It started out as Mike Babcock’s face on a pair of socks. Now, Major League Socks has grown into a celebration of fandom guaranteed to put a smile on any sports fan’s face.
Two childhood friends, Tommy McCole and Jake Mednick, from the Beaches area of Toronto came up with the original idea of Babsocks while playing together in a men’s league game. As Leafs fans, the concept was simple enough – put (then head coach) Babcock’s face in cartoon form on blue socks.
“We were surprised by the virality of it at the beginning but it was a bit of an eye-opener. Because it came out of the gate so hot you have to take that for what it is,” said McCole. “People are obviously really excited about the product and to understand that we had something pretty cool.”
The grassroots company quickly gained popularity. As McCole and Mednick spent countless hours to grow the business and ensure they could meet the increasing demand, they also engaged with important causes in the hockey world through partnerships with organizations like CAMH and the Movember Foundation. Now they work with the NHL, NHLPA, NHL Alumni and MLBPA.
It’s the lessons they learned growing up at the rink that helped them along the way.
“One thing I think about a lot is preparedness and commitment. The more effort you put into something, whether it was power skating as a kid or the operations and systems of running the business, the more success you’re going to have,” said Mednick. “What brought us through the times when we were really in the unknown and didn’t understand how to run this thing was just simply hard work. I think that’s applicable in hockey more than any other sport because you can make up for a lot of tools you don’t have by simply working really hard.”
Their roots in minor hockey are not lost on the duo. They’ve made it a core part of their business.
“We made a commitment from day one to make sure our company is involved in the community and making a difference in some capacity,” said McCole. “I think now we have started to make more of an effort to get involved in making hockey a little bit more accessible through these fundraising initiatives.”
Minor hockey teams have raised over $75,000 just in the sale of socks.
“We had an opportunity that we didn’t before and giving back was just an easy decision,” echoed Mednick. “Hockey can be expensive and we want to make sure teams have the opportunity to raise money and go to tournaments, get equipment, everything that teams need. It’s the hockey community that gave us the opportunity to launch this business.”
The socks are often gifted and there are some who are viewing both the socks themselves as well as the boxes as collector’s items. Similar to the spirit of hockey cards, Major League Socks offers mystery packs where you don’t know which players you’ll get in the bundle until you open it.
The organization has grown to where they are now selling in NHL arenas. Along with current players, they offer the stars of previous generations like Joe Sakic, Wendel Clark and Stan Mikita.
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