Team Diamond Sports

Play Ball Again


As the governing bodies, players, coaches, fans, umpires, manufacturers, retailers, team dealers and sponsors in baseball and fast-pitch softball navigate their way through 2023, it’s fair to say that the negative impact of the COVID pandemic on both sports has, in many respects, become a distant memory. But, moving forward, it’s also fair to say that business as usual in all team sports will never be taken for granted in the future.

Those team dealers in all corners of the country certainly feel the same way.

In Riviera Beach, FL, baseball and fast-pitch softball items are sold every day at Medallion Sporting Goods. “For us, it’s baseball, baseball, softball and softball throughout the year,” says manager Kevin Licata. “Both are big sales categories for us.”

Medallion sells baseball and softball to local schools, recreation leagues, travel programs and adult baseball leagues.

“Many of our youth baseball leagues are buying everything from us from head to toe,” adds Licata.  “And, some recreational leagues just provide a T-shirt and a hat.”

Medallion sells to both teams and individual players. The teams are buying uniforms, baseballs, softballs, catcher’s gear and less expensive bats, while individual players are purchasing fielding gloves, cleats, bats and bat bags.

“We don’t sell high-end gloves, cleats or bats, but if a customer needs something that is more expensive, we will order it,” notes Licata, pointing out that they also sell scorebooks, pine tar, play boards and batting helmets, which are often customized with various school or team colors and decals.

For Medallion, while fast-pitch softball is a solid category, it’s only one-third the size of the local baseball business.

And up in West Lebanon, NH, at Stateline Sports, baseball might be classified as the “comeback category of the year,” based on comments from the dealer’s baseball buyer Bud Hill.

“It’s been a pretty good sales year for us with fielding gloves and bats and batting gloves have been hot sellers and we’ve also sold a fair number of cleats,” says Hill, who oversees the retail side of the business for Stateline Sports. “Interest in baseball is back, participation in the area is strong and the fear of COVID is gone.”

Stateline Sports also has a team division that sells uniforms, practice balls, bats, scorebooks and clipboards for coaches — sales of all those items have been strong this year, according to Hill.

Diamond Sports Across America

In Columbus, MS, sales of both baseball and fast-pitch softball apparel and equipment have been strong for Sports Specialty, Inc. According to owner Jerry Lavender, 2023 has been a great year for sales of anything and everything in both sports.

“If a baseball or softball team uses anything, we have an opportunity to sell it.  And, we do,” says Lavender. “It’s been a very good year for us with baseball and softball, though there are still a few supply chain issues with suppliers.”

While most of Lavender’s diamond sports business is with high schools, he and his staff also sell to recreational teams, travel teams, and any local adult baseball teams. And while many team dealers shy away from categories such as gloves, bats and cleats, Lavender stocks and sells all three categories.

In Battle Creek, MI, sales of baseball and fast-pitch softball for Jack Pearl’s Sports Center have been solid this year, but not spectacular.

“Sales this year seemed to be a little off, especially in the area of equipment,” reports owner Keith Manning. “We normally sell more buckets of baseballs and softballs than we sold this year.”

On the plus side, Manning agrees that travel teams continue to spend more money per capita than high school teams.

“When it comes to uniforms, high school teams will only buy one set of uniforms for the team, whereas some travel teams will buy as many as three uniforms for each player,” he says. “All (baseball and fast-pitch softball) teams are also buying belts, hats, socks and practice pants.”

Like many other dealers, Manning does not stock cleats and only a handful of bats and gloves. “We’ll order a specific bat or a glove for a player and we only stock a few less expensive youth bats,” adds Manning.

Meanwhile, in Terre Haute, IN, interest in baseball and fast-pitch softball is as strong as it’s ever been. As a result, the business of selling the diamond sports has been brisk for Coaches Corner.

“Compared to last year’s sales in baseball and fast-pitch softball, our sales numbers are up,” reports manager Doc Claussen, who attributes the dealer’s success in the sports to its focus on customer service.

“We give our customers lots of personalization,” he says. “When it comes to teams buying uniforms, we’ll bring players into our store to take measurements so everything fits.”

And the future looks good for both sports in the Terre Haute area. “Recreational baseball is huge in the greater Wabash Valley area,” adds Claussen, pointing out that this year they did business with three local leagues that have more than 1500 players, as well as with two recreational fast-pitch softball leagues for girls.

Again, two items that Coaches Corner doesn’t stock and sell are cleats and fielding gloves — and for good reason. “There’s no way that we can compete with the selection and prices for cleats and fielding gloves that ball players find online,” says Claussen.

Hot Sports in Nevada

Out west in Las Vegas, NV, Jerry Ocuda, owner of Turf Sporting Goods, is busy selling uniforms and equipment to high school baseball and fast-pitch softball teams, American Legion baseball teams, girls fast-pitch softball all-star teams, boys all-star baseball teams and local recreation leagues.

“My baseball and softball business has been good this year,” says Ocuda. “But, we have had a few supply chain issues with batting helmets, but I called around to a few places to get what I needed.”

While business has been brisk for Ocuda, his profits are not what they used to be. “Our revenue is strong, the cost of goods has gone up, too,” he reports.

Gloves and bats are two items which Ocuda stocks and sells, but he’s wary of being the victim of ‘window shopping.’

“Some people will walk in, check out a bat on display and then go home to order it online where they are hoping to buy the bat at a better price,” notes Ocuda.