Wilson Sporting Goods

The Wilson Sporting Goods Company is an American sports equipment manufacturer based in Chicago, Illinois. Since 1989, it has been a subsidiary of the Finnish group Amer Sports.[3] Wilson makes equipment for many sports, among them American football, badminton, baseball, basketball, fastpitch softball, golf, racquetball, soccer, squash, tennis and volleyball.

Wilson Sporting Goods Company
IndustrySports equipment
Founded1913 (1913) (as "Ashland Manufacturing Company")
FounderThomas E. Wilson
United States
ProductsBalls, rackets, uniforms, apparel
$930 million (2010)[1]
Number of employees
1,600 [2]
ParentAmer Sports

The company also owns the brands Atec, DeMarini, EvoShield, Louisville Slugger and Luxilon to provide sports equipment and protective gear for baseball, lacrosse, softball and tennis.


The company traces its roots to the "Schwarzschild & Sulzberger" meatpacking company (later changed to "Sulzberger & Son's") based in New York, that operated meat packing slaughterhouses.[4]

Sulzberger & Son's founded the "Ashland Manufacturing Company" in 1913 to use animal by-products from its slaughterhouses. It started out in 1914 making tennis racket strings, violin strings, and surgical sutures but soon expanded into baseball shoes and tennis racquets.[1]

In 1915, Thomas E. Wilson, former president of meatpacker Morris & Company, was appointed President by the controlling banks and renamed the company "Thomas E. Wilson Company". The company acquired the Hetzinger Knitting Mills to produce athletic uniforms and a caddie bag company which produced golf balls but soon expanded into footballs and basketballs.[1]

In 1918, Wilson left to concentrate on the beef-packing business, changing the Sulzberger company to Wilson & Co. (which would ultimately become Iowa Beef Packers and then be taken over by Tyson Foods). The packing company continued to have control in the company until 1966 when it was sold to Ling-Temco-Vought.[1]

Under new president L. B. Icely it acquired the "Chicago Sporting Goods Company" and struck a deal to supply the Chicago Cubs. It also hired Arch Turner, a leather designer who would design the leather football.[1]

In 1922, it introduced the Ray Schalk catcher's mitt which became the standard. It worked with Knute Rockne to introduce the double-lined leather football and first valve football and the first waist-line football pants with pads.[1] In 1925, it was renamed "Wilson-Western Sporting Goods" following a distribution agreement with "Western Sporting Goods".

After Rockne's death, the company focused on golf, introducing the R-90, a sand wedge golf club inspired by Gene Sarazen's victory in the 1932 British Open.[1]

In 1931, it renamed itself Wilson Sporting Goods Company. During World War II it introduced the Wilson Duke football, featuring the best leather, ends that were hand-sewn, lock-stitch seams, and triple lining, which was adopted as the official ball of the National Football League.[1]

Horween Leather Company has supplied Wilson with pebbled cowhide since 1941 for use in the manufacture of footballs and basketballs. Wilson is Horween Leather Company's largest customer.[5][6]

In 1941, Wilson became official provider of American footballs for the National Football League. That partnership has continued up to present days.[7]

After the war, Wilson focused on tennis and signed Jack Kramer, who developed its line of Jack Kramer signed tennis rackets. Icley died in 1950 but the company continued to expand with many believing that Icely's introduction of a computer to monitor inventory had been a huge help. In 1955, it acquired Ohio-Kentucky Manufacturing for making footballs.

In 1964 it acquired Wonder Products Company, which made toys and custom-molded items. It transformed the custom-mold section to make protective equipment in football and baseball, such as face masks for football helmets and leg guards for baseball catchers.

In 1967, the company was acquired by Ling-Temco-Vought. Only three years after, PepsiCo became new Wilson's owner. In those days, the company manufactured and commercialized the official balls of the National Basketball Association (NBA) and National Football League, and provided most of the uniforms of teams in Major League Baseball (MLB) and the United States Summer Olympics teams.

In 1979, Wilson tennis balls were first used in the US Open,[8] and still are used to this day. In 2006, the Australian Open began using Wilson Tennis Balls.[9]

In 1985, Wilson was acquired by Westray Capital Corporation through subsidiary WSGC Holdings. In 1989, WSGC merged with Bogey Acquisitions Company, which is affiliated with the Finnish group Amer Sports.[1]


Wilson manufactures and commercializes a variety of products for several sports. The following chart contains all the product lines by the company.[10]

Some of the Wilson products, fltr: American football, basketball, tennis racquet, volleyball, baseball bats and baseball glove
Sport Range of products
American footballBalls
BaseballBalls, bats,[note 1] batting gloves, uniforms, protective gear (Batting helmet, shin guards, shoulder pads)
Fastpitch softballBalls, protective gear
GolfClubs, balls, bags, apparel
Paddle tennisPaddles
Platform tennisPaddles
RacquetballRackets, balls, shoes
TennisRackets & strings, grips, balls, shoes, apparel, bags
General accessoriesBags, gloves, shin guards
  1. Manufactured and commercialised through its subsidiary brands, DeMarini and Louisville Slugger.


