Fielder’s Choice: A Look at the Rise of Player Exclusives in the MLB

Jul 17, 2013 | Tee Jay Void |

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The “PE” attachment to sneaker titles may not carry the weight it once did, but the kicks the letters describe are usually noteworthy. For obvious reasons, basketball players as early as George Gervin have received personalized basketball shoes. It is not a rare occasion to see an NBA athlete rocking a popular pair of kicks in an unattainable colorway, complete with their own logo and jersey number. That trend has also made its way to the football field, as the number of NFL players with shoe contracts increase. However, if you have paid attention our Base Kicks column, you may have realized the brands are starting to dip into the MLB PE realm on a larger scale. Nice Kicks takes a look at this rising development, as we examine the growing number of MLB players wearing exclusive cleat colorways.

Adam Jones’ banned Nike Air Swingman MVP “Camo” PE Cleats

“PE” is an abbreviation for Player Exclusive, which describes sneakers that were made specifically for the athlete wearing them. The PE tag is usually attached when the shoe features elements that identify a particular player or team. With athletes wearing regulation uniforms, their footwear is generally the only way players can differentiate themselves and express their individuality. Unlike the NBA, players in Major League Baseball are up against strict uniform policies. On page 7 of the 2013 Official Baseball Rules, Rule 1.11(a)(3) states that “No player whose uniform does not conform to that of his teammate shall be permitted to participate in a game.” This rule of conformity was strictly enforced twice this year. MLB officials warned Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Carl Crawford to refrain from wearing the mismatching Jordan 6 Rings PE Cleats that he wore during the Jackie Robinson Day game. MLB went a step further to forbid Baltimore Orioles Centerfielder Adam Jones from donning Nike Air Swingman MVP “Camo” Cleats during a May game. These occurred after a similar “camo” was allowed during special Jackie Robinson Day festivities, and an off-field trainer with the exact same design was created. Does this mean the creativity of players’ game cleats are stifled to the point that brands would not consider lacing their athletes with special edition pairs? Read on.

Air Jordan 11 “Jimmy Rollins” PE Cleat

As late as two years ago, it was not a common occurrence to see a litany of PEs scattered throughout an MLB game. However, more attention was paid to the feet of baseball players when New York Yankees pitcher CC Sabathia and Phildelphia Phillies shortstop Jimmy Rollins were spotted in Air Jordan PE Cleats. Not only were there spikes added to favorite Jordan models, but the players wore colorways that were not available in sneaker form. This started the cry for Jordan Brand to release said color schemes to the public. That has yet to happen, but this year we have seen more players with Jordan PE cleats. Tampa Bay Rays pitcher David Price laced up one the best Jordan adaptations to date when he rocked an Air Jordan 12 PE cleat in a game earlier this season. Is Jordan Brand ahead of the curve, or are this wasted time and wasted dollars?

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