It appears as if Major League Baseball's official on-field caps are about to lose quality and morality.
Washington Nationals reliever Sean Doolittle decided on Monday to reveal exactly what the ramifications were of New Era closing their production facility in upstate New York earlier in 2018. Ahead of the 2019 season, New Era has decided to maintain production of their replica caps in overseas facilities, while honoring the portion of their contract that says they must produce the authentic, on-field materials in the states...by cheaply outsourcing said labor to unskilled, non-union workers in Florida.
MLB has an exclusive deal with New Era to make our on-field hats in the US. But now New Era is planning to close its factory in NY next month and eliminate 200 union jobs in favor of non-union (cheaper) labor. #NewEraHatsOff pic.twitter.com/V0G4vCLaud— Sean Doolittle (@whatwouldDOOdo) February 18, 2019
So, in short, company officials have opted for the far cheaper option in on-field manufacturing (in an era where head injuries to pitchers have spiked and innovation should be the name of the game). They've claimed to be refocusing on the brand on design efforts, but as Doolittle's press release makes clear, the design doesn't matter if the work is sloppier. All around, both fans and players should be prepared for a stark reduction in the quality of premium gear.
Luckily, MLB veterans are already joining Doolittle in his advocacy.
When I was in the minor leagues, My wife and I lived with a woman whose family worked in that factory since it’s inception. She showed me hats from the early years of New Era MLB, and was so proud of her connection to the game. I stand with the workers in Derby, NY #NewEraHatsOff https://t.co/RRmIQNvamg— Collin McHugh (@Collin_McHugh) February 18, 2019
But there is hope -- Doolittle notes that public pressure stopped MLB from moving away from Majestic in 2016, saving 500 highly-skilled manufacturing jobs in the process. Hope floats, but as of now, it seems like one of Major League Baseball's official partners is finally teetering on the brink, all for a marginal profit.