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Group Publisher Editor In Chief James Hartford james@sportsonesource.com 704.987.3450 Senior Business Editor Thomas J. Ryan tryan@sportsonesource.com 917.375.4699 Contributing Editors Fernando J. Delgado, Aaron H. Bible, Charlie Lunan, Matt Powell

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JULY 2012

Creative Director Teresa Hartford teresa@sportsonesource.com 704.987.3450 (x105) Graphic Designers Sebastian Restrepo Camila Amortegui camila@sportsonesource.com 704.987.3450 (x103) Special Projects Manager Dao Huynh dao@sportsonesource.com 704.987.3450 (x109) President, Sports & Outdoor Paul Gagner pgagner@sportsonesource.com 303.997.7302 VP Business Development / East Barry Gauthier barry@sportsonesource.com 774.553.5312 VP Business Development / West Barry Schrimsher bschrimsher@sportsonesource.com 503.784.6267 VP Marketing / Product Development Gregg Hartley ghartley@sportsonesource.com 561.543.7789 Chief Information Officer Mark Fine mark@sportsonesource.com 561.615.0240 (x224) Advertising Sales Account Manager / Northeast Buz Keenan buz@sportsonesource.com 201.887.5112 Advertising Sales Account Managers / Midwest Barry Kingwill & Jim Kingwill bkingwill@sportsonesource.com jkingwill@sportsonesource.com 847.537.9196 Advertising Sales Account Manager / Southeast Katie O'Donohue katieo@sportsonesource.com 828.244.3043 Circulation & Subscriptions Subs@sportsonesource.com SportsOneSource Publications Print Magazine: SGB Digital Magazines: SGB Weekly, SGB Performance TEAM Business Newsletters: The B.O.S.S. Report Sports Executive Weekly Weekly Updates: SGB, Footwear Business, Outdoor Business, Sportsman’s Business, TEAM Business SportsOneSource Research SportScanInfo, OIA VantagePoint, SOS Research

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FEATURES 7 concussion awareness is Front and Center In the Diamond Sports Market 11 NFHS Softball Update 12 BBCOR Bat Manufacturers Focus on Key Areas of Improvement 14 GLOVES for Spring2013 Comfort and Fit are Top Priority 16 SOFTBALL UNIFORMS Subtle Nuances in Style and Manufacturing for Spring 2013

18 HELMETS AND PROTECTIVE EQUIPMENT - ”Less is more” Cutting Edge Technology DEPARTMENTS 20 CALENDAR

ON THE COVER Baseball & Softball …TEAM Business takes a look at the state of the industry Copyright 2012 SportsOneSource, LLC. All rights reserved. The opinions expressed by writers and contributors to TEAM BUSINESS DIGITAL are not necessarily those of the editors or publishers. TEAM BUSINESS DIGITAL is not responsible for unsolicited manuscripts, photographs or artwork. Articles appearing in TEAM BUSINESS DIGITAL may not be reproduced in whole or in part without the express permission of the publisher. TEAM BUSINESS DIGITAL is published monthly by SportsOneSource, LLC, 2151 Hawkins Street, Suite 200, Charlotte, NC 28203; 704.987.3450. Send address changes to TEAM BUSINESS DIGITAL , 2151 Hawkins Street, Suite 200, Charlotte, NC 28203; 704.987.3450


Head

First Concussion Awareness is front and center in the diamond sports market By Fernando J. Delgado

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n surveying the current landscape of the diamond sports market, and looking ahead to Spring 2013, it is clear that the stagnant economy and athletic department roster crunches at the school levels have forced consumers to adopt a selective and value-based approach to purchasing baseball and softball equipment. Now that manufacturers, retailers and players have had a chance to adjust last year’s initial confusion over the new BBCOR bat requirements, which drastically altered inventory for all team dealers and retailers, other issues such as concussion awareness are now getting national attention in the baseball and softball market. Retail point-of-sale data provided by SportScanInfo shows mixed results year-to-date by equipment category for diamond sports: • Baseball Helmet Sales are Up 15 percent and Protective Sales are Up 8 percent, reflecting the ever-increasing concussion awareness trend and associated demand for better protection. • Baseball and Softball Bat Sales are Down 8 percent and 7 percent respectively. • Sales of Balls are Up 2 percent, while Uniform Sales are Flat. • The strong protective equipment sales reflect numbers from last year, as Baseball Helmet Sales were Up 18 percent and Protective Sales Increased 12 percent in 2011. • Notable differences in the year-to-date sales figures compared to 2011 can be found in Uniforms, which were Down 12 percent last year; Gloves, Down 3 percent in 2011; and Softball Bats, were Flat last year. Phil Snyder, VP of team sales at Schuylkill Valley Sports in Allentown, PA, believes that the economy and cost increases adversely affected some sales for team dealers over the past year. “I think the biggest hurdle this year was that there was such a big increase in the cost of baseballs and the cost of protective gear - there was a big jump in the price of imports - that we saw people being much more careful shopping around,” he said. “It will be interesting to see where costs are from a supplier’s and importer’s standpoint when we go to the buying shows in June and July.” The impact of the new BBCOR bat rules, which were fully implemented at the high school level for the 2012 season, was one of the biggest stories of the past year. Players and bat sellers have now had time to adjust to the new bat standard created by the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS), the rules-making body for high school sports. Elliot Hopkins, director of educational services, baseball rules editor, and liaison to the Baseball Rules Committee for the NFHS, offered a comprehensive look at the ramifications of the new standard now that the 2012 high school baseball season is in the books. “The Committee’s overall feeling is that they’re very pleased with BBCOR,” said Hopkins. “They think it was a good decision and think this particular standard is good for our game.” Hopkins detailed several positive effects of the BBCOR bat standard, noting that the new bats have shortened games and changed the style of play for the better, allowing more players to contribute and bringing fundamentals back into high school baseball. “It’s done a number of things,” he explained. “It’s cut time of play about 30 to 40 minutes shorter, which I think is really good for the game. We believe it’s allowed the pitcher to

