Spalding is an American sports equipment manufacturing company. It was founded by Albert Spalding in Chicago in 1876 as a baseball manufacturer, and is today headquartered in Bowling Green, Kentucky. It sells softballs through its subsidiary Dudley Sports. In the past, Spalding has manufactured balls for other sports, including American football, soccer, volleyball, tennis, and golf.

Spalding
Company typeSubsidiary
IndustrySports equipment
Founded1876; 148 years ago (1876)
FounderAlbert Spalding
Headquarters,
Area served
North America
Australia
ProductsBasketballs
OwnerBerkshire Hathaway
ParentFruit of the Loom
SubsidiariesDudley
Websitespalding.com

For a brief period in the 1980s, Spalding was also a designer of aftermarket automotive wheels.

History edit

 
Albert Spalding, founder of the company, in 1910

The company was founded in 1876 when Albert Spalding was a pitcher and manager of an early professional baseball team in Chicago, the Chicago White Stockings. The company standardized early baseballs and developed the modern baseball bat, a derivation of the cricket bat.

The Spalding "League Ball" was adopted by the National League and used by the league since 1880, as well as by the American Association of Professional Base Ball Clubs for the seasons of 1892–1896. It was manufactured by A. G. Spalding & Bros., Chicago, New York & Philadelphia and sold for $1.50 in 1896.[1][circular reference] In 1892, Spalding acquired rival sporting goods companies Wright & Ditson and A. J. Reach.[2]

 
A.G. Spalding Brothers Co., 1-S, Chicopee, Mass., May 15, 1928. Massachusetts. Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs, Metropolitan District Water Supply Commission, Quabbin Reservoir, Photographs of Real Estate Takings, Massachusetts Archives

In 1893, A.G. Spalding & Brothers purchased the Lamb Knitting Machine Company of Chicopee Falls, Massachusetts, and renamed it the Lamb Manufacturing Company. It used this purchase to consolidate its ice skate manufactory from Newark and its gymnasium goods manufactory from Philadelphia to the Chicopee plant. Lamb, primarily engaged in manufacturing knitting machines, rifles, and egg-beaters, had been fulfilling a contract since 1890 to produce the Credenda bicycle wheel for Spalding. Spalding chose Chicopee because it was the home of the Overman Wheel Company since it acted as their distributor in the Western USA, and Mr. Overman contracted with Lamb to make wheels for its lower-end products.[3]

Production of bicycles continued at the Chicopee plant through the latter part of the 19th century, but in 1899 A.G. Ben Spalding sold its bicycle division to a massive trust called the American Bicycle Company which controlled 65% of the bicycle business in the US.[4]

 
An infantry fencing mask made by A.G. Spaulding & Brothers Co. for the U.S. Government

By 1900, Spalding was selling dumbbells, Indian clubs, and punching bags.[5] During 1916, Spalding was selling a wide variety of sports-related items, including clothing (athletic shirts, belts, pads, hats, jackets, jerseys, pants, shoes, and swimming suits), barbells, fencing blades and foils, golf clubs, guy robes, measuring tapes, pulleys and weights, rowing machines, track equipment (discus, hurdles, hammers, javelins, poles for vaulting, shotputs, and stop watches), and whistles.[6] By 1919, A.G. Spalding & Brothers had developed infantry and cavalry fencing masks for the U.S. Government.[7][8]

During World War II the company joined five other firms to form the New England Small Arms Corporation for manufacture of M1918 Browning Automatic Rifles.[9] A.G. Spalding, as a subcontractor to Sprague Electric Co., also produced parts for the "toothpick" capacitors that were used with the VT proximity fuse.[10][11]

From the early 1930s through the mid-1940s Spalding produced the official game pucks for the National Hockey League. Spalding produced the well-known "Spaldeen" high-bounce rubber ball, said to be a re-use of defective tennis ball cores,[citation needed] that was sold to city children from 1949. In baseball, Spalding manufactured the official ball of the Major Leagues through the 1976 season, using the Reach brand on American League balls and the Spalding trademark on the National League's. Since 1977 the official ball for MLB has been made by Rawlings.

