Web Analytics and Web Statistics by NextSTAT The Boston Sports Nut: History of A.G. Spalding - Sporting Goods Manufacturer

Sunday, February 15, 2009

History of A.G. Spalding - Sporting Goods Manufacturer

(I decided to revise this post I did on July 9 last year)

Many years ago, my dad worked for Spalding's in Chicopee, MA and I guess he retired around 1976 or so and moved to Florida. Can't recall the exact year; I've been in California myself since the early 70's. He passed away in 1981.

I guess you'd refer to him as a 'laborer' and I remember that one of the positions that he held had something to do with the production of golf balls and he worked around some kind of big drum. from what I can recall him telling me. I don't think it was really the best job in the world, but it was employment.
Back then - the 60's - Spalding was a major manufacturer of a number of sport items, including baseballs, footballs, golf balls, golf clubs, bats, etc. and we ended up with a lot of their products. I remember going to their Christmas parties and getting a lot of 'freebies' along with what I considered a nice gift. I really looked forward to this every year. I remember my dad bringing home the latest catalog from Spalding's and we would be excitedly looking through it picking out things we wanted.
He was always bringing home golf balls and he actually constucted a miniature golf course in back of our house that was located on South Street in Holyoke, MA, perhaps 6-7 miles from the factory he worked in. It had something like 7-8 holes and was really neat. I now wished that I would have learned how to play the sport. My interests stopped right there. I think that if my dad had taken me down and gotten me a set of clubs (instead of a couple putters) and introduced me to the local courses, I would have taken up the sport. But an athlete, he was not. He was great working with his hands nonetheless, but we'll leave that topic.
I can recall my brother heading over to Wyckoff Park in Holyoke to play some golf and he caddied over there. I remember dad bringing home these small 'practice golf balls' - the tiny plastic round 'balls' which had holes in them. We used them to play 'pee-gee', which was actually another form of whiffle ball but the ball didn't travel as far and the ball did not crack any windows. Much harder to hit though, but it sharpened your batting eye becasue it was so much smaller than a whiffle ball or an actual baseball. I spent much of my younger days playing various forms of baseball along with 'pee-gee'..... played a lot of 'pickee' (sp?). Anyhow, never amounted to much of a ballplayer.

Enough of the preliminaries. Now we are going to take a trip down Memory Lane to look at the rise and fall of this one-time sports giant. Hopefully, I will post more on the history of Spalding's at a later date. But for right now, I guess we'll begin with the day that they theoretically died........ April 18, 2003.
Spalding selling product names Sports goods company aims to narrow
Oakland Tribune, Apr 18, 2003 by Adam Gorlick, Associated Press

CHICOPEE, Mass. -- Spalding Sports Worldwide is giving up basketball, football and other sports to focus on its golf game. In a $65 million deal announced Thursday, the nation's oldest sporting goods company is selling the Spalding name for all products - - including basketballs, volleyballs, footballs and soccer balls -- to athletic wear maker Russell Corp. Spalding officials say the move will let them focus on developing and marketing their Top-Flite, Ben Hogan and Strata golf products, which account for about 70 percent of sales. "We become a stand-alone golf company with those three brands," said Spalding president and CEO Jim Craigie.
"It gets Spalding down to a core business and the part of their company they're most successful in," Doyle said. "And it's a good fit for Russell, which will have a strong equipment name tied to a strong clothing name." Russell, which is based in Atlanta, will continue operating the Spalding sporting goods business in the Springfield area. Most of Spalding's inflatable balls are made either in Asia or on the West Coast, and Craigie said the sale won't impact the manufacturing and distribution of Spalding equipment.

Spalding, which will likely rename itself after one its golf ball brands, will continue producing the Top-Flite, Ben Hogan and Strata balls at its Chicopee plant. The company has about 1,000 employees. Spalding was founded in 1876 by A.G. Spalding, a star pitcher for the Boston Red Stockings and later the Chicago White Sox. He retired from the mound to make baseballs.
It also was the nation's first manufacturer of basketballs after the game was invented in neighboring Springfield in the 1890s.


Claude said...

There's not much on Spalding's history out there, so thanks for your informative and poignant post. I'm happy to say that I was able to add to the collection of Spalding blog content though, with this:

Official Jock Straps, Basket Ball Picnics, And More!

Can't wait to see your Part II.


rajib kumar said...

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Sports Equipment