pitch more inside, something the pitcher has not had the opportunity to do as much in the past. It’s allowed more play in the infield, giving the defense more chances to play balls, as opposed to looking over their shoulder when a ball gets hit over their head. It has brought small ball back into the game, and for certain athletes of different statures, that’s great, because some Phil Snyder, VP of team sales at Schuylkill kids don’t have the size and Valley Sports in Allentown, PA strength to pound the ball out of the park. They can now lay down a bunt, run like the wind, and get to first base, and help their team win that way. It’s changed the whole dynamic of high school baseball because it’s allowed a lot more strategy, and it’s allowed coaches the opportunity to teach more. We’re really happy about that.” Hopkins also made a point to emphasize a more alarming trend in high school baseball and softball bat tampering. Moving forward into next year, the NFHS will continue to make it a priority to identify and halt players who alter their bats illegally to unfairly gain an edge in performance. “We still have an over-arching concern about people who are cheating by having bats altered,” he said. “That’s not going away. We’re exhausting every resource, every idea, and every scientific technique available to figure out the best way to identify the cheaters.” Aside from the market adjusting to the commotion caused by the arrival of BBCOR bats, Schuylkill Valley Sports’ Snyder added that he has noticed customer buying habits focusing more on protective gear recently. “There are two different aspects,” he observed. “When you deal with leagues or orga- Elliot Hopkins, director of educational nizations, they’re still looking services and the interim liason to the Softball Rules Committee for the NFHS to get good quality, but they’re also looking for a good price point in value-oriented gear. Individuals, on the other hand, are looking to buy premium and better-grade protective gear.” Snyder’s observation of customers spending more on protective gear confirms one of the most recent trends in baseball and softball: concussion awareness and the resulting demand for better protection. With concussion-related stories dominating the news in professional sports, national awareness of the importance of concussion prevention has come into focus as one of the most prominent hot-button issues in sports over the past several years. SPORTSONESOURCE.COM

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In the NFL, the recent high-profile suicide of former star Junior Seau sparked further controversy over the safety of football, while former players continue to file new law suits against the league alleging the lack of proper concussion treatment and diagnosis. Major League Baseball has also made concussion awareness a priority, creating a new 7-day disabled list installed during the 2011 season to allow team doctors and players to better address head injuries. Both the NFL and MLB have started assigning specialists and physicians to each of their teams with the goal of diagnosing, treating, and preventing concussions. All the attention given to concussion prevention has not been lost on younger baseball and softball players. Protection has become a top priority for players of all ages in the form of helmets and other protective gear, particularly for their parents, who have shown a unique tendency to spend more on protective equipment for their sons and daughters despite spending less and more selectively on other equipment categories. “Obviously, the concussion issue is front and center with virtually all sports, and especially youth sports,” said Tom Cove, president of the Sporting Goods Manufacturers Association (SGMA). “With baseball being a sport with such a high degree of participation, concussions, concussion protection, and head protection in baseball is an issue.” Cove also pointed out that, despite the prominence of concussion awareness in the sport, the rates of serious injury in baseball are much lower than other sports such as football. “When you look at the number of catastrophic injuries in baseball, the numbers are very low,” he explained. “Just the fact that everyone’s paying attention to head protection, given the number of kids that play, and with all the moving parts involved - between the ball, the bat, and players running into people, those 3 things - lending themselves to the potential for injury, means there will always be concern. On one hand, baseball is one of the safest sports. On the other hand, because it’s front and center, head protection will continue to be important.” Art Chou, senior vice president, product, at Rawlings Sporting Goods/Jarden Team Sports, concurs that head protection has become more essential for players. “The big trend has been the awareness of concussions,” said Chou. “In football it has certainly been the hot topic for at least a year, and it’s crossing over into baseball and softball. As parents read more about it, and become more aware, they’re more concerned with their kids’ safety on the field. I would say the awareness of concussions, incidents of concussions, and what to do about 6

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Art Chou, senior vice president, product, at Rawlings Sporting Goods / Jarden Team Sports

them, is probably the hottest topic right now.” One reason for increasing concussion awareness is due to growing scientific research aimed at better understanding concussions. The NFHS’ Hopkins in particular has seen the effects of such research on players at the high school level first-hand. “We’ve noticed that there are

more injury surveillance numbers, and that the number of reports on concussions has gone up,” he shared. “And it’s not because we’ve had more kids who have been concussed, it’s that the knowledge and education about concussions have increased dramatically, so now if a player shows the symptoms of a concussion, the coaches are wisely taking him out of play and following the proper procedure before the player returns to the field. The identification process is more prevalent and better known. Parents are now identifying when little Jimmy comes home with a concussion, so we have parents looking at it, and coaches looking at it, so we have a lot more concerned eyes watching young people play. And that’s a good thing.” New products are another result of concussion awareness and research. SGMA’s Cove stated that, heading into next spring and the new youth baseball season, manufacturers of helmets and protective gear designed to prevent concussions will be offering their products to the diamond sports market with an emphasis on technology, safety, and performance.


