The Rawlings company has been the official supplier of baseballs to the Major League Baseball since 1977, and has been in the sports equipment business for over 125 years. Brothers Alfred and George Rawlings opened their small sporting goods store in St. Louis, Mo., in 1887, which burned down within a few months. Undaunted, they went into sports manufacturing the following year, funded by Charles W. Scudder.
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Bring Your Own Ball
During the early history of the game, each team was expected to bring their own baseballs to the the diamond. Rawlings started producing baseballs as far back as 1907, but became the official supplier of balls to Major League Baseball 60 years later when a 1968 anti-trust investigation forced Spalding to sell the Rawlings portion of its holdings.
Logos Come and Logos Go
For eight years Rawlings supplied balls to both the American League and the National League. However, the American League got the Rawlings logo stamp and the National League got the Spalding logo. In 1976 Spalding's agreement with the National League expired. Rawlings logos appeared on all official league baseballs in 1977, but with separate league logos. The Rawlings Official Major League Baseball was born in 2000 when governing authority over both leagues changed.
Getting a Mud Bath
In 1921 the pitchers complained that they couldn't get a good grip on new balls, so the umpires began rubbing them with infield dirt before a game. Lena Blackburne's Rubbing Mud is now used to condition the balls before play. Umpires keep a close watch on the condition of the balls and can take a ball out of the game the minute it's too scuffed up.