This story is from Judge delos Santos’ Pirates Beat newsletter. To read the full newsletter, Click here. And subscribe to receive it regularly in your inbox.
In the words of Mars Blackmon, it must be the shoes.
For the past half-decade or so, Tyler Beede has eschewed traditional baseball cleat designs, opting instead to rock sneakers-turned-spikes. The trend is relatively new in baseball, and Beede is one of many riding the wave.
“I like the comfort of a basketball shoe more than a baseball shoe,” Beede said. “I just feel like I have more room in the shoe, and it’s a bit more comfortable.”
The transition happened in 2016, when Beede pitched for the Richmond Flying Squirrels, the Double-A affiliate of the Giants. Beede started by modifying two pairs of Kobes — an all-black pair and a black-and-red pair, the latter matching Richmond’s color scheme. When Kobes’ value skyrocketed following the passing of namesake NBA legend Kobe Bryant, Beede converted to Kyries (NBA star Kyrie Irving’s signature shoe).
The process is quite simple. Beede starts, shockingly, by buying a pair of kicks. These days, he uses Wil Crowe’s Nike account to customize the shoes to his liking. Beede then sends them to Custom Cleats, and a week later the company sends the shoes back with the spikes installed. By his estimation, Beede currently has around six or seven pairs in his rotation.
The sneaker-turned-spike trend has become increasingly popular over the past few years, but sneakers aren’t the only types of shoes that ballplayers have converted to spikes. Michael Lorenzen gained popularity wearing Vans converted into spikes. Beede recalled a friend who put studs on wrestling shoes. Tyler Matzek went so far as to convert a pair of Christian Louboutins – yes, red stockings – into cleats. Would Beede go that far?
“I don’t think I would,” Beede said. “I’ve never been a designer shoe guy, so I don’t know how comfortable they are. But man, hey, if it’s comfortable for you and you want to throw some [spikes] on them, go ahead.