“There is a strong desire from both manufacturers and the customer base to get into the market with the best products possible,” he said. “There’s always room for innovation and there’s always room for improvements in quality. Even though concussions are not a common occurrence in baseball and softball, they are intuitively an injury that could happen.” Rawlings’ Chou offered a valuable perspective from a manufacturer’s viewpoint. He believes a better understanding of the concussion issue and its ramifications on youth players can be gained by taking a look at the highest level of professional baseball. “One perspective is major league baseball,” he said. “The MLB for years had used the same helmets and the same helmet standards. When we [at Rawlings] introduced the S100 helmet two seasons ago for the first time, initially there were some players who were interested, but they were in the minority.” Chou explained that one reason for the player’s reluctance to use the S100 was that it was a noticeably bigger helmet. It featured an Expanded Poly Propylene (EPP) liner, similar to a bicycle helmet, which functions to absorb a lot of the impact. “Players didn’t see a need for the added protection versus the tradeoff to a helmet that was bigger,” he continued. “Fast forward two years, and the MLB was certainly interested in giving players the maximum amount of protection on field, so they asked us, ‘Can you give us the same level of protection, but without increasing the size or weight of the current helmet too much?’ We went back and redeveloped the helmets.” According to Chou, when Rawlings updated their helmet for the MLB, instead of relying on the EPP liner, which made it thicker and bigger than the previous S100 helmet, developers stiffened up the shell substantially. To do that, Rawlings utilized a full carbon fiber shell, making the shell the primary source of protection instead of the EPP liner. The end result was the S100 Pro Comp helmet. “It’s very expensive to make, but it’s also extremely rigid and extremely stiff. We brought it out to the MLB at the 2011 All-Star Game, and they wanted to get it in place as soon as possible.” Rawlings now has a few hundred S100 Pro Comp helmets currently in use by major league players, and the MLB will mandate leaguewide use of the helmet in 2013 as outlined in the new 5-year collective bargaining agreement. “I think there are two things to take from it. The increased awareness of head protection was there, so the players and the management were all more aware of increased incidents of head injuries, but also at the same time, we got the size and weight of the helmet below the point where it was objectionable. The timing was right for the 2013 season.” SPORTSONESOURCE.COM

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As major league baseball remains the ultimate influence on college, high school, and youth baseball players, Chou believes that helmets used by amateur players will gradually approach the technological advancements of those used by major leaguers. Players and their parents have already started shifting their spending habits when it comes to head protection, and the high-end technological features of helmets used in the major leagues will likely trickle down to helmets available at retail for younger players in the near future. “In the past, there’s been the perception that all helmets give you the same amount of protection,” Chou stated. “And I think that the purchase decision for batting helmets in particular was based on style, and then features - like whether the pads were wrapped or whether the helmets were sized or came in a one-size-fits-all - more of the bells and whistles, as opposed to the protective aspect.” “Moving forward, parents will be more interested in learning about the protection being provided by the helmet, and they will be willing to spend more to get more protection,” said Chou. “That is the direction that we plan on taking as a company [at Rawlings]. Certainly not everybody can afford a full carbon helmet of the major league players, but there is room between that helmet and the helmets that are being used right now - the ones that are based more on price as opposed to performance - for people that want to choose a higher-performance helmet, and we intend on being able to fill that gap for them.” Innovation, such as that shown by Rawlings in their development of MLB’s new helmets, has led to the introduction of new helmets on the field of play including fielder’s helmets and pitcher’s helmets. According to SGMA’s Cove, there are several new efforts to consider such as the recent passing of a standard to final status for fielder’s helmets for baseball and softball by the National Operating Committee on Standards for Athletic Equipment (NOCSAE). Despite the fact that fielder’s helmets have not yet been required to be worn by any national bodies or organizations such as the NCAA or NFHS, the establishment of a standard leaves open the possibility of increased usage in the near future. As a result, there is now an ongoing discussion whether new types of helmets are appropriate. Variations include helmets for pitchers, and helmets for third and first basemen - the other position players closest to the ball off the bat - helmets for coaches, and even helmets for base runners. “It’s likely in the future that there will be more people wearing helmets on the field, depending on what level of participation and what level of regulation,” Cove stated, before adding that the California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) became one of the first state federations to recommend the use of a fielder’s helmet in its sanctioned games. Even though the helmets are not yet required by the CIF, such a recommendation certainly suggests that increased usage of fielder’s helmets could be on the horizon. Manufacturers are expected to bring more fielders’ helmets to the retail marketplace as they become more common. Rawlings currently has a fielder’s helmet available, and inventory of Easton’s FH1 Fielder/Pitcher helmet is still available at online retailers even though the model has been discontinued from Easton’s product line. According to the NFHS’ Hopkins, fielder’s helmets are approved for usage at the high school level, but that the typical helmet worn by fielders are actually batting helmets, due to the lack of widespread availability of specifically-designed fielder’s helmets. He added that using batting helmets to double as a helmet in the field might not 8

