Spalding (company) sporting goods company

Encyclopedia from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

IndustrySports equipment
Founded1876; 144 years ago (1876)
FounderAlbert Spalding
Area served
North America
ParentFruit of the Loom

Spalding is an American sports equipment manufacturing company founded by Albert Spalding in Chicago, Illinois, in 1876. It is now headquartered in Bowling Green, Kentucky. Spalding currently focuses on basketball, mainly producing balls but also commercializing hoops, rims, nets and ball pump needles. Softballs are commercialized through its subsidiary Dudley Sports.

In the past, Spalding manufactured balls for other sports, such as American football, baseball, soccer, volleyball, and golf.


Albert Spalding, founder of the company, in 1910

The company was founded in 1876 when Albert Spalding was a pitcher and 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.[1]

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.[2]

The Spalding "League Ball" was adopted by the National League and American Association of Professional Base Ball Clubs for the seasons of 1892–1896 and used by the National League since 1880. It was manufactured by A. G. Spalding & Bros., Chicago, New York & Philadelphia and sold for $1.50 in 1896.[3]

Production of bicycles continued at the Chicopee plant through the latter part of the 19th century, but in 1899 A.G. Ben Spalding sold its bicycle division to a massive trust called the American Bicycle Company which controlled 65% of the bicycle business in the US.[4]

During World War II, the company joined five other firms to form the New England Small Arms Corporation for manufacture of M1918 Browning Automatic Rifles.[5]

From the early 1930s through the mid-1940s, Spalding produced the official game pucks for the National Hockey League. 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.[6] 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.[7]

Horween Leather Company supplies leather to Spalding for indoor Arena Football League footballs.[8]


A Spalding NBA official basketball. The company was supplier to the league from 1983 to 2020

Spalding developed its first basketball in 1894[9] based on the design of a baseball, and is currently a leading producer. Spalding was the official ball supplier to the National Basketball Association (NBA) from 1983 to the 2019-20 season, when the league signed a partnership with Wilson.[10] The company also provided the official ball of the Arena Football League, an indoor American football league until its 2019 shutdown. 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 for the 2006-07 NBA season, with interlocking segments and made with a synthetic material instead of leather.[11] 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 (with the old eight-panel pattern) on January 1, 2007.[12]

Spalding Athletic Library

Spalding Athletic Library sold sports and exercise books through the American Sports Publishing Company from 1892 to 1941. Both companies were owned and founded by Spalding. Spalding created the Spalding Athletic Library in 1892.[13] Spalding also founded the American Sports Publishing Company,[14] and it was incorporated in New Jersey in 1892.[15] American Sports Publishing Company used a New York address from 1892 to 1941.

The first book published was “Life and Battles of James J. Corbett”, Volume 1, Number 1 in 1892. The book includes stories of Corbett’s past opponents. The first book was published under: Spalding’s Athletic Library, American Sports Publishing Company, New York.[16] The editor of the first book was Richard K Fox, and Corbett is referred to as the California Wonder.[17]

In the baseball series, Ty Cobb wrote "Strategy in the Outfield." [18] In the self defense series, Jiu Jitsui with poses by A Minami and K Koyama. [19]

Spalding Athletic Library covered a variety of Sports, Exercises, and Organizations. The Brooklyn Daily Eagle newspaper stated regarding this collection, “devoted to all athletics pastimes, indoor and outdoor, and is the recognized American cyclopedia of sport”.[20] An article by the Society for American Baseball Research (SABR) states, "It lasted for many years and enjoyed the greatest success of any publication of its kind." [21]

Advertisement inside Spalding available books include Archery, Athletics (Track and Field; All Around; Cross country running and Marathon), Badminton, Baseball, Basketball, Bicycling, Bowling, Boxing, Canoeing, Cricket, Croquet, Curling, Fencing, (American) Football, Golf, Gymnast, Handball, Hockey, Jujutsu, Lacrosse, Lawn Sports, Polo, Pushball, Quoits, Racquetball, Rowing (sport), Rugby, Skating, Soccer (Football), Squash (sport), Swimming, Tennis, Tumbling (gymnastics), Volleyball, and Wrestling. Bodybuilding books included Dumb Bell, Indian club, Medicine Ball, and Pulley Weights. Sporting books for organizations include Amateur Athletic Union (AAU), IC4A, National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), Olympics, Public Schools, and YMCA. [22] and [23]

