Major League Baseball has struck a new licensing agreement with the Rawling Sports Goods Company Inc. that grants the baseball equipment manufacturer official glove rights with the league in addition to the official ball and batting helmet rights it already has.
Rawlings will become an official glove partner with MLB beginning in 2020, and the company will gain exclusive on-field rights beginning in 2021. The company has also long been the sponsor for baseball’s Gold Glove Awards, which recognize the top fielders in MLB.
“The designation ‘official glove’ of Major League Baseball cements our ties with the best game and best players in the world, while honoring the people behind the best baseball glove in the world,” said Mike Thompson, Rawlings chief marketing officer.
Players will retain the ability to use the fielding gloves of their choice, though the league says more MLB players use Rawlings gloves than all other brands combined. The official designation with the league will work similarly to the league’s rights in cleats, which also involves player choice. The official designation allows Rawlings to use team and league marks, logos, and uniforms in their marketing, and would not have access to those key assets otherwise.
Rival brand Wilson currently holds the official glove designation. It will share the rights with Rawlings next year, and then lose them in 2021 as Rawlings takes on the exclusivity.
Rawlings, meanwhile, through its status as MLB’s official ball manufacturer has deeply been involved in controversy around the allegedly over-lively performance of the official ball as MLB set by far a new overall league record for the most home runs hit in a season.
The furor around the ball continued during the World Series, and the league is expected to soon release a detailed scientific study on the baseball’s properties.
Rawlings is majority owned by Seidler Equity Partners, a private equity fund led by San Diego Padres general partner Peter Seidler. MLB itself is a significant minority partner in Rawlings.