Required sheep’s wool remains tied up at customs
TURRIALBA – Major League Baseball and Costa Rican factory workers simultaneously breathed sighs of relief after the Boston Red Sox handily won game 6 of the World Series and avoided what could have been an unparalleled national embarrassment.
Why? There were no more baseballs.
Production of MLB baseballs, which are manufactured in the Costa Rican mountain town Turrialba, stalled in early October as a customs dispute held up the import of yarn. One requirement to make all baseballs – which are each sewn by hand – is gray sheep’s wool yarn that is imported from New Zealand. Since July, when the final order came through from MLB, the last shipment of the wool had been locked up in Costa Rican customs.
“David Ortiz is a hero here,” said Guillermo Soto, a MLB factory worker. “Had he not hit like for a .700 average, game 7 would have been played with wadded up bags of Big League Chew.”
With recent crackdowns on the drug trade, Costa Rican customs checks have become more thorough. The season’s final yarn shipment contained wool from dozens of different sheep breeds, which resulted in slight color variations, according to the Costa Rican Customs Office. Head of customs Rafael Quiros said the yarn was really a “wolf in sheep’s clothing” and that he impeded the order “like a catcher blocks the plate.”
“Didn’t you see Lord of the Rings?” Quiros asked. “You never know what could come from New Zealand. What if the ‘my precious’ ring is in there, or Gollum? I don’t want that kind of thing on my conscience just so people can sew together some baseballs.”
MLB and factory workers are hoping the issue is resolved prior to spring training in March 2014.