Spalding produced a mail order catalogues that provided a description, price and picture of their sports equipment, sports books, and exercise books. A couple of examples are How to Play Golf for 25 cents, How to Play Basketball at 10 cents, and How to Train for Bicycling at 10 cents.[24]

Wrap cover of Spalding's Athletic Library Baseball: Base Ball, published in 1911. The company commercialised a large variety of sports publications between the end of XIX century to the 1910s


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:[25][26]

American football


Leagues & Associations
National teams
Club teams
Other teams



See also


  1. ^ "Business: Spalding". Time. February 18, 1929. Retrieved May 23, 2011.
  2. ^ Springfield Republican, October 10, 1893, p. 6
  3. ^ Spalding's 1896 Official Bicycle Guide, Volume 4, No. 45, page 85, published December, 1895 by American Sports Publishing Co., 241 Broadway, New York. (See advertisement below)
  4. ^ Springfield Republican, September 3, 2008, written by Stephen Jendrysik
  5. ^ Bruce N. Canfield (March 2008). American Rifleman. pp. 35–36. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  6. ^ "Russell Is Buying Most Of Spalding Sporting Goods Unit". New York Times. April 18, 2003. Retrieved May 23, 2011.
  7. ^ "Callaway Golf Beats Out Adidas To Buy Top-Flite". New York Times. September 5, 2003. Retrieved May 23, 2011.
  8. ^ Horween Leather Company. Retrieved March 26, 2013.
  9. ^ "History of the Basketball". June 28, 2006. Retrieved May 23, 2011.
  10. ^ NBA drops Spalding as maker of official basketball after more than 30 years by Jabari Young on CNBC, 13 May 2020
  11. ^ Sandomir, Richard (June 29, 2006). "N.B.A. Is Getting a Grip on a New Synthetic Game Ball". New York Times. Retrieved May 23, 2011.
  12. ^ Robbins, Liz (December 12, 2006). "N.B.A. Says New Ball Is Not Worth the Pain". New York Times. Retrieved May 23, 2011.
  13. ^ Successful Men; The History Box. [1] Retrieved Oct. 23, 2020
  14. ^ Successful Men. [2] Retrieved Oct. 23, 2020
  15. ^ Corporations on New Jersey. [3] Retrieved Oct. 23, 2020
  16. ^ Buffalo Courier, Buffalo, NY, October 30, 1892. [4] Retrieved Oct. 23, 2020
  17. ^ Open Library. [5] Retrieved Nov 22, 2020
  18. ^ The Spalding Baseball Collection, The New York Public Library 1922. [6] Retrieved Dec 11, 2020
  19. ^ Babel Hathitrust, Jiu Jitsui, Red Cover Series, 1916. [7] Retrieved Dec 11, 2020
  20. ^ The Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Brooklyn, New York, August 20, 1905. [8] Retrieved Oct. 25, 2020
  21. ^ SABR, Ralph E LinWeber. [9] Retrieved Dec 11, 2020
  22. ^ Chicago Public Library 1911-1915. [10] Retrieved Nov 22, 2020
  23. ^ Bulletin of the New York Public Library. [11] Retrieved Oct. 23, 2020
  24. ^ Cincinnati & Hamilton County Public Library; Spalding Catalogue. [12] Retrieved Oct. 24, 2020
  25. ^ Spalding partnerships, 1 April 2017
  26. ^ Spalding 2017 online catalog
  27. ^ "Ball Adoptions for 2019-2020 and Beyond". Kentucky High School Athletic Association. Retrieved August 20, 2020.
  28. ^ FIBA EuroBasket 2017,, Retrieved 16 May 2017.
  29. ^ #AfroBasket - Day 8: Cape Verde v Republic of Congo (highlights), Youtube video, Retrieved 6 August 2016.
  30. ^ Georgia | EuroBasket 2015 – PHOTO GALLERY Archived October 23, 2015, at the Wayback Machine,, Retrieved 22 October 2015.
  31. ^ Hungary | FIBA EuroBasket 2017,, Retrieved 22 March 2017.
  32. ^ Uruguay - FIBA Americup 2017,, Retrieved 31 August 2017.
  33. ^ Team 15/16 Telekom Baskets Bonn Archived October 4, 2015, at the Wayback Machine,, Retrieved 30 September 2015.

External links

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