8700 West Bryn Mawr Ave.
Chicago, IL 60631
History and Background of Wilson Sports:
Chicago's Ashland Manufacturing Company is founded to develop innovative ways of using the slaughterhouse by-products of the meat packing firm Schwarzchild and Sulzberger.
Ashland's original product line include surgical sutures, inexpensive tennis racquets, tennis racquet string and two models of baseball shoes. The company is shaped by its first general manager, E.C. Seaton, who was one of the early experts of the sporting goods industry. After Thomas E. Wilson is named president, the young company breaks from its parent to focus on sports oriented products. The goal is to grow through innovation and quality, and to promote athletics and sports.
The sporting goods industry is shocked by the 2-year unconditional quality guarantee for all of the company's products advertised in The Saturday Evening Post. Joe Tinker of the famous Tinker-Evers-Chance infield joins Wilson as a baseball business manager.
Wilson becomes the official supplier of the Chicago Cubs.
The Thomas E. Wilson company continues to grow through the acquisition of both the Chicago Sporting Goods Co. and the National Baseball Manufacturing Co.
The Ray Schalk 507 catcher's mitt sets the industry standard for padding and comfort. The Pacific Coast League and Eastern League adopt Wilson as their official baseball.
Wilson-Western officially changes its name to Wilson Sporting Goods Co.
Ted Williams becomes an Advisory Staff member on his way to 13 All-Star selections and a lifetime .344 batting average.
Legendary Yankee Vernon "Lefty" Gomez begins his long career with Wilson which sees him participating in thousands of speaking engagements and charitable assignments. When completing his Wilson job application after leaving baseball, the Hall of Fame pitcher responds to "Reason for leaving last job?" with "Couldn't get anyone out!"
Wilson becomes the first company in the sporting goods industry to initiate the use of the computer for inventory control.
L.B. Icely, Wilson President since 1918, dies and is succeeded by Fred Bowman.
Wilson also introduces the first double break catcher's mitt, autographed by Roy Campenella of the Brooklyn Dodgers.
A new glove for baseball is developed. Wilson craftsmen take their leather making tools to spring training camps and work with ball players to modify their fielding gloves. The changes: a deeper pocket located at the base of the web; a wider web; the Snap ActionTM feature allows the glove to open and close more quickly; and a stiffer thumb to give the glove a permanent form. These innovations raise the standards of defensive play forever. Plays are made faster and more consistently with the new glove, and the spectacular one-handed catch becomes a part of the game. The glove never features an autograph, but it becomes famous simply by its stock number A2000. To this day the A2000 remains the best selling glove in the history of the industry. A new home for Wilson is built in River Grove, Illinois, 17 miles northwest of downtown Chicago.
More international expansion occurs as offices in Wimbledon England, Weisbaden Germany, Tokyo Japan, and Hong Kong China are opened, as well as a baseball manufacturing plant in Aguadilla, Puerto Rico.
The Wilson goal of promoting participation in sports is evident in the company's series of inspirational advertisements addressing the nation's youth. The series wins critical acclaim and thousands of customer requests for reprints are filled. Shipping and receiving is centralized in Nashville.
PepsiCo, Inc. purchases Wilson Sporting Goods, citing the leadership of Wilson in the industry, quality image and growth potential as reasons for the acquisition.
Wesray Capital Corporation buys Wilson Sporting Goods from PepsiCo.
Wilson is selected as the Official Baseball of the NCAATM Championships.
The Amer Group Ltd. of Helsinki, Finland purchases Wilson.
Wilson introduces the Hammer 2.7si tennis racquet. Weighing only 10 oz., the head heavy Hammer design offers one of the highest sweet spots in tennis, and becomes the best selling racquet in pro and specialty shops over the next three years.
Wilson is selected as the Official Ball Glove of Major League Baseball.
The world's finest ball gloves become even better. The ConformTM baseball glove is introduced, which enables players to customize the glove to the hand, resulting in incredible feel. Designed with a revolutionary optic yellow cover, Wilson softballs are selected as the Official Softball of the NCAATM Softball Championships.
Three-time National league MVP Barry Bonds makes spectacular catches with the Conform fielders glove. Wilson is named Manufacturer of the Year by Sporting Goods Dealer Magazine, and NFLTM Licensee of the Year.
Wilson Advisory Staff Member and Atlanta Braves pitching sensation Greg Maddux wins an unprecedented fourth Cy Young Award. His discipline, meticulous study and dedication to the sport of baseball has made him the games best right-handed pitcher in 75 years.
The A9010 Optic Yellow NCAA softball becomes The Official Softball of the NCAAÂ® Softball Championships. The optic yellow leather is frequency matched for maximum visibility. It's brighter than traditional white softballs, it contrasts with all playing backgrounds and is more visible, making it safer .
Wilson Sporting Goods is proud to be the exclusive sporting goods equipment sponsor of The Breast Cancer Research Foundation.
Designed to provide a huge pocket for improved ball handling for players of baseball and softball, Wilson introduces the new Big Sweet Spot design in a wide line. The Big Sweet Spot offers a 15% larger prime catching area and has been incorporated into a variety of pitcher, infield and outfield models of baseball and Softball Bats. The A1001SST" (Super Seam Technology) baseball is introduced. The secret is a patented design and manufacturing process that allows Wilson to make SST seams 20% higher than traditional raised seam balls. SST was developed by an expert panel of active players and coaches to make the best feeling, best playing baseball ever. SST was developed by an expert panel of active players and coaches to make the best feeling, best playing baseball ever. The result is a baseball that feels great and is easier to control. Three out of four players preferred Wilson SST balls over their current ball. SST has created a buzz in the industry. Pitchers, fielders, batters and coaches like the new Wilson SST balls for the superior feel, control and durability.
Wilson also introduces new patented performance innovations designed to improve glove functionality.The Wilson Conform", a a 2000 Conform glove new standard in long-lasting comfort and performance. The CoolMaxÂ® Comfort System improves ventilation, wicks moisture away from the hand, and maxmizes flexibility with no binding. Wilson Team Sports announces the purchase of DeMariniÂ® Sports, Inc., a technology leader in baseball and softball bats. DeMarini, based in Hillsboro, Oregon develops, manufactures and markets baseball and softball bats. With the development of Double Wall and FLI" technology, DeMarini is clearly recognized as the leader in bat technology. Wilson is named the Official Sponsor of Little League Baseball. Wilson will be the exclusive Equipment Starter Kit for Little League Baseball; The Official Baseball of Little League Baseball World Series and The Official Softball of the Little League World Series. Wilson is also named the exclusive Official World Series Baseball for Pony Baseball and the exclusive softball for PONY Oregon develops, manufactures and markets baseball and softball bats. With the development of Double Wall and FLI" technology, DeMarini is clearly recognized as the leader in bat technology.