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From BR Bullpen
Spalding is a large manufacturer of sporting equipment which traces its beginnings to Hall of Famer and baseball pioneer Al Spalding, who founded the company with his brother in Chicago, IL in 1876. It was originally called the Spalding Brothers Company. The company has been owned by the Russell Corporation since 2003. Founder Al Spalding was a tireless promoter who organized world tours of players to spread the popularity of the game beyond the United States. He used his influence in baseball circles to ensure his products were officially endorsed by the National League.
Now largely diversified into a number of sports and best-known for producing basketballs, Spalding was once the official manufacturer of the major league's baseballs and was closely associated with Major League Baseball. This is not the case anymore (official baseballs have been manufactured by Rawlings since 1977, for example), but the company still makes gloves. In the 1950s, its pink rubber ball known as the Spaldeen was the quasi-official ball used in stickball games in urban areas.
In 1934, Spalding absorbed its chief rival, the A.J. Reach Company. The two were publishing competing baseball guides at the time - the Reach Guide and the Spalding Guide - which were merged into one.