Here’s a random question I can’t seem to find an answer to, but has been bugging me for years. A free Art of Catching Sticker to anyone who either knows the answer or makes up a really good story. The question is this…why do baseball cleats have extended tongues? What is their origin? What do they do/accomplish?
I honestly have no idea. I never cut them off my cleats like many players did because I just liked the way they looked. As Billy Crystal used to say, “It’s better to look good than to feel good darling.” Other than that, I can’t say they made a difference one way or the other.
I do remember a trend back in the 90’s where guys would get their numbers stitched on the tongue of the shoe. Guys like Wade Boggs and Eric Davis. I also vaguely remember some custom Nike’s that Tony Gwynn had that featured the number “5.5 Hole” on them. This was in tribute to the fact that 99% of Tony’s hits went through that hole between short and third. (On a scorecard the shortstop is “5″ and third baseman is “6″…a ball between the two is 5.5 hole.)
The funniest thing I ever saw on the tongue of a ball players cleats belonged to Jason Giambi. It took me a while to figure out what it meant (I’m not real smart). After he came up to bat for about the fifth time and I had a chance to get a close look, it finally dawned on me. What did it say? “G .” Translation…G spot. Very fitting for Jason in his heyday.
That’s all I know…get back to me with some answers and your free sticker.