From 1981, in a partnership with the Toyo Rubber Company of Japan, Spalding designed a series of aftermarket automotive wheels known as the "Message" series. It was one of these wheels, the Message II,[12] purportedly described by the company as like a "steam locomotive piston" which won awards from publications such as Motorfan Magazine as the best spoke type wheel and reader's overall choice. Wheels bearing the Spalding name are known to have been manufactured through to at least 1986.

Spalding became a division of the Russell Corporation in 2003[13]—exclusive of its golf operations (which included the Top-Flite, Ben Hogan and Strata brands), which were eventually bought by the Callaway Golf Company later the same year.[14]

Products edit

 
An example of a Spalding NBA ball, the ZK Pro Platinum

Spalding has manufactured balls for baseball, softball, American football, soccer, volleyball, tennis, and golf. For a brief period in the 1980s, Spalding was also a designer of aftermarket automotive wheels.

Basketball edit

Spalding developed its first basketball in 1894[15] based on the design of a baseball, and is currently a leading producer. Spalding was the official game ball supplier to the National Basketball Association (NBA) from 1983 to 2021, when the league reunited with Wilson after 37 years.[16]

In 2006, Spalding and the NBA announced that they would create a new NBA Official Game Ball for the 2006–07 NBA season, with interlocking segments and made with a synthetic leather instead of the real thing.[17] However, many NBA players complained that the new composite ball became extremely slick after use, wouldn't bounce as high, bounced awkwardly off the rim and backboard, and cut their fingers. In response, the NBA reverted to the old leather balls (with the old eight-panel pattern) on January 1, 2007.[18]

American football edit

Prior to the AFL–NFL merger, Spalding produced the American Football League's game ball, the J5V (or J5-V), which was 14 in (0.64 cm) narrower and 14 in (0.64 cm) longer than the NFL football, "The Duke" by Wilson.[19][20]

The company was the official game ball supplier of the first and second incarnations Arena Football League, an indoor American football league, from 2004 until its 2019 shutdown; the Horween Leather Company supplied leather to Spalding those balls.[21][22]

Other sports edit

The company was one of the first to use high-profile athletes to endorse its products when tennis player Pancho Gonzales was signed to an exclusive endorsement contract in 1951.

Spalding sells softballs through its subsidiary Dudley Sports.

Spalding Athletic Library edit

 
Wrap cover of Spalding's Athletic Library Baseball: Base Ball, published in 1911. The company commercialized a large variety of sports publications between the end of the 19th century to the 1910s

In 1892 Spalding created the Spalding Athletic Library, which sold sports and exercise books through its American Sports Publishing Company, also founded that year.[23][24]

The first book published was Life and Battles of James J. Corbett, Volume 1, Number 1 in 1892. The book includes stories of Corbett's past opponents. The first book was published under: Spalding's Athletic Library, American Sports Publishing Company, New York.[25] The editor of the first book was Richard K. Fox, and Corbett was referred to as the California Wonder.[26]

In the baseball series, Ty Cobb wrote "Strategy in the Outfield."[27] In the self defense series, Jiu Jitsui with poses by A Minami and K Koyama.[28]

The Spalding Athletic Library covered a variety of sports, exercises, and organizations. The Brooklyn Daily Eagle newspaper stated regarding this collection, "devoted to all athletics pastimes, indoor and outdoor, and is the recognized American cyclopedia of sport".[29] The company's last publication was in 1941.

An article by the Society for American Baseball Research (SABR) states, "It lasted for many years and enjoyed the greatest success of any publication of its kind."[30]

Advertisements inside books available from Spalding included archery, athletics (track and field; all around; cross country running; and marathon), badminton, baseball, basketball, bicycling, bowling, boxing, canoeing, cricket, croquet, curling, fencing, (American) football, golf, gymnast, handball, hockey, jujutsu, lacrosse, lawn sports, polo, pushball, quoits, racquetball, rowing, rugby, skating, soccer, squash, swimming, tennis, tumbling, volleyball, and wrestling. Bodybuilding books included the dumbbell, Indian club, medicine ball, and pulley weights. Sporting books for organizations included Amateur Athletic Union (AAU), IC4A, National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), Olympics, public schools, and the YMCA.[31][32]