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Tom Cove, president of the Sporting Goods Manufacturers Association (SGMA)

necessarily provide adequate protection, and that more studying of. “The challenge is that the traditional batting helmet is only tested and rated for when the ball is coming in – being pitched – and it has not been tested when measuring the impact of batted balls. That was the only protective device that we had. We were the originators of asking NOCSAE to come up with the fielder’s helmet standard because there seemed to be a need.” So the question arises: What would it take for fielder’s helmets to become more commonplace on the baseball or softball field? SGMA’s Cove believes the answer can be found in the news and in our culture’s national awareness of concussions, as concern arises whenever a highly publicized serious injury occurs. “We in the sports protection industry are subject to influences outside of our industry, particularly highly emotional ones,” he said. “And those are generally the high-profile, or highly-sad and catastrophic injuries, somehow getting into the public eye. Whether or not they are infrequent, high-profile catastrophic injuries bring sadness to everyone. That is a reality we face, and even though it might be somewhat irrational at times, it may be an influence that exists.” The NFHS’ Hopkins offered his outlook on the future usage of fielder’s helmets at the high school level, believing that the helmet is likely best-suited for younger, less experienced players. “Do I think that in the next five years every high school team is going to have fielder’s helmets? No, I do not,” stated Hopkins. “I think it would be key for sub-varsity teams, when the kids are just learning the game. I think it would provide another layer of protection for them until they get their timing and their mechanics down in terms of how to correctly field balls in play. But as they mature and progress within the sport and experience success and gain some repetition and some muscle memory, I think they probably will not feel that they will need it.” Despite continued economic challenges nationwide and inclement weather in some parts of the country hurting sales to start the baseball season this year, the diamond sports market seems to be transitioning to a less tenuous position. As team dealers and retailers hope for more stability in the marketplace, baseball and softball players will continue to keep track of technological advancements for all of their equipment particularly protective gear - in an effort to improve and be safer before it’s time to play ball again next spring. ■


NFHS SOFTBALL UPDATE Elliot Hopkins, director of educational services and the interim liason to the Softball Rules Committee for the NFHS, updates TEAM Business on high school softball.

Bat-Tampering As with baseball, the NFHS is ramping up efforts to stop bat tampering. “We have concerns that people are cheating,” explained Hopkins. “They’re doing things to the bat to get more performance, and what we don’t want is to put someone’s child at additional risk.” He said that the NFHS will be stepping up its efforts to increase awareness of the issue, identifying altered bats, and preventing such bats from being used in high school games.

Optic Yellow Softball The NFHS is pleased with its decision to move from the traditional white softball to the optic yellow ball, which has made high school softball safer. “The move to the optic yellow ball was a great move. We’re not even going to allow white balls in play anymore,” said Hopkins. “The optic yellow ball is much better because everyone can see it – batters, defensive players, all involved.”

Cleats The rule change allowing the use of metal cleats has been in effect since 2008, and the NFHS feels that metal cleats gives softball players better traction and balance, and prevents accidents as a result of sliding on hard surfaces, wet grass, or home plate. “The move to cleats has been fantastic,” he commented.

Sliding Injuries The NHFS is concerned by an increase in injuries as a result of sliding. “We’ve seen an increase of injuries while sliding - a significant number,” observed Hopkins. “That tells us that our high school coaches need to practice sliding more during practices.” He added that available statistics do not specify exactly how the injuries are occurring and that more research will be conducted in the coming year to determine exactly how the injuries are happening. To meet that goal, the NFHS will be employing Dr. Dawn Comstock’s RIO (Reporting Information Online) System in conjunction with The Ohio State University’s Center for Injury Research and Policy. The NFHS hopes to determine if most injuries are occurring as a result of head first sliding, feet-first sliding, hip sliding, or other incidents of contact. “You can’t really make a national rule based on hearsay, or a few cases,” explained Hopkins. “With our online injury surveillance system, we will be able to identify what types of injuries and what types of sliding are associated. There will be some key decisions we’ll be able to make that are based on facts, and not anecdotal information. The surveillance system will be key for us and for all our sports in terms of making key decisions and writing rules.”

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Getting Into the Swing

BBCOR Bat Manufacturers focus on new areas of improvement By Fernando J. Delgado

From left to right: 1. Louisville Slugger Exogrid 3 Bat meets BBCOR standards, employs Flex Band Technology with a 1”-wide graphite band giving the bat low swing weight. LS-2X composite / AC21 hybrid, 2 5/8” barrel, -3oz without grip, 2-color end cap, synthetic grip and 31/32” tapered handle. MSRP n/a 2. Akadema Tracktion 6 Series Hard Maple Bat with patented Tracktion grip, extra large barrel, 7/8” handle and 1 7/8” knob. MSRP $85 3. Marucci’s Team BBCOR –3 Bat is a balanced one-piece aluminum design, with military-grade, anti-vibration technology in the handle grip that shields the player from the sting of off-center hits. Available in 31”-34”. MSRP $200 4. Mizuno’s Classic Maple Bat provides balanced design for maximum swing speed and is cupped for balanced swing weight. MSRP $98 5. Rawlings BBVelo Velo –3 Highschool/Collegiate Bat with 5150 alloy composite Comp-Lite end cap, Bifusion technology, and pOp Barrel. MSRP $300 6. Worth’s 4545 Legit –12 Fastpitch Softball Bat with patented 454 technology extends the sweet spot in both directions offering balanced loading and FPEX Power Grip. Available in –8, -9, and –10 drops. MSRP $340

