[Editor’s Note: Long before this site existed, reader Mark Mihalik had already earned the title of Uni Watch Lifetime Achievement Scholar, primarily for his observations regarding footwear. He doesn’t contribute as often as he did in those days, but he recently sent a manifesto that made it clear he hasn’t lost anything off his fastball. Enjoy. — PL]
[Intern’s Note: With Paul gone, we’ll take a few days to recognize some of the writing contributions of your fellow readers. This is the first of three that you can look forward to, along with a new entry by yours truly early next week. — VG]
By Mark Mihalik
One thing I’ve been following over the past year or so is baseball players who wear basketball sneakers or cross-trainers with modified, cleated outsoles. Here’s an update on what I’ve noticed recently:
First of all, Frank Thomas is still wearing Nike Shox Ups this year with the Jays (just in all black instead of white and green like last year). I’ve recently noticed that Eric Chavez (pictured wearing sneakers here, here, and here) had switched to normal, unmodified baseball cleats for a while (he’s wearing Nike’s baseball Huarache 2k4 shoe here), but now he’s back to his old tricks. Chavez is pictured here wearing the original basketball Huarache 2k4, and he’s in the Huarache 64 basketball sneaker here (I added pictures of the original shoes and Nike’s MCS plates that were built into both sneakers).
None of that was too surprising — I figured all of these modifications could’ve just been done by MLB equipment managers, which is what I assumed was the case with Orlando Cabrera (here, here, and here), Jermaine Dye, and Jim Thome in the past.
But then I was watching the College World Series and I noticed that UNC’s Dustin Ackley is wearing a pair of Air Jordan 11’s with cleats added. Now, most of these modifications have been done on Nike shoes, so I suppose it is possible for Nike to make the customized shoes for their MLB players, but I find it hard to believe that they’d do the same for a college athlete.
But then I did a little snooping around, and found something interesting: Custom Cleats Inc.
If you look around the company’s site, you can see that anyone can provide them with a pair of sneakers and a pair of cleats or just a pair of sneakers, and they’ll put cleats on your sneaker for $89. Interesting stuff. I don’t know if they’re responsible for any of the footwear of the pro or college players that I mentioned, but I think they’d be worth contacting. [Agreed. I’ll get on it soon. — PL]
Friendly Reminder: Paul’s on vacation. If you have questions, observations, or contributions, send them to Vince.
Uni Watch News Ticker: In a move that begs the question, “Will Willie Nelson or Woody Harrelson be in attendance?”, Drew Samuelson notes that on July 20, the Lake Elsinore Storm will be wearing hemp jerseys as part of a “Goin’ Green” promotion that will include organic and healthy concessions, ecological tips, and green fireworks, whatever that means… On Saturday, August 25, the New Hampsire Fisher Cats, the AA affiliate of the Blue Jays, will play one game as the New Hampshire Primaries. That was their original name after their creation in 2003, but an uproar led to a quick name change (very electoral thanks to Bryan Widell)… Fantastic article passed on by Bill Ardizoia about Helmet Hut’s contributions to the uniform (and more specifically, helmet) reproductions for the upcoming movie about Ernie Davis entitled, “The Express”, great read… P.J. Mallardi thinks that BJ Surhoff’s old UNC baseball uni looks pretty cool, especially the helmet… A Uni Watch secret agent has told us that Rice’s football helmet this fall will now be navy and white with an Old English “R”, which would be a fantastic change in my opinion… This might be the coolest piece of fan clothing you can own if you really like Brazilian water polo… Reprinted from yesterday’s comments section, the Tennessee Valley Vipers will be wearing camouflage jerseys for a military appreciation night this Saturday… Enjoy your weekend folks.