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Without Manufacturing…the World Series Would be Lame

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From the NIST MEP Manufacturing Innovation Blog

On Manufacturing Day, with the World Series approaching, we started talking about what baseball would be like without manufacturing. And while the series is almost over (and a 68-year or 108-year curse about to be broken!), we’re still talking about it today. So we thought it would be interesting to consider baseball without manufacturing. You mean you haven’t? For starters, it would be stark: people would be standing in a field with not much to do or even wear. There’s not much to the American pastime without manufacturing…another thing that makes America great.

In 1939, Jack Corbett Hollywood bases were used in Major League Baseball playing fields for the first time. They’ve been a fixture on the base paths ever since.  Like everything else that is the baseball experience, the bases have to be made somewhere.  In this case, it’s Shutt Sports in Litchfield, IL.  Ok, so now the empty field has bases…

Thanks to companies like Louisville Slugger and the Original Maple Bat Corporation (Canada), the combatants have bats.  There may be a debate about the features and benefits of ash bats versus maple bats, but there’s no denying that somebody, somewhere needs to shape raw wood into an object that can project a ball across the field.  A batsman without a bat is just a person.   As for the balls, they get made in Costa Rica. Baseball is an international game after all.

Without manufacturing we would have no scorebooks, programs, hot dog steamers (or hot dogs for that matter), beer, or turnstiles to get hung up on or walk through (it’s coordination dependent).  And you can forget about having a place to sit.  In the amount of time it took to open a peanut, the internet revealed that companies like Hussey Seating, Irwin Seating and American Seating all have products in Major League ballparks from Kansas City to Boston and from Minneapolis to Detroit.

As we started down a path counting the ways that manufacturing matters to baseball, we were reminded of the immortal words from A. Bartlett Giamatti, former Major League Baseball Commissioner. He wrote, “This is the last pure place where Americans dream. This is the last great arena, the last green arena, where everybody can learn lessons of life.”   We’d like to take some liberties and add to his quote: it is also a place we Americans can learn lessons about manufacturing.

Think about baseball if we did not make things. There’d be no Cracker Jack (invented in 1896 in Chicago).  Oh and, without manufacturing, the Cracker Jack packaging would amount to your hands.

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ITAC Update: Earlier this morning the Chicago Cubs broke their 108-year curse.  Congrats!