Major League Baseball and a private equity firm, Seidler Equity Partners, has teamed up to purchase Rawlings Sporting Goods, the league’s longtime baseball supplier. The selling price: $395 million.
Rawlings is being sold by its current owner, Newell Brands Inc., in order to reduce debt load and streamline its operations. Major League Baseball’s reason for buying it comes in the form of a statement from Chris Marinak, the league’s executive vice president for strategy, technology and innovation:
“MLB is excited to take an ownership position in one of the most iconic brands in sports and further build on the Rawlings legacy, which dates back to 1887. We are particularly interested in providing even more input and direction on the production of the official ball of Major League Baseball, one of the most important on-field products to the play of our great game.”
That important on-field product has been in the news quite a bit lately, as Major League Baseball recently revealed that the composition of the ball had, apparently inadvertently, changed, reducing its aerodynamic drag, resulting in a record-setting spike of home runs over the past two and a half seasons.
There’s no suggestion that the league’s purchase of Rawlings has any connection to this, but it will soon be the case that MLB will be fully responsible for the horsehide being flung.
Wait, they haven’t made the ball out of horsehide for over 40 years, so if players are flinging horsehide, someone is gonna get written up.