Spalding (sports equipment)
|Type||Private (subsidiary of Russell Corporation)|
(136 or 137 years ago)
|Founder(s)||Albert Spalding Jr.|
|Headquarters||Bowling Green, Kentucky, USA|
|Area served||North America
Spalding is an American sporting goods company founded by Albert Spalding in Chicago, Illinois, in 1876 and now headquartered in Bowling Green, Kentucky. The company specializes in the production of balls for many sports, but is most-known for its basketballs. Spalding also makes a range of products for baseball, soccer, softball, volleyball, and American football.
The company was founded in 1876 when Albert Spalding was a pitcher and the manager of a baseball team in Chicago, the Chicago White Stockings. The company standardized early baseballs and developed the modern baseball bat with the bulge at its apex. In 1892, Spalding acquired Wright & Ditson and A. J. Reach, both rival sporting goods companies.
In 1893, A.G. Spalding & Brothers purchased the Lamb Knitting Machine Company located in Chicopee Falls, Massachusetts and renamed it the Lamb Manufacturing Company. It used this purchase to consolidate its 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, Spalding acted as their distributor in the Western USA, and Overman contracted with Lamb to make wheels for its lower-end products.
Production of bicycles continued at the Chicopee plant through the latter part of the 19th century, but in 1899 A.G. Spalding sold its bicycle division to a massive trust called the American Bicycle Company which controlled 65% of the bicycle business in the US.
Spalding produced the well-known "Spaldeen" high-bounce rubber ball, said to be a re-use of defective tennis ball cores, 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 National League balls. Since 1977 the official ball has been made by Rawlings.
Spalding became a division of the Russell Corporation in 2003. However, that deal did not encompass Spalding's golf operations, which included the Top-Flite, Ben Hogan and Strata brands, which were eventually bought by Callaway later the same year.
Spalding developed its first basketball in 1894 and is currently a leading producer. Since 1983, it has been the official ball supplier to the NBA. The company also provides the official ball of the Arena Football League, an indoor American football league. The company was also 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.
In 2006, Spalding and the NBA announced that they would create a new NBA Official Game Ball, with interlocking segments and made with a synthetic material instead of leather. However, many NBA players complained that the new composite ball became extremely slick after use, wouldn't bounce as high and bounced awkwardly off the rim and backboard and cut their fingers. As a result, the NBA reverted to the old leather balls effective January 1, 2007.
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: 
- National Basketball League (NBL)
- Women's National Basketball League (WNBL)
- National Basketball Association (NBA)
- Women's National Basketball Association (WNBA)
- American Basketball Association (ABA)
- Paul Pierce
- Harlem Globetrotters
- "Business: Spalding". Time (time.com). February 18, 1929. Retrieved May 23, 2011.
- Springfield Republican, October 10, 1893, p. 6
- Springfield Republican, September 3, 2008, written by Stephen Jendrysik
- Bruce N. Canfield (March 2008). American Rifleman. pp. 35–36.
- "Russell Is Buying Most Of Spalding Sporting Goods Unit". New York Times (NYTimes.com). April 18, 2003. Retrieved May 23, 2011.
- "Callaway Golf Beats Out Adidas To Buy Top-Flite". New York Times (NYTimes.com). September 5, 2003. Retrieved May 23, 2011.
- Horween Leather Company. encyclopedia.com. Retrieved March 26, 2013.
- "History of the Basketball". nba.com. June 28, 2006. Retrieved May 23, 2011.
- Richard Sandomir (June 29, 2006). "N.B.A. Is Getting a Grip on a New Synthetic Game Ball". New York Times (NYTimes.com). Retrieved May 23, 2011.
- Liz Robbins (December 12, 2006). "N.B.A. Says New Ball Is Not Worth the Pain". New York Times (NYTimes.com). Retrieved May 23, 2011.
- "2011 Spalding Premiums Catalog". Spalding.com.
- Official site
- Papers of Edwin L. Parker, former president of A.G. Spalding & Co., Dwight D. Eisenhower Presidential Library