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ith players, manufacturers, and sellers of baseball and softball products now adjusted to a full season with BBCOR regulations in place at the high school level and above, 2013 should offer further stability and reliability when it comes to bats. BBCOR bat manufacturers will keep their focus on new areas of improvement - including such characteristics as feel, balance, graphics and appearance, and handle features - now that regulations have made bat performance more standardized. Meanwhile, other bat-makers continue to add and develop wood bats to their product lines, including maple, ash, and bamboo models. Many manufacturers and sellers in the bat market believed that, since BBCOR bats were designed to perform more like wood bats, there would be an increase in wood bat sales with more baseball players transitioning over to the bat used by the highest professional levels. While that has turned out to be the case for the most part, the change has not been as pronounced as anticipated. “We thought we would potentially see a big spike in wood bat sales with the transition from BESR to BBCOR, but we didn’t see a huge jump,” said Chad Robertson, business unit manager, bats and batting gloves, at Mizuno USA. “Our wood numbers did increase from the BBCOR transition, but not as much as we initially thought.” Robertson added that Mizuno experienced a record year for bamboo bat sales in 2011, while it’s maple business has flat-lined somewhat, as the maple market is “more competitive” than the bamboo market. 10

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Mizuno has also received positive feedback from players with regards to the rich finish of its wood bats, which is high-end and furniture-grade. “The finish is one thing that makes our bats stand out on the shelf,” Robertson said. “Obviously the quality is something that we have tremendous pride in.” He said that, ultimately, listening to customer feedback helps drive the direction of bat development for Mizuno. The Japanese word “kaizen” - meaning “continuous improvement” - is central to Mizuno’s approach to bat making. Such considerations helped lead to the development of improved bats for Spring 2013, including a lighter swinging maple bat than previous models, as well as stronger and more durable maple bats thanks to reinforced tapered portions. Robertson feels that the transition to BBCOR has made the bat market extremely competitive. Even though Mizuno does not currently offer a non-wood bat line, Robertson has noticed that various bat companies have adjusted to the new marketplace by finding new areas to improve upon while staying within performance guidelines. “The BBCOR regulations have made it a little more challenging to distinguish products,” he said. “It seems like other manufacturers are getting more creative. It’s been fun to watch how things have transitioned.” Such creativity is evident in the various new models available in 2013 from the manufacturers, including relative newcomers like Marucci, and traditional bat-makers like Louisville Slugger, Easton, Rawlings, and Worth, among others. ■


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Fits Like a Glove

For baseball and softball players, finding a glove with a soft, comfortable fit is the main priority Fernando J. Delgado

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ielding gloves are perhaps the single-most personal item for a baseball or softball player, something evident in looking at various glove lines that will be available for Spring 2013. Preferences for the feel of the leather, fit of the glove, and range of flexibility vary from player to player, and oftentimes the only way for a player to choose their glove is to try on various models at the store. “With fielding gloves, more today than ever before, players can grab the glove off the store shelf, put it on, and be playing with it that day,” said Brendan McCarthy, marketing manager for Franklin Sports. “Break-in time for the fielding glove has really been cut down.” Players seek improved feel and flexibility, made possible by leather-softening processes and oil-based conditioning so that they can quickly introduce their gloves to game conditions. “I think the biggest thing we’re seeing right now in fielding gloves is ready-to-play materials,” observed McCarthy. “When you get the glove, it’s almost as though it’s already broken in.”

Fielding gloves are an item that players usually won’t purchase online, unlike other items such as bats and protective gear. “I don’t think we’ve seen as big of a rise in Internet sales of gloves because players need to get that proper fit,” said McCarthy. “Today, consumers are so technologically savvy that they’re buying most goods online. But I think that when it comes down to fielding gloves, customers need to go into those team dealers and purchase their glove, and get it to fit correctly, because it is an important part of what they’re doing on the field.” He added that, for batting gloves, players are responding well to color schemes that match their team uniform colors. With more colors, fits, and feels available for both fielding and batting gloves than ever before, comfort and individuality will lead players to their choice of leather on the diamond next spring. ■


1. Champro’s MVP-1000 Leather Fielder’s Glove has a 13" pocket pattern, and cowhide leather palm; leather thumb overlay provides extra web stability and shape retention, and areinforced "T" bar open web. MSRP $40 2. Louisville Slugger’s Zephyr Series Fastpitch Softball Glove has a Buffalo leather palm with nylon mesh back; Cool Max finger linings; bruise guard padding and dye through lacing. Model Z1275 shown. MSRP $50 3. Franklin’s CFX Pro Series Batting Glove is used on-field in major league baseball. One-piece leather palm provides a seamless feel on the bat, Neoprene bridge adds flex across the knuckle back. Floating thumb technology increases glove flexibility and adaptability. TriCurve Technology is designed to the anatomy of the hand to reduce bunching and improve the fit. Available in Youth and Adult sizes. MSRP $35

