Major League Baseball is moving away from the longtime practice of donating its wrong-winner merchandise to other countries.
MLB spokesman Matt Bourne confirmed that all licensed items that call the Cleveland Indians the 2016 World Series champions must be handed over by retailers in order to destroy the products after the Chicago Cubs‘ victory in the seven-game series.
The Huffington Post first reported the story.
Since 2005, Major League Baseball has officially worked with World Vision, a charity that donates gear to needy countries. But Bourne said the league changed gears to “protect the team from inaccurate merchandise being available in the general marketplace.”
Jim Fischerkeller, director of corporate engagement for World Vision, told ESPN that the organization was not notified by baseball of the decision but is fine with the call “as long as it had nothing to do with leakage of product by our organization in the past.”
Fischerkeller said he did not know of any incidents in which MLB provided gear to World Vision and those items found their way into hands in North America.
A relatively large number of Indians championship products are expected to be destroyed for a variety of reasons.
So-called “hot market” gear is produced so retailers can immediately have items available when a team wins a championship. Fischerkeller said he believes more merchandise was made because the Indians had a 3-1 lead, prompting Cleveland retailers to put in more orders.
Indians championship gear was shipped to retailers in Cleveland with the instruction that the boxes should only be opened if the Indians won. When the Indians lost 8-7 in Game 7, the retailers had to ship the boxes back to the licensee or to MLB.
The nation’s largest online licensed sports retailer, Fanatics, has nothing to send because it only orders and makes the gear of the eventual champion.
If the Cubs had lost, the number of items that would have been destroyed would have been immense because of Chicago’s large market and the significance of the team’s 108-year-old title drought. One of the largest sports donations to World Vision came when the Chicago Bears lost Super Bowl XLI in 2007.