Rawlings is a major manufacturer of competitive team sports equipment and apparel for baseball, basketball, and football, as well as licensed MLB, NFL, and NCAA retail products. Rawlings is a major supplier to professional, collegiate, interscholastic, and amateur organizations worldwide, including the Official Baseball Supplier to Major League Baseball.
The first real innovation in glove making occurred in 1912 when Rawlings Sporting Goods Company introduced the "Sure Catch" glove, which was "endorsed by leading players all over the country." The Sure Catch was a one-piece glove with sewn-in finger channels and looked better suited for a duck's foot than a man's hand. Catchers' mitts used at the time were large and bulky with a single leather thong passing for a web.
In 1920, Bill Doak, a journeyman pitcher for the St. Louis Cardinals, approached Rawlings with an idea for improving the baseball glove from a mere protective device to a genuine aid in fielding. The "Bill Doak" model was so revolutionary that it stayed in Rawlings' line until 1953. Its key feature was a multi-thong web laced into the first finger and thumb, which created for the first time in baseball's young life, a natural pocket.
In 1925, Rawlings unveiled a three-fingered fielder's glove, and ten years later improved the Bill Doak model with a two-piece leather web. At the same time, the "T" web became a rage for first basemen's mitts. The pocket underwent a pronounced change in 1941 when the Trapper Mitt, also known as the Claw, appeared. The "Deep Well" pocket was so unique that Rawlings quickly patented it. The design was improved in 1950 by adding a leather piece across the top. Another significant creation occurred in 1948 with the three-fingered Playmaker. A five-fingered fielder's model, with all fingers laced together, provided greater pocket control.
The six-fingered Trap-Eze evolved in the 1960's. In more recent years, Rawlings produced the Fastback design, which gives a glove a snugger fit, greater extension, and overall control. The Holdster is a slot through which a finger can be extended for additional protection from impacts on the pocket. Then, there is the Edge-U-Cated Heel with its extended U-shaped lacing and the Pro H Web and much-copied Basket Web.
Some of Rawlings's more recent glove innovations also include the unique Spin-Stopper design which reduces ball spin when the ball hits the glove, and the Cantilever glove design feature that provides a cushioned area between the hand and the glove's palm area. In all, Rawlings has produced and patented more functionally innovative glove features and designs than that of any other glove manufacturer. The result is that the modern baseball glove is much larger, more comfortable, better padded, and made to last far longer than its ancestors. It is not uncommon to see today's Major League players wearing the same Rawlings glove they wore during their college playing days. In fact, Rawlings is the #1 glove in the major leagues. Rawlings maintains about 65 models of baseball and softball mitts and gloves in its line. The prototypes of virtually all of them have been field-tested by professionals before entering a sporting goods dealer's inventory.