As the sporting world continues its freeze amidst the coronavirus pandemic, teams, venues, and companies alike are doing what they can to help support those affected or working on the front lines.
One of the largest gestures to help the cause has been made by Fanatics — the top provider of Major League Baseball merchandise headlined by hats and jerseys.
The company’s plant in Easton, PA has been taking jersey material and repurposing it to make medical masks and gowns, items that have been in short supply for medical professionals working tirelessly to help the tens of thousands of Americans who have been affected by COVID-19.
“Woke up in the middle of the night last week with the idea of converting our Fanatics factory in Pennsylvania that makes official MLB jerseys into a facility that makes much-needed masks and gowns and then donating them to help fight this horrendous virus,” Fanatics executive director Michael Rubin explained on Twitter last week. “This past weekend PA Governor Tom Wolf and Attorney General Josh Shapiro each called me saying they desperately needed help getting masks and gowns to the frontline workers across PA.”
With approximately 100 workers (Rubin noted that they were “extra distanced and in a very clean and safe environment”) Fanatics halted production on their MLB jerseys on Thursday and began making those vital medical supplies.
Former MLB All-Star Alex Rodriguez shared a photo of how the repurposed jerseys will look in their new roles:
Couldn’t be prouder of our game right now. #RobManfred & @MichaelGRubin have stepped up to the plate. @MLB & @Fanatics have halted the production of MLB player jerseys & are using that same jersey fabric to produce masks & hospital gowns to help frontline emergency personnel. pic.twitter.com/4tOkTNmqz1
— Alex Rodriguez (@AROD) March 26, 2020
Rubin noted that the plan is to make 1 million masks and gowns and distribute them to not only Pennsylvania but to New York and New Jersey, as well.
New York has become the epicenter of the virus in the United States with 75,795 confirmed cases statewide.
As of Tuesday afternoon, there have been 171,569 confirmed cases of coronavirus in the United States with 3,376 deaths, per CNN.
The severe spread of the virus in recent weeks has left hospitals shorthanded of workers and supplies, but it has provided the hope that there is still some good out in the world.
Thousands of volunteers have stepped forward to help alleviate the strain on doctors and nurses while public spaces like the Jacob Javits Center in New York City have been transformed into a 2,910-bed medical center.
Alongside Michael Rubins’ efforts, former NBA star Stephon Marbury is trying to set up a deal that would deliver 10 million masks to New York from China.