Amity coach Sal Coppola has noticed a difference in the way the Spalding baseballs have performed during the state tournament.
“I haven’t seen the balls tearing as easily as they have during the year,” the coach said.
That’s because the company decided to improve its product, with a higher grade of leather for the cover and tighter seams. Throughout the state tournament, teams have been using a different Spalding baseball than the ones they purchased during the year. The CIAC provides the balls for the state tournament.
Spalding has also agreed to meet with conferences to discuss any other qualms about the baseball. In a statement to the New Haven Register, Spalding said it is committed to providing Connecticut with a high quality ball.
“Spalding is addressing the concerns brought up by coaches and ADs directly with coaches and ADs that have had issues. We really have nothing more to say.”
CIAC associate executive director Paul Hoey said Spalding took the initiative to fix the product and reach out to coaches. He said at the pairings meeting prior to the start of the state tournament, Spalding showed them the new baseball.
“If you took the Rawlings, Diamond and Spalding ball and put them all together and you didn’t have a label on them, I don’t think you could tell the difference,” Hoey said.
Which is all good and well for the 125 teams that participated in the CIAC tournament across four divisions qualify, but Southern Connecticut Conference commissioner Al Carbone wants more done.
“What about all the people that bought thousands of dollars worth of baseballs during the regular season and in our (SCC) tournament,” he said.
A box of a dozen Spalding baseballs can cost as much as 70 dollars. Coppola said having to buy more baseballs because they did not last was frustrating.
“You’re going through baseballs, which are ridiculously expensive, and then one foul ball and the ball is torn,” Coppola said about the old, regular season baseballs.
Spalding will reimburse schools for damaged baseballs, according to Hoey.
“They’ll replace (the ball) without question,” he said.
Keeping its promise to engage with conferences across the state, a Spalding rep was set to attend the final SCC Athletic Directors meeting today, but will miss it due to a scheduling conflict. Carbone said he has no issue with Spalding.
“They’re improving the product,” he said. “All companies should do that.”
And so far, so good, according to Hoey. He said he has not heard any complaints. Although coaches have not voiced their opinions to the CIAC, Carbone said the CIAC has kept quiet in regards to the Spalding ball, too. He said he did not even know new balls were being used. Hoey said when the postseason concludes, the CIAC will ask for feedback from the coaches.
“We’ll see how it goes,” Hoey said, “Hopefully (Spalding) has addressed the situation.”