In late March, Major League Baseball hosted “Opening Day at Home,” a virtual celebration during what was supposed to be the beginning of the 2020 season.
Nearly a month later, as the coronavirus continues to ravage the United States, MLB hasn’t announced when the baseball season will begin. And the lack of “America’s pastime” has had ramifications in Costa Rica.
Rawlings Costa Rica, which produces the baseballs used in Major League Baseball games, has laid off 190 workers.
“I appreciate the efforts Rawlings has made in Turrialba to postpone this decision as long as possible and to keep other jobs in the Turrialba area,” said legislator Laura Guido Pérez, who is from Turrialba, where the factory is located.
“I hope that after the pandemic, sports activity returns and the company can re-employ these people who today had to dismiss with pain.”
The 190 people who lost their jobs represent more than a third of Rawlings Costa Rica’s 500 employees, according to the daily La Nación.
Alejandro Cotter, general manager of Rawlings Costa Rica, told reporters that the company hopes to re-hire the workers who were laid off — but he acknowledged that it could take months before that happens.
Professional baseballs are made by hand at Rawlings Costa Rica. During normal operations, about 300 of the factory’s employees are sewers, while many others are assemblers or winders responsible for constructing a ball’s core.
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Costa Ricans who have lost their jobs during the COVID-19 crisis are eligible for the “Bono Proteger,” a three-month economic support package meant to cover essential needs.
Nearly 400,000 people have applied for the Bono Proteger, according to President Carlos Alvarado.