Rawlings Sporting Goods reached an agreement to acquire Easton Diamond Sports, merging the country’s top softball and baseball sporting goods companies.
Rawlings said the purchase will strengthen the Rawlings and Easton brands, enhance product innovation and enable investments to grow the game. Rawlings was founded in 1887. It is MLB’s official supplier of baseballs, gloves, faceguards, and helmets. Rawlings also supplies baseballs for Minor League Baseball and is the official baseball and softball of the NCAA and the NAIA.
“Over the years, Rawlings and Easton have shared a dedication to being best in class, which is the one constant that ultimately inspired our coming together and what will create the best baseball and softball company in the world,” said Mike Zlaket, President and CEO of Rawlings, on the companies website. “Whether it’s our products, innovation and technology, relationships with our customers, players and consumers, or our service to the game, Rawlings has never compromised. That will be especially true moving forward with the many opportunities and advantages our new integrated operation will provide everyone who loves baseball and softball.”
“The Easton and Rawlings brands complement each other exceptionally well and will deliver an improved value proposition to all stakeholders, including teams, players, coaches, dealers and associations throughout the industry,” said Dan Jelinek, President of Easton. “We believe the combination of these two leading brands will accelerate innovation, provide for greater investments in growing baseball and softball, and positively impact all constituents in and around the sports of baseball and softball.”
“Major League Baseball is committed to growing baseball and softball worldwide,” said Chris Marinak, Chief Operations and Strategy Officer at MLB. “Rawlings and Easton are both All-Star companies. Capitalizing on the strength of these two companies will help drive future growth opportunities for both baseball and softball at all levels of play.”
The transaction will create a baseball and softball equipment provider with a more diverse multi-brand portfolio that is supported by a deeper pool of expertise and talent. The combined organization will be positioned to further invest in R&D, drive product innovation, offer a one-stop shopping experience for customers, enable increased support for retail partners, and expand customization options for players at all levels. The brands will invest to grow the games of baseball and softball, an initiative that will strengthen the industry overall, and create opportunities for enhanced partnerships.
The transaction is subject to the satisfaction of customary closing conditions, including the receipt of U.S. regulatory clearance. Until close, Rawlings and Easton will remain separate companies and continue to operate independently. Existing shareholders of Peak Achievement Athletics Inc., the parent of Easton, will continue to participate as minority owners in the combined organization.
In 2018, Newell Brands Inc. sold Rawlings to a fund managed by Seidler Equity Partners (SEP), a private investment firm based in Marina del Rey, CA, for $395 million. Major League Baseball co-invested in the purchase. Rawlings, founded in 1887 and based in St. Louis, MO, comprises the Rawlings, Miken and Worth brands.
Peak Achievement Athletics was acquired by two private equity groups, Sagard Holdings Inc. and Fairfax Financial Holdings, in bankruptcy proceedings in February 2017. The company is the parent of Bauer Hockey, Easton Baseball/Softball, Cascade Lacrosse and Maverik Lacrosse. Peak Achievement Athletics. The Easton hockey and cycling businesses are owned by other entities.
Photo courtesy Easton