news 2 days ago

76ers co-owner Michael Rubin converting company's MLB jerseys to masks, gowns to fight coronavirus

Sporting News — customerservice@sportingnews.com (Sporting News)

Michael Rubin said he woke up in the middle of the night last week with an idea. The owner of Fanatics, a top retailer of officially licensed sports apparel, wanted his Pennsylvania factory to halt production of MLB jerseys and begin producing facemasks and gowns to donate to those fighting COVID-19.

He wrote in a Twitter thread Thursday that Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf and state Attorney General Josh Shapiro had each called him to say they "desperately needed help getting masks and gowns to the frontline workers across Pennsylvania." Now, the company is beginning production of those masks and gowns with the material the company uses to make the jerseys.

Rubin said that his company's Easton, Pa., factory has about 100 people working on production. He added that Fanatics "plan(s) to make one million masks and gowns [and] then immediately donate and distribute them to hospitals and emergency management personnel across Pennsylvania with the goal of extending this to New Jersey and New York, the epicenter of the COVID-19 outbreak in the United States."

MORE: Hockey equipment manufacturer making face shields for medical workers

Rubin is also a co-owner of the NBA's 76ers and the NHL's Devils, who were moving ahead with plans this week to reduce the pay of certain employees for both teams by up to 20 percent. According to Stadium, Rubin was "upset" and "outraged" over his partners' decision. Co-owner Josh Harris subsequently rescinded the move and issued an apology through the 76ers.

"To me, if you don’t get something right, the biggest thing you need to do is recognize it and fix it," Rubin told NBC Sports Philadelphia. "Whether I'm involved or indirectly involved, I screw things up all the time. The most important thing is if you don’t get it right, you’ve got to fix it immediately and I'm proud of the way the organization said, ‘You know what? We didn’t have it right and we’re going to get it right.'"