Editor’s Note: Introducing our biggest pick-up yet, Will Startup, pro pitcher in the Tigers’ organization. Will has been as high as AAA, pitching to a 2.72 ERA paired with a sparkling 30-10 record in 8 seasons. Where I’m from we call that Pumping the Pearl. Will is currently working his way back up the foodchain after a 2008 elbow surgery, waiting for the call we’ve all dreamed of getting. Will is a cleat guru and is as qualified as anyone to educate us on them. I am so pumped to have him writing for WPW. We were already the best, and we just got a lot better. Twitter.
As a new contributing writer I would like to introduce myself. My name is Will Startup and I am currently playing for the Detroit Tigers at the double-A level. My goal is to give an in depth look into the world of baseball cleats from today, tomorrow, and yester-year.
I have been playing professionally since 2005 and have spent countless hours in various models of spikes. In season, I spend close to 5 hours a day in cleats. As a professional I keep a pulse on what my peers are wearing and get to see unreleased models debut. I have been a wear tester for Nike at the University of Georgia and I am currently wear testing for New Balance Baseball. I want to be able to give our readers a heads up on what is coming in the future and for those of you who are playing I would like to help guide you in purchasing the right cleat for you.
I have spent most of my career under the motto “fashion over function.” That is normally followed by “if you look better you play better.” I am always looking for a way to turn a normal cleat into a head-turner. Whether that be changing the laces or blacking something out I have to be different. I have had a passion for athletic footwear originating back to the 6th grade and have been groomed on Eastbay catalogs even before the word Internet was invented. I am a student of footwear so hopefully I will be able to give insight into the technical aspects of what makes a cleat go. Keep following us here at What Pros Wear to see the newest heat on top-tier athletes and peak into my personal collection as I open the vault on some originals.
As a current professional baseball player, these spikes take the cake for me. Outside of personal player editions, these cleats are the rarest to find. The Nike Air Max MVP is the first baseball cleat to utilize a full wrap around max air sole unit in the heel. They made their on-field debut at the PCL All Star Game in 2009 hosted by the Portland Beavers. Having extremely close ties to Nike and its headquarters in Beaverton, Oregon, the Portland Beavers had a limited amount of cleats made for every all-star player. Talk about an all-star goodie bag!
When I stumbled upon these I had no idea what the contents inside the iconic orange Nike box would be. When I slowly peeled the lid back I felt a warm glow hit my face as if I had just discovered long lost gold from a treasure chest. It took me minutes to process all of the upgraded materials: real suede, a speckled silver mudguard, a personalized “city of roses” logo on the heel and insole, the date embroidered as well as the stadium name (PGE Park). No doubt this is the best cleat I own. I have seen them pop up on eBay once in 4 years of their existence. I have worn them one time but never to play in. Sometimes cleats are so nice and so rare that they just have to be a piece of art. We would love to hear your thoughts on these and any questions you might have for me.