Michael Rubin, executive chairman of Fanatics, announced on Thursday that the company’s Pennsylvania factory will be converted from making official Major League Baseball jerseys into making masks and gowns. Those masks and gowns will be donated to help fight coronavirus (COVID-19). Fanatics manufactures and distributes official MLB uniforms as well as merchandise for fan consumption. It also operates MLB’s e-commerce, as well as that of many other major sports leagues.
In the full thread of tweets, Rubin says that Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf and Attorney General Josh Shapiro each called him asking for help creating masks and gowns. MLB and Fanatics agreed to halt production of jerseys. With the help of approximately 100 associates, Fanatics plans to make one million masks and gowns to donate and distribute to hospitals and emergency personnel across the state of Pennsylvania with the goal of also extending into New Jersey and New York.
Based on the picture Rubin provided in his thread, it doesn’t appear that the masks being made form a seal around the nose and mouth, which the N95 respirators do. Additionally, the N95 respirators are made from polypropylene whereas MLB uniforms are made from polyester. Still, the additional masks and gowns from Fanatics should help and are certainly better than nothing.
It is also worth noting that Rubin and others were in a bit of hot water earlier in the week as he is also a co-owner of the NBA’s Philadelphia 76ers and NHL’s New Jersey Devils. The two organizations wanted to cut their employees’ salaries by up to 20 percent. After significant public pressure, that decision was reversed.