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4. Worth’s Legit Fastpitch Series Glove offers custom-fitting hand adjustments and full-grade, double-tanned, pro-grade shell leather, for shape retention. MSRP $180 5. Franklin’s RTP Pro Series Fielding Glove is made with premium pigskin construction so no break-in is required in a lighter, more flexible offering. Shown is the 13" Brown/Chocolate Brown model. MSRP $40 6. Rawlings’ Heart of the Hide Pro Mesh Yadier Molina Catcher’s Mitt is recommended for the adult or elite player, features a one piece closed web, and a 34" pattern - the largest model made by Rawlings. The glove forms a good pocket to control the ball and scoop up pitches MSRP $220

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7. Louisville Slugger’s Valkyrie Fastpitch Softball Series Glove is made from premium grade, oil-treated leather, and has narrow fingerstalls and a smaller wrist opening for optimal fit. Bruise guard padding offers added protection. Shown is the VK1175 model. MSRP $90 8. Louisville Slugger’s HD9 Hybrid Defense Series Gloves made with oil-treated leather, dye-through lacing and zero gravity, performance mesh. Shown is the XH1175SS infield model. MSRP $150 9. Mizuno’s Pro Limited Edition Outfielder’s Glove is a super-premium, high-end offering and includes an off-season conditioning program, with a one-time repair and reconditioning of the glove. MSRP $500

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10. Mizuno’s Classic Fastpitch Softball Glove is made of throwback leather - naturally pre-oiled to keep its shape over time. Shown is the GCF1253 model. MSRP $170 11. Akadema’s ABH 99 Bryce Harper Signature Youth Glove consists of an 11.5” pattern, H-web, open back, medium pocket, mesh back, and leather palm. MSRP $45 12. Louisville Slugger’s Omaha Flare Glove is made with top grade, oil-treated leather, and a flare design preferred by top professional and collegiate players. It also has extra-wide, dye-through lacing. Shown is the OFL1276 outfield model. MSRP $120

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13. Louisville Slugger’s Pro Flare Glove is made with professional grade, oil-infused leather. A flare design provides a larger catching surface with flat pocket. Shown is the FL1275CC outfield model. MSRP $200 14. Champro’s Advance Performance Fielder’s Glove is a 12” glove with a 3-piece ergonomically designed full-grain, pigskin leather palm. The Ergo-Fit adjustable wrist system creates optimum fit and control. MSRP $40 15. Mizuno’s MVP Prime Special Edition Glove is available to order by booking program only. Shown is Model GMVP1154SE. MSRP $150

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You Gotta Look Good to Play Good For Spring 2013, Baseball and Softball Uniforms offer subtle style and design enhancements By Fernando J. Delgado

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hile baseball and softball uniforms have remained largely consistent over the past several years, subtle nuances in style changes and improved manufacturing technologies can be found in various jersey and pant offerings for players and teams taking the field next season. Performance fabrics, specifically moisture-wicking properties and lighter-weight materials, are most in demand in uniforms. “Baseball and softball are pretty much traditional sports when it comes to uniforms, but you still have to come up with some new designs and new looks,” said Mark Snyder, merchandise manager of baseball, softball, and track at Russell Athletic. Snyder also pointed out that sublimation - the direct dyeing of colors, numbers, logos, names into the fabric - is a technological trend that is becoming more commonplace in jerseys. “The sublimation process has really taken off in baseball and softball,” he stated, adding that price points on sublimated jerseys have come down recently, making them more affordable for athletic programs and players. In recent years, sublimated jerseys were seen more at the travel baseball level, but more and more teams at the youth recreational levels and at high schools are springing for sublimation in their uniforms. “Sublimation is actually not as expensive as twill is, so it’s becoming more valuable to the customer,” said Snyder. He added that other trends emerging for baseball uniforms include an increase in the usage of stirrups, players wearing their pants higher as part of a more traditional look, and more open-bottom, baggier pants. When it comes to fastpitch softball, players are gradually moving away from the traditional shorts heading into next season. “One trend I’m seeing more of is that girl’s softball teams are getting more into pants,” said Phil Snyder, VP of team sales at Schuylkill Valley Sports in Allentown, PA. Increased usage of pants seems to be gaining momentum at the more competitive levels, including travel teams, the high schools level, and college level. “Five or six years ago, you would see about half of all softball players wearing shorts,” observed Russell Athletic’s Snyder. “Now when you go to a competitive softball tournament, say, age 13 and above, you might have one out of ten teams wearing shorts. At the college level, it’s even less teams wearing shorts.” For both baseball and softball players, performance is the primary consideration, but thanks to improving technologies in materials and construction, teams will boast a sharper and more colorful look as they take the field next spring. ■

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1. Mizuno’s Full-Button 100% Mesh Polyester Jersey has the option of custom lettering. Mechanical mesh provides UV protection and frontside air mesh offers ventilation. Offered in multiple colors and sizes. MSRP $53 2. Russell Athletic’s Women’s Faux Placket Pullover Jersey with VT stretch mesh can be customized with braid around the neck and down the front. The faux placket option gives a cleaner look. Available in eight team colors and sizes. MSRP $45

