Wilson Sporting Goods is one of the largest manufacturers of baseball gloves in the US, but many are unaware that the company was founded by a Canadian.

Thomas E. Wilson was born in London, Ontario in 1868, then moved to Chicago at the age of nine. A railroad worker who had risen to become the president of one of Chicago’s many meatpacking companies, Wilson took the reins of Sulzberger and Sons in 1916 at the urging of the company’s financiers in order to save it from collapse. Sultzbeger and Sons was another meatpacking corporation, but had expanded into goods made from its animal byproducts, such as surgical sutures and footballs. 

Under the new banner of Wilson & Company, Thomas Wilson renamed its athletic gear subsidiary as Thos. E. Wilson & Company. Together with the newly appointed Sports Division President Lawrence B. Icey, Wilson focused on making the subsidiary a leading sports brand. Thos. E. Wilson & Company had the distinct advantage of being able to use the “waste” produced by its parent corporation as its raw materials, which meant it could create products faster and cheaper than its competitors. The leather used to make baseball gloves was one such byproduct.

This circa 1940’s first baseman’s mitt is a Wilson #563X Professional Model. It is a patented design with a seamless thumb and a hand-formed grease pocket.