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Everything You Need to Play Baseball Is Made in China — and Getting Hit by Trump’s Tariffs

 

Baseball is America’s pastime, but prices on its China-made gear are about to rise as the trade war escalates. Golf, lacrosse, basketball and other sports will feel the pinch, too.
 

Since 1983, Kim Karsh has helped baseball teams deal with an inconvenient fact of the modern economy: Almost everything you need to play America’s homegrown sport is now made in China, from cleats to batting helmets.

 

Lately, supplying the game’s amateurs and fans has gotten more difficult. Karsh owns California Pro Sports in Harbor City, California, where invoices for big customers now include a caveat: Prices are up due to the Trump administration’s tariffs on Chinese imports, and they could rise further on short notice.

 

“We have to explain to our customers that the trade war affects them as it does us,” Karsh said. “We can pass on pretty much everything to the consumer. The problem is, now they will shop lower-quality items. Some understand, and other people don’t.”

 

Although duties set to kick in soon will affect all manner of sports equipment that hasn’t been made in America for decades, baseball enthusiasts are perhaps affected most because so many items are needed to play the game.

 

Baseball caps were hit first by the third round of China tariffs that went into effect at 10% last September and rose to 25% in January, on top of the 7.5% base tariff. Those added about a dollar to the cost of a hat, Karsh said. Trump’s tariff will rise to 30% in October, bringing the total to 37.5%, and possibly causing another price increase.

 

Retail prices for metal bats have already risen $5 to $10 each, Karsh said, even though a 10% hike on bats and other sporting goods was put off until Dec. 15 as the Trump administration made a concession to the Christmas shopping season. On Aug. 23, President Donald Trump said he would jack up the levy to 15%.

 

Baseballs themselves faced tariffs starting Sept. 1, and although Karsh said prices haven’t increased yet, he’s expecting to add between $3 and $5 per dozen. “If you can buy now that would be a plus,” Karsh told customers in August, figuring the only direction the tariffs will go is up.

 

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