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3. Champro’s Dri-Gear Full-Button Jersey is a full cut shirt with raglan sleeves, serged bottom, 6-button front, offering contrasting color shoulder inserts, piped side panels and polyester flat back mesh. MSRP n/a

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4. Champro’s Racer Back Softball Jersey designed for women has a hemmed bottom and made of 100 percent polyester flat back Dri-Gear mesh. MSRP $24 5. Easton’s Sanctioned 2-Button Front Jersey comes in a variety of colors, youth and adult sizes, is made of 100 percent mid-weight polyester with BioDri, UV protection and stain resistance. MSRP $25 5

6. Russell Athletic’s Long Sleeve Semi-Mock Performance Jersey with Dri-Power moisture wicking fabric, 1¼” self-material mock neck, and tapered sleeve comes in multiple sizes and colors. MSRP $36

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7. Alleson Athletic’s Sublimated Full-Button Mock Mesh Baseball Jersey and Stock PROWLP Baseball Pant are made of 100 percent mock mesh polyester with moisture management fibers and soil release finish. MSRP $76-82 (Jersey, depending on style); $44 (PROWLP Pant) 8. Worth’s FPEX Stock Fastpitch Softball Uniform includes FPXFBJ Ladies’ Full Button Jersey and TLBP Ladies’ Low-Rise, Zipped Front Belted Pant both are made of 100 percent nylon moisture management fabric with stain release. MSRP $33 (Jersey), $32 (Pant)

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9. Russell Athletic’s Women’s Low Rise Zipper Fly Softball Pant is made with 47 Cloth, a stretch nylon double knit and constructed with two set-in rear pockets, double knees, a two-snap closure, and brass zipper that hits 2” below the natural waist. MSRP $60 10. Easton’s Quantum Plus Pant with Piping is made with 100 percent polyester Dri-Fabric and features the patent pending Inseam Adjustment System – the length of the back of the pant can be adjusted for a custom fit. MSRP $40

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11. Champro Women’s Performance Tapered Pant with Piping is made from 14 oz. warp knit, Dri-Gear polyester fabric and cut specifically for women. MSRP $30

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Maximum Protection Baseball and softball players continue to seek out cutting edge technology in helmets and protective equipment that provides the greatest safety at the lightest weight possible By Fernando J. Delgado

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rotective gear available in Spring 2013 will focus on meeting the demands of baseball and softball players who emphasize the “less is more” movement seen in all sports. Helmets, catcher’s gear, and protective items such as pads, guards, and performance apparel employ increasingly superior technologies to function in a lightweight and comfortable manner. With concussion awareness becoming a more central aspect of baseball and softball, players and their parents are spending more on helmets and protective gear - despite persistent economic concerns and school athletic budget cuts. Glenn Beckmann, director of marketing communications at Schutt Sports, believes that technological advancements in helmets and other protective items will continue to define the category for manufacturers and the players who use their offerings in the field. “What we’re trying to do is take our technology from the football side and bring it over to the diamond sports side – baseball and softball,” explained Beckmann. “We’ve tried to do it before, but we were never able to do it in a cost-efficient manner that brought it to market as an affordable batter’s helmet for baseball and softball programs. Now, we’ve done that with the Air Pro Maxx and the Air Maxx T batting helmets, which have our TP cushioning in them.” Such technological advancements balance maximum protection and mobility with minimum weight. “We’re always looking for ‘lighter, stronger, faster’,” said Beckmann. “Everybody wants helmets and catcher’s gear to be lighter and stronger, while still being able to move, so we’re always looking for different materials and processes. And primarily it’s what’s on the inside that we’ve been focusing on.” For Schutt and other manufacturers such as Rawlings, McDavid, EvoShield, Louisville Slugger, Easton, Mizuno, Xenith and many others, lighter-weight and structurallystrengthened lining and cushioning have led to better, safer equipment. While safety is king, appearance and style in helmets and other protective gear also matter to players. “One of the trends we’re seeing more of is one we started, which is the customization of the aesthetics of helmets, putting Aqua Tech graphics, different paint finishes, and trying out different combinations on our helmets,” observed Schutt’s Beckmann, who added that an increasing number of teams have expressed interest in using Schutt’s graphic designs, including the University of Maryland, as part of its participation with the Wounded Warrior Project, and the Team USA National Softball Team, which in May unveiled custom Aqua Tech batting helmets for use during the 2012 season. ■


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1. Champro’s NOCSAE Youth Hel-Max OnePiece Catcher’s Helmet has a one-piece ABS shell, multi-density pad system, AirTech ventilation, and built-in throat guard. MSRP $60 2. Rawlings’ CoolFlo XV1 Batting Helmet has an ABS shell, meets NOCSAE standards, and uses CoolFlo XV1 venting technology. Heat Exchange vents circulate cooler ambient air. Shown is the CFX1AMA Matte finish model. MSRP $55 3. Schutt’s Customized Helmet with Aqua Tech Graphics offers TPU Cushioning. Custom graphics are available for the AiR Maxx T, AiR-7, and other models. MSRP $45 and up (depending on customized options). 4. Louisville Slugger’s CH TPX Catcher’s Helmet for high school and college baseball catchers features molded closed cell foam, moisture wicking cupped chin pad, and vision protection. Meets NOCSAE standard. MSRP $90

