A baseball cleat is part of a player’s shoe, but is also a term used to describe baseball shoes. Its purpose is to help a player gain traction while playing on defense or running the bases. Baseball cleats have evolved over time. Modern technology has created baseball shoes that are more sophisticated than traditional cleats, which has the athletic ability of players.
Ever since the first officially recorded organized baseball game was played in Hoboken, N.J., in 1846, baseball footwear has been a part of the game. Many of the game’s elite players had begun to use spikes on the bottom of their shoes by the 1860s and an all-leather baseball shoe was made available during the 1880s. Until the 1960s, these shoes were only available in such dark colors as black or brown. Since then, however, baseball shoes have come in a variety of colors. In the 1980s, baseball shoes with plastic cleats became available. Like the baseball bat and glove, cleats have changed as new technology has helped enhance the cleat’s effectiveness on the playing field.
Having the right pair of cleats can mean the difference between stealing second base or being thrown out by the catcher. It can also mean the difference between getting to a ball before it gets out of the infield, instead of the hitter safely reaching base. The right pair of cleats can help you get the ball to first base in time to record the out. You do not want a pair of shoes that hurt your feet or causes discomfort while playing.
The four types of baseball cleats are metal, turf, molded and interchangeable. Cleats should be chosen for the playing surface you will be playing on. Metal cleats are most useful and effective on harder playing surfaces while turf cleats have rubber bottoms that allow for more flexibility and work better on asphalt and concrete surfaces. Molded cleats are effective on many types of playing surfaces while interchangeable cleats allow you to change between metal spikes and other types of cleats.
An important consideration in choosing baseball cleats is your seriousness and competitiveness. Players at higher levels should invest in a higher quality pair of baseball cleats that can enhance their quickness, athleticism and comfort on the baseball field. Players who are just learning the game and playing in a less competitive league should consider purchasing a pair of molded cleats due to their effectiveness on many different playing surfaces.
Although some players might employ this as a strategy, cleats are not a weapon and should not be used to “spike” opposing players when sliding into bases. You can do serious damage to another player’s legs or knees when doing this. Be careful not to select the wrong type of cleats for a certain playing surface. This could lead to an ankle, leg or another type of injury. Choose a pair of cleats for the surface you’re playing on and for your skill level.
About this Author
Wade M. Harle is a first-year writer with a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Iowa State University. His work has been published on Examiner.com as a Davenport sports examiner.