With no baseball games on the schedule for the foreseeable future, official MLB jerseys won't be worn on the field or in the stands at big-league ballparks any time soon.
Major League Baseball and Fanatics launched a new initiative on Thursday to put those jerseys to good use by supporting healthcare workers and emergency personnel who are fighting back against the COVID-19 pandemic.
Fanatics has halted all jersey production and begun to repurpose its manufacturing plant in Easton, PA. to make masks and gowns. Those materials – made from the exact fabric that players wear on the field – will then be distributed to hospitals and emergency personnel in Pennsylvania, New York and New Jersey.
The goal is to produce up to one million masks and hospital gowns, but Fanatics is prepared to extend this endeavor as long as necessary. Both MLB and Fanatics will absorb all costs necessary to manufacture these items.
“The COVID-19 crisis has compelled our country to be more collaborative, innovative and strategic than ever before," explained Michael Rubin, Fanatics Executive Chairman, in a statement distributed via email. "As the demand for masks and gowns have surged, we’re fortunate to have teamed up with Major League Baseball to find a unique way to support our frontline workers in this fight to stem the virus, who are in dire need of essential resources."
Once you see the masks and gowns in action, it isn't hard to tell which team's jersey fabrics were used to make them. The first batch was created using Yankees and Phillies uniforms, with navy and red pinstripes prominently stretching across each item.
The protective gear will soon be made by fabrics from other teams as well.
Rubin recognized the scale of this international pandemic, exploring options as to how his company could utilize its massive factory to help. Once it was determined Fanatics had the capacity to contribute by transforming its plant into a safe and secure facility, Rubin reached out to MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred.
When asked if Fanatics was permitted to halt the production of baseball jerseys, Manfred loved the idea and swiftly asked how quickly they could get started.
“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 front lines of helping patients with COVID-19. They are truly heroes,” Manfred said.
With Opening Day postponed for eight weeks, and no definitive date set for the regular season opener, Fanatics and MLB are doing all they can to help make a difference. Instead of your heroes wearing this fabric on the diamond, heroes fighting to contain the spread of this virus will wear them on the front lines.
"We hope this effort can play a part in coming together as a community to help us through this challenging situation,” the Commissioner said.
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