“A day after the collective bargaining agreement was reached, they called me and said, ‘How would you like to be the official rosin of Major League Baseball?’” Phillips said. “For a small business, a one-man operation in San Francisco, this was a pretty big deal for me.”
“Rosin has a lot of different characteristics to it,” Phillips said. “Our rosin works faster. It activates a bit quicker. I think MLB went with what I provide because it gets stickier quicker instead of having to doctor it up.”
Phillips gets his rosin from Honduras pine trees, the national tree of Honduras, where amber-colored sap is extracted in the spring by making cuts in the trees just below the lowest branches. Receptacles are wrapped below the cuts to collect the sap, a process similar to how maple syrup is harvested.
The sap then is boiled to distill out the turpentine, and what’s left is rosin that becomes hard and brittle. It’s packaged in 55-pound clumps and shipped to the East Coast, where it’s repackaged and sent to San Francisco. Phillips orders thousands of pounds at a time.
This all started as a hobby for Phillips, who in 2009 began playing in hardball leagues including the Bay Area Vintage Base Ball league, which reproduces the 1880s game including its uniforms, equipment and rules.