American football


  • NFL – Official ball
  • UFL – Official ball
  • AAF – Official ball
  • CFL – Official ball [11]

Former teams

Many teams of the NFL have worn uniforms provided by Wilson, such as:


Wilson makes a variety of baseball gloves for several different patterns: Wilson has 3 series of baseball gloves. The A2k, The a2000, And the A1k. The A2k is made from Wilson’s Pro Stock Select leather, which is made from triple sorting their famous pro stock leather. A stock A2k retails for US$350. The a2000 made from Wilson’s pro stock leather is the oldest glove series Wilson offers. The a2000 retails for US$250. The A1k is made from Wilson’s top-shelf leather and retails US$200. Some of Wilson’s most famous patterns include the Dp15, 1787, 1776, 1788, 1799, 2800, M1, 1791 Pudge, and many others.





  • FIBA – Official ball for all FIBA championships in 3x3[13]
  • FPB – Official ball

Club teams







Wilson Staff is the golf division of Wilson Sporting Goods. The company designs and manufactures a full range of golf equipment, accessories and clothing using the Wilson Staff, ProStaff and Ultra brands.

Many of the worlds top professional golfers have used Wilson equipment including Nick Faldo, Arnold Palmer and Ben Crenshaw; the latter two of whom used Wilson 8802 putters. Crenshaw's even received the moniker Little Ben due to his proficiency with it. Current Wilson Staff players include British Open and PGA Championship champion Pádraig Harrington, and U.S. Open champion Gary Woodland.


Wilson is a major manufacturer of tennis rackets. The original kevlar Pro Staff model racket, known for its use by Pete Sampras, was heavy (more than 350g strung) and small-headed (85 sq. in.); Roger Federer also used the same racket model. As of 2015, he uses the Pro Staff RF97 Autograph model that is heavy (340 g/12 oz unstrung) and larger (97 sq. in.). Jim Courier and Stefan Edberg also used the Pro Staff Original, Edberg later switching to the Pro Staff Classic in 1991, which was the same racket (85 sq. in. with slightly rounded frame edges) but with different paint work. In late 2009, Wilson unveiled their latest line of rackets, codenamed 20x, which they would later rename BLX. This line directly replaces their previous K-Factor series with all new technologies.[14] Also, many pros use custom-made rackets that perform differently from the mass-produced versions.

Aside from tennis rackets, the Wilson sporting goods company also makes tennis balls (including the official balls of the US Open and starting in 2020, the French Open major championships), shoes, balls, strings, clothes, and racquet bags.[15]

Male players

Female players

Former players


Active players

Former players



  • AVP – Official ball

A Wilson volleyball "co-starred" alongside Tom Hanks in the film Cast Away. Hanks' character named the ball, to which he became deeply attached to, "Wilson" in the film. After the success of the film, Wilson Sporting Goods actually created and marketed volleyballs with Wilson's "face" printed on.[16]

See also


  1. "History of Wilson Sporting Goods Company". Funding Universe.
  2. "About Wilson Sporting Goods and Sports Equipment". Wilson.
  3. Freudenheim, Milt. Amer Group to Acquire Wilson Sporting Goods, The New York Times, 1989-02-21
  4. Norris, Frank; Henry, O (1905). Everybody's Magazine.
  5. Schmid, John (May 28, 2008). "Getting a grip". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Retrieved March 26, 2013.
  6. Wolinsky, Howard (May 16, 2008). "Horween Leather Faces an Uncertain Future". Bloomberg Business Week. Retrieved March 26, 2013.
  7. Wilson & the NFL since 1941 on Wilson website, 13 Mar 2019
  8. "Wilson Tennis Balls". Wilson.
  9. Australian Open Sponsors, 2007-06-23
  10. Company products Wilson, 13 Mar 2019
  11. "CFL To Roll Out New Ball For 2018 Season" (Press release). Canadian Football League. 19 March 2018.
  12. "Wilson Baseball Player Profiles". Wilson.
  13. "Wilson to provide the Official Game Ball for FIBA" (Press release). Amer Sports. 9 June 2015. Retrieved 17 August 2015.
  14. Latest Wilson Rackets - CuzGeek
  15. "Wilson Tennis Rackets, Equipment and Accessories". Wilson.
  16. Price, Annie. Tom Hanks is emotionally reunited with his beloved Wilson from Castaway Daily Express, London, 6 February 2015.


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