Not much light to shed. Pro Staffs were originally made in St Vincent Island in the Carribean. There used to be a site that had the history of the Pro Staff, but basically they moved the manufacturing to China and the result was, as is normally the case with moves to China, less quality control. This is from the Tennis Warehouse main site (http://www.tennis-warehouse.com/Reviews/60/StVincent.html
This ex-Wilson factory would likely be a footnote in the history of racquet production were it not for Pete Sampras. It has become common knowledge among Sampras fans and ProStaff officianados that Pete only plays with racquets that were made in St.Vincent, a Carribean island in the Grenadines.
The island of St. Vincent was originally chosen as a manufacturing site by a group of Wilson VPs who were touring the Carribean region, searching for a suitable factory site. Why the Carribean? If you've spent a winter in Wilson's hometown of Chicago, you wouldn't need to ask. Ken Sherman, ex-Wilson engineer explains more seriously, "the Caribbean region was attractive as a manufacturing location due to its tax-free status. No taxes were paid on materials going in and no taxes paid on finished products coming out. At the time, St. Vincent was already manufacturing clothing, gloves, etc. There was a factory shell that had been originally built to produce Maidenform bras but Wilson ended up buying it in 1982 to finish and assemble raw frames produced in our Chicago factory. In 1983, Wilson changed it into a manufacturing house and it produced a variety of models, including the ProStaff Original. When we started, there were 50-60 workers finishing and assembling racquets. When the factory closed in mid-1991, there were over 450 direct laborers manufacturing, finishing and assembling Wilson racquets."
What made St. Vincent ProStaffs so special? Ken responds, "it was a combination of factors. One difference was that the workers had no previous experience and thus had no bad habits. We trained them how we wanted racquets made and they followed our instructions to a tee. They were loyal, hard workers and competed against each other for the lowest number of rejected racquets, keeping work areas neat, etc. As a result, our reject rate was close to zero. Also, each frame was bar-coded and tracked from start to finish through the manufacturing process. Consequently, if a racquet was too heavy, we could determine where the error originated. This resulted in very high quality control." David Price, former Engineering Manager at the St. Vincent factory from 1989-1991 continues, "the key to our quality and consistency was the sophisticated tracking system. We had huge amounts of statistical data from measuring raw materials and racquets up to 20 times during the manufacturing process. Our quality control was second to none in the industry at that time." Rich Janes, a former colleague of Sherman and ex-Wilson engineer adds, "there was also the molds. Over time, they became worn and a little loose and they wouldn't close completely. As a result the ProStaff Original came out at 18mm, instead of 17mm." Nobody at Wilson can confirm this but it adds to the St. Vincent factory's mystique. Whatever the real reasons, a few top players just prefer the feel of ProStaffs manufactured in St. Vincent. Who's gonna argue with Pete Sampras?
I used to know how to tell the difference between the two, but I don't remember all the little things that mark the difference, but in the end it really doesn't matter. Is it possible to find a St Vincent? Yes, but if you do find one, you are going to pay big bucks for it. Then you have to be sure it's a St Vincent. It's to the point where if you do get one, you won't want to play with it. So what's the point?
When it's all said and done, that model Pro Staff is a solid, but dead racquet. I actually had one back in the late 80's and it was like playing with a board. You are better off finding an nCode 6.1, or KFactor 90. Same weight, balance, and design, better responsiveness (from the material), and less stress (in finding and vetting it). The K Factors are still priced in the $150-$200 range. But the nCode version is affordable.
The bottom line is the St Vincent is a museum piece. A historically great racquet, but the effort to get one, and the expense just isn't worth it.