Spalding produced a mail-order catalog that provided a description, price, and picture of their sports equipment, sports books, and exercise books. A couple of examples are "How to Play Golf" for 25 cents, "How to Play Basketball" at 10 cents, and "How to Train for Bicycling" at 10 cents.[33]

Spalding Co. purchased Wright & Ditson Co. in 1892 and A.J. Reach Co. in 1889.[34] For several years after the purchases, Wright & Ditson and A.J. Reach continued to publish sports books separately from the Spalding Athletic Library name.[35][36] Professional baseball player George Wright co-founded Wright & Ditson Co.; and professional baseball player Al Reach founded A.J. Reach Co. The Spalding Baseball Guides were published under A.G. Spalding & Bros. until 1893–1894, and starting in 1894-1895 by American Sports Publishing Company (but not using the Spalding Athletic Library name).[37]

Sponsorships edit

Spalding is the official ball provider of the following leagues and associations, as well as it has deals with exclusive agreements with some prominent athletes:[38][39][as of?]

American football edit

Basketball edit

Leagues & Associations edit

National teams edit

Club teams edit

  •   KK Sutjeska Nikšić
  • Boules edit

    Other teams edit

    Volleyball edit

    Testimonials edit

    See also edit

    • Robert Hathaway, chief of the firm's London branch who became ruler of the Channel Islands royal fief of Sark

