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Balls, Balls, Balls - By Terry Hennessy

April 1, 2022

From the Dugout
By Terry Hennessy

Who would have thought that softballs would be such an excellent example of the dangers of farming U.S. manufacturing out to other countries?

For almost two decades, softballs have been manufactured in China.  All softballs.

For the past two years, there have been delays of several months getting our softballs.  Balls that were scheduled to arrive in February, are now forecast to arrive in June or July.

Why?

There are several reasons:

The factories have closed numerous times because of China’s zero-COVID policy.  Under that policy, if there are any cases of COVID reported, whole cities and provinces are closed down for several weeks. 

Once loaded on container ships, there are delays in both Chinese and U.S. ports because of the backup of ships leaving and arriving at ports.  Those delays can be caused by a lack of port staff, added tariff regulations, or because of a shortage of containers.

The shortage of containers is because there has been a spike in demand for products in the past year as countries have opened up after the pandemic.

Once the balls actually clear customs in Los Angeles, there are shipping delays – again caused by staff shortages.

So, what does this mean for senior softball teams?

It means teams will be using different balls in Senior Softball USA’s 90 National Qualifiers and 250 leagues – as long as we can cobble together enough balls until our shipment arrives.

This is simply an example.  Assorted businesses throughout the country are facing the same supply problems because the products they need are manufactured overseas. 

We long for the days when softballs were made in America… while it likely would be more expensive today to produce them here, at least we will be able to get the balls when we need them.


Terry Hennessy is the chief executive officer of Senior Softball USA and can be reached at terryh@seniorsoftball.com.


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