We have made contact with the owners of the now closed Muscle Shoals Rubber Company of Batesville, MS. Since Rawlings moved production out of the U.S. the plant closed and has been purchased by Elite Molding. The new owners have expressed an interest in tooling back up to make the “pills” once our project moves farther along. In order to justify the retooling, Haiti Baseballs would need to commit to 4,000 pills a week.
Getting the leather is proving to be more challenging. Tennessee Tannery manufactures hides for baseballs, but it owned by Rawlings, who has not shown an interest in supplying us with any products. It appears that all their production is used for their proprietary use in Costa Rica. So, we need to find a tannery that specializes in the “alum” method of tanning, that could supply us with the necessary hides. I put out a tweet looking for suppliers and have followed up some leads from some very helpful people; Paul Cunningham at Leatherheadsports.com has been particularly helpful. So, if you know of a tannery who could offer us with the needed hides, send them our way.
I have been in contact with the former owner of D&T Spinning, of Ludlow, Vermont in trying to procure the required yarn. While out of business for a few years, (shut down as a result of Rawlings pulling their business), Joy Grossman has provided some good contacts to follow-up. This will be the least challenging of the three components.
Here is a .pdf that was sent to me by Mike Stevens, a former employee of Muscle Shoals, who has been instrumental in arranging contacts with the new owners and possibly bringing that segment of production back up. This will give you a brief history of the rise and fall of domestic baseball manufacturing.