Neal T. Doss