With the Major League Baseball season suspended due to Covid-19, resources that would normally be reserved for making jerseys will instead go toward masks and gowns for healthcare workers.
Fanatics, the company that manufactures MLB jerseys for Nike, has temporarily converted its 360,000-square-foot manufacturing plant in Easton, Pennsylvania, to create up to 1 million masks and gowns, per MLB.
According to Fanatics executive director Michael Rubin, the company has halted production of jerseys entirely, instead re-focusing a staff of 100 social-distanced employees on making masks and gowns from jersey materials. They will be donated to hospitals and emergency management personnel in Pennsylvania with plans to expand to the New York City region, which has become the epicenter of the outbreak.
MLB and Fanatics are absorbing all costs.
Will these gowns and masks work?
Probably not as well as standard masks, but they’ll definitely help. MLB jerseys are made with polyester, which could retain germs for a longer period of time compared to cotton. But the jersey-made equipment could still help prevent the spread of Covid-19 by way of coughing, spitting or sneezing. Some form of prevention is better than none as healthcare workers are already struggling with a lack of resources amid the outbreak and are being told to reuse masks.
Which jerseys are being used?
Fast forward to today – @Fanatics and @MLB have halted production of all MLB jerseys and instead using that same fabric we make the jerseys with to make masks and gowns!! We have approx 100 associates working (extra distanced and in a very clean and safe environment of course) pic.twitter.com/E8ewI0REfn— Michael Rubin (@MichaelGRubin) March 26, 2020
This is great news
Though some sports franchise owners have failed to act in the best interest of their employees and the public, this is an inspiring move from MLB and Fanatics. Rubin, who’s also a part-owner of the Sixers, was said to have been against the 20 percent reduction in staff pay that was quickly reversed after public backlash. Now he’s helping lead an effort to stop the spread of Covid-19 and embracing the costs that come with it.
The U.S. needs more billionaires to follow.