Rawlings – The Baseball Glove Company
The most popular Major League Baseball (MLB) glove is from Rawlings. Rawlings began in Saint Louis, Missouri in 1887 and has been using Horween Leather since 1929. For some reason, major league players prefer the flexibility, texture and feel of this high-quality leather. In 2003, Horween estimated that it provided the leather for 3,000 Rawlings baseball gloves annually. Baseball is the bread and butter of the Rawlings brand.
At first, the original store of George and Alfred Rawlings had its own catalog and sold fishing tackle, baseball, football, golf and tennis sporting goods. In 1902, the company was credited with manufacturing the first football shoulder pads. In 1906, the Saint Louis Cardinals signed up for some of these high-quality baseball gloves. Then, in 1920, Saint Louis Cardinals pitcher Bill Doak gave a suggestion that the web should be between the first finger and thumb to create a sort of web for catching the ball. Doak’s design became the industry standard and has been copyrighted.
Rawlings Glove Innovations
If you take a close look at the early gloves, they actually look like oven mitts. They simply have four fingers and a thumb. Instead of the modern web, they might have a cushioned area in the palm of the glove. With Doak’s innovation, baseball players can “grip” the ball as it flies through the air. It is actually quite similar to the grasping action of the hand closing upon anything. Some of these spectacular baseball catches have been possible thanks to Bill Doak.
Why was a pitcher responsible for a baseball glove innovation? It may seem kind of odd to have a pitcher offer a change in glove style, but old time pitchers were quite different than today. Today, the pitchers have unique roles. They might only pitch an inning or two. Back then, the pitcher might pitch the whole game and more of them batted too. Babe Ruth was originally a pitcher.
You can’t change a great standard and Rawlings has withstood the test of time. Doak’s innovation was eventually bought out by the brand. Since, then the web has become common fare. The brand has become synonymous with baseball over the years. It is interesting because, it still offers products for other sports. But, the brand is as American as baseball and apple pie.