Editor’s Note: Our first Kickstarter project was a major league success! Tokens & Icons, a long valued partner of UncommonGoods, brought it all home with their amazing MLB Game Used Baseball Beanies. Baseball fans couldn’t wait to get their mitts on the beanies, and our goal was reached in just one day! Though the campaign has ended, you can still rep your favorite team and get a beanie of your own. Read on and watch our video to learn more.
About the Project
Back in 1969 when the New York Mets won the World Series, UncommonGoods founder Dave Bolotsky, then six years old, got a cherished jacket from the underdog team. He’s loved his home team and the sport itself ever since. There’s nothing else quite like the nostalgic feeling sports memorabilia creates—a feeling that goes way beyond their materials.
A baseball story of a different stripe, this handcrafted beanie from Tokens & Icons and UncommonGoods is knit from three continuous wool yarn strands found inside MLB authenticated, game-used baseballs.
A Major League Story
Tokens & Icons makes many baseball products that require cutting game-used balls right down the middle. One day, Ward Wallau noticed the exposed wool yarn that fills the inside of a ball. He also noticed of one of his wife’s knitting projects on the kitchen table, and the idea for the beanie was born. When he unwound the yarn, he couldn’t believe how much was there, and discovered that it was enough to make one hat.
After considering 30 different samples, Tokens & Icons chose a single craftsman in California to knit the reclaimed yarn into beanies. Starting with the heathered brown wool, he deftly integrates different colored yarns from the balls’ layers to create a contrasting stripe, and then adds an alpaca blend lining for extra warmth and comfort.
The Real Deal
Ensuring the authenticity of these game-used balls is serious business. When the balls go in the dirt and are taken out of the game, they’re authenticated as game used. When they’re delivered to Tokens & Icons and ready to be made into beanies, an authenticator marks the yarn for verification. Once each beanie is finished, the authenticator verifies it once again and fits it with a hologram tag. Using the tag’s code, the customer can go online and track the hat back to the exact game the ball was used in.
Some baseball stories get a little exaggerated over time, but in the case of this hat, a hologram on the label verifies that it’s the real deal. This wearable piece of baseball history will inspire fans to tell its story whenever they wear it. Each beanie includes a gift box embossed with a pattern of baseball stitching and a story card illustrating the ball-to-beanie process.
A Winning Team
Tokens & Icons and UncommonGoods were both founded in 1999 and became natural collaborators. Both focused on developing and offering products that have unique stories behind them. Tokens & Icons—as its name implies—started with New York City subway tokens that they fashioned into cufflinks. When they expanded into a variety of sports items, UncommonGoods served as Tokens & Icons’ “Kickstarter”—a way to try out new products and encourage outside-the-box transformations of nostalgic items.
UncommonGoods and Kickstarter are both Brooklyn-based B Corporations, but share something even more fundamental: They’re both focused on helping independent makers reach a broader audience. In that sense, this project is a grand slam, pairing Tokens & Icons and UncommonGoods with customers looking for a new way to commemorate the timeless connection of America’s Pastime.