Franklin Sports Founder and Industry Pioneer Irving H. Franklin Dies at Age 93; Innovator of Batting Glove

Nov 12, 2011, 11:09 ET from Franklin Sports

STOUGHTON, Mass., Nov. 12, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Irving H. Franklin, who co-founded Franklin Sports in 1946 with his brother Sydney Franklin, and was the innovator of the baseball batting glove, passed away on November 10 at the age of 93. Mr. Franklin died peacefully in his sleep in Falmouth, Massachusetts, according to his son, Larry J. Franklin.

Mr. Franklin was a true visionary, both in producing the prototype of the batting glove that is still used today, as well as in establishing product lines for superstar athletes including Phillies star third baseman Mike Schmidt and New York Jets quarterback Joe Namath.

Born on August 2, 1918 in Brockton, Massachusetts, from modest beginnings, Irving Franklin launched the company to manufacture a line of youth sporting goods, which grew into a major brand in the global market of sporting goods.

Mr. Franklin and Franklin Sports became best known for innovating and designing the first batting glove made specifically for major league players. Soon after, Franklin became "Official Batting Glove of Major League Baseball."  Franklin today is the industry leader as the premier batting glove company, and custom fits batting gloves for over 150 MLB players.

In the late 60's, Irving signed New York Jets quarterback Joe Namath, and became the first in the industry to market a complete line of products around an athlete. A model Franklin has used successfully for many superstar athletes including, Terry Bradshaw, Dan Marino, Herschel Walker, Sugar Ray Leonard, David Robinson, Mike Schmidt, Don Mattingly, Bo Jackson, Cal Ripken, Jr., and Barry Bonds.

The breakthrough for Franklin and the batting gloves came when Phillies Hall of Fame third baseman Mike Schmidt and Irving Franklin teamed up to create the basic design that is still the preferred glove of most major league hitters. Irving Franklin went to Clearwater, Florida, to meet with Schmidt during spring training in 1983. Together, they worked tirelessly to make sure that the materials and design were perfected, so collaboratively the two were the first authors. At that time, most players wore no gloves. A few wore a single golf style glove, but no company offered a product specifically designed for the needs of professional players.

The first Franklin product was a stuffed football because of rubber restrictions due to the war. After the war, when his brother Sydney joined with him, the company began to manufacture footballs, shoulder pads, other sports equipment. Irving Franklin was in charge of sales and marketing, while Sydney ran the factory.

Larry Franklin took over the reigns as President in 1986. His son Adam works in the company as well.

SOURCE Franklin Sports