    References edit

    1. ^ "Spalding's 1896 Official Bicycle Guide, Volume 4, No. 45, page 85". commons.wikimedia.org. 241 Broadway, New York: American Sports Publishing Co. December 1895. Archived from the original on November 2, 2013. Retrieved June 27, 2023.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: location (link)
    2. ^ "Business: Spalding". Time. time.com. February 18, 1929. Archived from the original on November 28, 2007. Retrieved May 23, 2011.
    3. ^ Springfield Republican, October 10, 1893, p. 6
    4. ^ Springfield Republican, September 3, 2008, written by Stephen Jendrysik
    5. ^ "The Honolulu Advertiser 15 Mar 1900, page 8". Newspapers.com. Archived from the original on November 6, 2021. Retrieved February 3, 2021.
    6. ^ Toombs, Frederick R. (1913). Jiu jitsu, the effective Japanese mode of self-defense. Spalding "red cover" series of athletic handbooks.no. 21R. New York: American Sports Publishing Company. Archived from the original on November 6, 2021. Retrieved February 3, 2021.
    7. ^ "Armor - Body and Helmets - Infantry Fencing Mask made by A.G. Spaulding & Bros. for the U.S. Government". National Archives Catalog.
    8. ^ "Armor - Body and Helmets - Side view of Cavalry Fencing Mask by A.G. Spaulding & Bros. for the U.S. Government". National Archives Catalog.
    9. ^ Bruce N. Canfield (March 2008). "None available". American Rifleman. pp. 35–36.
    10. ^ Proceedings of The Radio Club of America, Inc., Volume 54, Number 2, October, 1980
    11. ^ "The Allies' Billion-dollar Secret: The Proximity Fuze of World War II". HistoryNet. October 19, 2020. Archived from the original on August 23, 2021. Retrieved August 23, 2021.
    12. ^ "Spalding Message II | Kyusha Shoes". Archived from the original on June 8, 2021. Retrieved June 8, 2021.
    13. ^ "Russell Is Buying Most Of Spalding Sporting Goods Unit". New York Times. April 18, 2003. Retrieved May 23, 2011.
    14. ^ "Callaway Golf Beats Out Adidas To Buy Top-Flite". New York Times. September 5, 2003. Retrieved May 23, 2011.
    15. ^ "History of the Basketball". nba.com. June 28, 2006. Archived from the original on March 12, 2011. Retrieved May 23, 2011.
    16. ^ Young, Jabari (May 13, 2020). "NBA drops Spalding as maker of official basketball after more than 30 years". CNBC. Archived from the original on June 1, 2021.
    17. ^ Sandomir, Richard (June 29, 2006). "N.B.A. Is Getting a Grip on a New Synthetic Game Ball". The New York Times. Archived from the original on November 10, 2012. Retrieved May 23, 2011.
    18. ^ Robbins, Liz (December 12, 2006). "N.B.A. Says New Ball Is Not Worth the Pain". The New York Times. Archived from the original on June 29, 2016. Retrieved May 23, 2011.
    19. ^ "The AFL's Skinny Football". Sports Illustrated. June 17, 2014.
    20. ^ Beschloss, Michael (January 24, 2015). "Before the Bowl Was Super". New York Times. Archived from the original on January 14, 2018. Retrieved June 9, 2015.
    21. ^ Farmer, Sam (February 7, 2004). "This Makes It a New Ballgame". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved January 17, 2024.
    22. ^ Horween Leather Company. encyclopedia.com. Archived from the original on July 18, 2013. Retrieved March 26, 2013.
    23. ^ "Successful Men". The History Box. Archived from the original on January 17, 2021. Retrieved October 23, 2020.
    24. ^ State, New Jersey Dept of (1892). Corporations of New Jersey: List of Certificates Filed in the Department of State During the Year ... MacCrellish & Quigley.
    25. ^ "Buffalo Courier". Newspapers.com. Buffalo, NY. October 30, 1892. p. 7. Archived from the original on November 6, 2021. Retrieved October 23, 2020.
    26. ^ "Open Library". Archived from the original on December 12, 2020. Retrieved November 22, 2020.
    27. ^ Library, New York Public (1922). The Spalding Baseball Collection. New York public library.
    28. ^ Toombs, Frederick R. (1913). Jiu jitsu, the effective Japanese mode of self-defense. Spalding "red cover" series of athletic handbooks.no. 21R. New York: American Sports Publishing Company. Archived from the original on April 26, 2021. Retrieved December 12, 2020.
    29. ^ "The Brooklyn Daily Eagle". Newspapers.com. Brooklyn, New York. August 20, 1905. p. 43. Archived from the original on November 6, 2021. Retrieved October 25, 2020.
    30. ^ LinWeber, Ralph E. "Baseball Guides Galore". research.sabr.org. Archived from the original on May 8, 2021. Retrieved December 11, 2020.
    31. ^ Books Added: Five-year Cumulation of the Book Bulletin of the Chicago Public Library. Chicago Public Library. 1916.
    32. ^ Bulletin of the New York Public Library. New York Public Library. 1922.
    33. ^ "Cincinnati & Hamilton County Public Library; Spalding Catalogue". Archived from the original on January 12, 2021. Retrieved October 24, 2020.
    34. ^ "Mysterious Partnership". Archived from the original on November 6, 2021. Retrieved December 15, 2020.
    35. ^ "REA History". robertedwardauctions.com. Archived from the original on November 6, 2021. Retrieved December 15, 2020.
    36. ^ "Our Game". December 15, 2020.
    37. ^ "Arkansas Baseball". Arkansas Baseball Encyclopedia. Archived from the original on November 6, 2021. Retrieved December 15, 2020.
    38. ^ "Spalding partnerships". April 1, 2017. Archived from the original on March 8, 2021.
    39. ^ "Spalding 2017 online catalog". Archived from the original on July 27, 2018. Retrieved April 1, 2017.
    40. ^ "Ball Adoptions for 2019-2020 and Beyond". Kentucky High School Athletic Association. Archived from the original on August 24, 2020. Retrieved August 20, 2020.
    41. ^ "FIBA EuroBasket 2017". FIBA.com. Archived from the original on August 21, 2017. Retrieved May 16, 2017.
    42. ^ "#AfroBasket - Day 8: Cape Verde v Republic of Congo (highlights)". YouTube. Archived from the original on January 19, 2021. Retrieved August 6, 2016.
    43. ^ "Georgia | EuroBasket 2015 – PHOTO GALLERY". eurobasket2015.org. Archived from the original on October 23, 2015. Retrieved October 22, 2015.
    44. ^ "Hungary | FIBA EuroBasket 2017". FIBA.com. Archived from the original on August 19, 2017. Retrieved March 22, 2017.
    45. ^ "Uruguay - FIBA Americup 2017". FIBA.com. Archived from the original on August 31, 2017. Retrieved August 31, 2017.
    46. ^ "Team 15/16 Telekom Baskets Bonn". telekom-baskets-bonn.de. Archived from the original on October 4, 2015. Retrieved September 30, 2015.

    External links edit