MLB Products and “Made in the USA”


I am not usually someone who makes New Years resolutions…or if I do they are the defaults such as “eat healthier”, “work out more”, “watch less TV while reading more” types.  This year, I really decided to try to make a resolution that was impactful beyond myself – my resolution was to buy more American made products.  The other resolution, of course, was to do a better job of sticking to a budget and not purchase items on a whim (aka the Detroit Tigers pillow pet we bought for my son because we were at a Meijers in Michigan and they don’t sell them where we live).  So far, 12 days into the 2012, this resolution really has me thinking about the future purchases I plan to make.  It also brought up a question – with baseball as our National Past-time, how many of their officially licensed products are actually “Made in the USA”?  I decided to take a quick look through the Detroit Tigers Team Store to see just how American the products of “America’s Game” really are.

To start off with, I looked through the jersey section.  All of the authentic game jerseys are made in the USA; however, the batting practice ones come from China.  When you get into the replica jersey arena, it is a mixed bag…which I don’t really understand.  Why would the replica road jersey be made in the USA, but the replica road jerseys sporting the names and numbers of Miguel Cabrera, Justin Verlander, and Magglio Ordonez be manufactured in Honduras?  The same is true when looking at the women’s jerseys (which look very good – female Tigers fans should buy this jersey to wear on Valentines Day) and the jerseys for kids.  With the Cooperstown Collection by Mitchell & Ness all of the jerseys except the pullovers from the 80’s are made here.  Sadly, when we venture into the cap/hat collections, it appears that all of the offerings are made overseas, even the “Official On-Field Cap of Major League Baseball”.  I didn’t take the time to look through all of the hat offerings as their are approximately 7,982 offerings on the Tigers’ online shop though, so maybe I missed a few.  It was also overwhelming to take a look at all of the clothing and accessory options, but from the quick scan I took, it appears that the only products that are American made are the leather satchels made by Pangea (they are nice).

Changing gears, it looks like the vast majority of the artwork that is sold online is from the United States with a few items from just across our Northern (or Eastern) Border.  The personalized Louisville Slugger is, of course, made in the United States (Louisville, KY to point out the obvious).  Surprisingly, the pink bats in honor of Mother’s Day, also bearing the Slugger brand, are made in China.  The rest of the items under “Collectibles” comprise a grab bag of things made in the United States, Central American and Asia.  However, the ratio of products made in the United States is significantly better than when looking at apparel.  Looking through the autographed baseball section was interesting as almost all of them were from US but a few were from China or Costa Rica.  A baseball is a baseball, I am not sure why there is a difference there.  The Home & Office section was a bit too laborious to wade through, but if the main page samples are a representative cross-section, most of the products are not made here and instead come from Asia.

Heading into this exercise, I had some preconceived notions as to what would be American made and which products would be imported.  Some of my thoughts were confirmed but I was surprised by some revelations.  I was saddened to see that if someone wants a hat, they will be buying an imported product.  However, if you want any sort of collectible or memorabilia then you have a great chance of that product being made here.

I know it is not a simple thing when dealing with massive corporations, but I do hope that MLB can have more authentic apparel made in the US.  Michangaers (or Michiganians if you prefer) and Tigers fans have a unique relationship with the terms “American Made” or “Made in the USA”, so maybe the Detroit Tigers can be the entity exerting influence on MLB to have more of their officially licensed products made in our country, creating jobs and improving the economy so more of our citizens can afford to enjoy the product each of the 30 teams put on the field 162+ times a year.