Fanatics is considered to be the global leader in licensed sports merchandise. They are an official partner of the NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL, Nascar, College sports and more. They usually spend their days making team apparel and jerseys for sports fans.
But desperate times come with desperate measures and Fanatics have stepped up to the plate.
You see Fanatics are also the company that manufactures uniforms for Major League Baseball.
They have repurposed the Bryce Harper jersey that could have been worn this baseball season by the biggest Philadelphia Phillies fan into the design for a protective mask in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic.
Instead using the polyester mesh fabric to make baseball uniforms, they will now become masks and gowns for hospitals in Pennsylvania and nearby states.
Michael Rubin is the founder and executive chairman of Fanatics. Last week while watching TV (unfortunately not sports), when he was struck by the idea.
How could he turn the 360,000-square foot facility in Easton, Pennsylvania, into a factory for the COVID-19 virus fight?
Well as it so happens, St. Luke’s Hospital in Bethlehem reached out to him with an idea. Was there a possibility that the company could manufacture masks?
Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf and Attorney General Josh Shapiro also reached out to Rubin letting him know that the state was in “dire need” of more masks and gowns.
Fanatics, with Rubin at the helm, developed a prototype that was quickly approved by the state’s emergency agency. With the blessing of MLB commissioner Rob Manfred, the company halted production of all baseball 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. “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.’”
Production has begun and Fanatics hopes to produce nearly 15,000 masks and gowns a day.
The Fanatics production plant had been shut down as a nonessential business but about 100 workers have returned to work for Fanatics.
The company is making Level 1 masks, used for low-risk, nonsurgical procedures that are for single-use only.