When Major League Baseball’s All-Stars take the field this week, they have an opportunity to make a statement with what’s on their feet. American and National League players will be wearing cleats customized by artists or their shoe endorsement brands to show off their personalities or causes that are important to them.
The Orioles will be represented in the All-Star Game by four players for the first time since 2016. Adley Rutschman and Austin Hays will wear cleats provided by Nike and Under Armor, respectively. Yannier Cano and Félix Bautista will wear cleats designed by Miami-based artist Marcus Rivera, known as SolesBySir.
For the 6-foot-8, 285-pound Bautista, for whom Rivera customized a special July 4 cleat last week, one shoe in his pair will have an All-Star feel while the other will have a Baltimore influence, Rivera told The Baltimore Banner by phone.
“It was certain features he wanted on the shoe,” Rivera said. “The All-Star logo, the Orioles logo, his number and The Mountain, his nickname. Outside of that, he let me have free control.”
For Cano, Rivera featured two different designs in his pair as well. One cleat will also be Baltimore-themed with the Orioles mascot, while the other pays tribute to his home, Cuba.
Rivera is well known among athletes because he’s created hundreds of cleats/shoes for players and coaches across the MLB, NBA and NFL. In addition to the style of shoe, his creative designs vary. With baseball expanding to more corners of the world, the cleats Rivera designs for players feature more flags and heritage than other sports.
“It’s a different style,” Rivera said. “I believe it’s a little flashier. You get a lot of flags, more heritage. [They’re] very proud of where they come from. A lot of them want their flags on there or their city they were born at. It’s a different style of design.”
Although Hays and Rutschman will wear cleats provided by their endorsement companies, the fits they’ll don Tuesday are personalized. Both will be wearing tailored suits by Tom Marchitelli, a self-taught tailor who has crafted fits for Padres star Fernando Tatis Jr., plus NFL stars Dak Prescott and Justin Jefferson.
When the MLB announced the 2023 All-Star Game would be headed to Seattle, it was an opportunity to spotlight Ken Griffey Jr. and his influence on baseball culture.
There’s much to admire about the impact the Hall of Famer has had in Seattle, and his influence on the sport has inspired thousands of players. With his photogenic grin, signature backward cap and sweet swing, he embodied cool and transcended the sport in the 1990s. As baseball embarks on its 93rd All-Star contest, his influence is even more prevalent today with how players can embrace their creativity.
That players even have the chance to showcase that on their feet and with their attire is another ripple effect from Griffey first putting on his cap backward: the (eventual) acceptance of individuality, swagger. It has expanded beyond baseball and much further from his time, when he often caught unnecessary flak for it. It’s opened many doors for baseball players today.
His impact on the week started Friday, when he hosted his inaugural HBCU Swingman Classic to highlight the history and legacy of historically Black college and university baseball programs and provide players an opportunity to showcase their talent on a national stage.
“He had swag before it was a thing,” Rivera said of Griffey. “He wore his hat backwards; he had wristbands; he had things certain players at the time weren’t doing. He definitely opened it up to players to get a lot more of what I like to call personal touches to it. … Because of players like that, players now grow up watching those guys and hearing about those guys. Now they just take it to the next level.”