7. Champro’s H4 Performance Batting Helmet protects with a dualdensity pad system. A ponytail gap makes this helmet ideal for male and female players. MSRP $30 8. Xenith’s X1 Batting Helmet offers tuned shock absorbers and passes NOCSAE standards for baseball and softball without an oversized shell. MSRP $60 9. Champro’s Pro Plus Chest Protector has a perforated AirTech pad ventilation system and Dri-Gear moisture wicking lining. An adult size is 17.5” in length. MSRP $60 10. Schutt’s S3 Catcher’s Chest Protector features a reversible design with permeable wide weave mesh over hundreds of perforated protective foam panels to maximize ventilation. MSRP $80

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11. Mizuno’s Pro Chest Protector G2 uses Low Rebound Technology to help catchers keep blocked balls close by. A 4-way stretch design moves with the catcher. MSRP $175 12. Easton’s Synge Fastpitch Softball Chest Protector for women has a form fitting shoulder arch design, and an ultra-lightweight protective inner and outer foam layer. MSRP $110

5. Schutt’s AiR Maxx T Helmet is the first molded helmet to feature TPU Cushioning. Available for both baseball and softball in sizes XS - XL; AiR-Pro Series also available. MSRP $50

13. McDavid’s Youth Hex Confidence Shirt uses 9mm Hex Technology to protect the sternum and gut area, and 3mm Hex Technology to protect ribs and shoulders. hDc moisture management technology keeps players cool and dry. MSRP $30

6. Rawlings’ CoolFlo XV1 Batting Helmet meets NOCSAE standards and has a new pad configuration for better fit. CoolFlo XV1 venting technology offers air circulation. MSRP $40

14. McDavid’s Cross Compression Hex Sliding Short with thigh cross compression technology mimics the athletic trainer-taping pattern. 3mm Hex Technology offers body-to-ground impact protection. The short is engineered to prevent or aid in the recovery of hamstring and quad pulls, and uses hDc moisture management technology. MSRP $45

15. EvoShield’s Compression Baseball Slider with Cup features moisture management and reinforced abrasion fabric on the sides for sliding without compromising movement and flexibility. MSRP $40 16. EvoShield’s ProStyle Protective Batting Gloves are custom-molded with one-piece PowerStretch breathable fabric. Pittards digital leather in the palm features an EvoShield grip pattern placed in the fingers and heel. MSRP $60 17. Schutt’s S3 Catcher’s Leg Guards offer less plastic for a lighter and more breathable product. Knee gel pads cushion around the patella. MSRP $80

SPORTSONESOURCE.COM

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CALENDAR AUGUST

SEPTEMBER

1

Outdoor Retailer Open Air Demo Salt Lake City, UT

6-8

1-3

FFANY New York, NY

7-9

NBS Fall Semi-Annual Market Fort Worth, TX

2-5

Outdoor Retailer Summer Market Salt Lake City, UT

9-11

Sports Inc. Outdoor Show Indianapolis, IN

7-9

WSA Show Las Vegas, NV

12-14

Imprinted Sportswear Show (ISS) Las Vegas, NV

10-11

Sports Inc. Outdoor Show Indianapolis, IN

19-21 Health & Fitness Business Expo Las Vegas, NV

12-14

Imprinted Sportswear Show (ISS) Las Vegas, NV

19-21 Interbike International Trade Expo Las Vegas, NV

16-19

Bike Expo 2012 Munich, Germany

27-29

17-19

Altanta Shoe Market Atlanta, GA

Surf Expo Orlando, FL

Imprinted Sportswear Show (ISS) Fort Worth, TX

OCTOBER

20-22 PGA Expo Las Vegas, NV

3-5

OIA Rendezvous Boston, MA

20-23

6-7

The Retailing Summit Dallas, TX

MAGIC Las Vegas, NV

28-31 Worldwide Fall Show Reno, NV

NOVEMBER 3-4

NBS Fall Athletic Market Indianapolis, IN

8-9

TAG Fall/Winter Show N. Charleston, SC

13-14

A.D.A. Fall Show Las Vegas, NV

18-20

Sports Inc. Athletic Show Las Vegas, NV

DECEMBER 3-4

Sports Inc. Footwear & Apparel St. Charles, MO

TRADE ASSOCIATIONS | BUYING GROUPS

For full year calendar go to sportsonesource.com/events

Athletic Dealers of America 1395 Highland Avenue Melbourne, FL 32935 t 321.254.0091 f 321.242.7419 athleticdealersofamerica.com National Sporting Goods Assn. 1601 Feehanville Drive / Suite 300 Mount Prospect, IL 60056 t 847.296.6742 f 847.391.9827 nsga.org Nation’s Best Sports 4216 Hahn Blvd. Ft. Worth, TX 76117 t 817.788.0034 f 817.788.8542 nationsbestsports.com SGMA 8505 Fenton Street Silver Spring, MD 20910 t 301.495.6321 f 301.495.6322 sgma.com Sports, Inc. 333 2nd Avenue North Lewistown, MT 59457 t 406.538.3496 f 406.538.2801 sportsinc.com Team Athletic Goods 629 Cepi Drive Chesterfield, MO 63005 t 636.530.3710 f 636.530.3711 tag1.com


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