I was going through my storage the other day and happened upon a little cache of cleats that I used to use.
I wore Mizuno for my first couple of seasons and then switched over to Nike. Why? Comfort and money. Their cleats fit me the best and the contract they offered made sense.
After my third or fourth season, I started wearing plastic cleats most of the time. I found them to be much easier on my body. Maybe I was too slow to tell the difference, but I honestly couldn’t tell the difference traction wise. Once in a while if the plate area was particularly hard or sandy, or if I hadn’t gotten any hits in the plastic, I would switch back to the metal.
My thinking was this. If I wasn’t getting hits, it’s probably the cleats. If not my shoes, it could be the bat. Often times it was the batting gloves and once or twice it turned out to be my undershirt. Never me though.
Anyway, back to the cleats. These Nikes were, as they say in Hawaii, da special kine. They were extremely hard to get and not sold publicly. Basically the upper of the metal cleat is from a template they used in the late 80’s. The plastic soles on the other cleats are also from a mold they used in the 80’s. For me, it was all about those comfy plastic bottoms.
The bottom line was, and probably still is, the model they made in the late 80’s to early 90’s was pretty much perfect. Very little padding, simple, fit like a slipper. But they still have to sell right? Even though there wasn’t much to improve upon, Nike has to come up with a new and improved model for every future season. Air pockets, different cleat configurations, different looks, etc. You know the drill. Madison avenue. (This reality leads me to believe we’re being up-sold with all of the bells and whistles and padding on running shoes. We don’t need it. Go barefoot baby…but that’s a whole different subject.)
So this was my dilimna, I wanted to wear the same cleat I used in 1991 even though I was playing in the year 2004. Since I was little more than a walking billboard for Nike, they obviously wanted me wearing the latest and greatest. It didn’t do them a whole lot of good if I was wearing something over a decade old and Johnny couldn’t run over to Sportmart to buy it, right?
And that IS what happened. The baseball gear heads who really paid attention saw the cleats that I wore and started calling Nike asking for them. I turned out to be a major headache. That’s why I said they were extremely hard to get, even for me. I basically had to convince Nike that if I didn’t wear this particular ancient model, my body would fall apart. So that’s what I did. I got a doctor’s note, trainers note, principal’s note, and then layed down on the floor of the locker room in front of the Nike rep and threw a complete kicking and screaming tantrum until he said I could have em.
Man, it was all worth it. These cleats were da best.