MLB All-Star Game 2021: An inside look at the custom cleat phenomenon

May 12, 2018; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Indians starting pitcher Mike Clevinger (52) walks off the field sporting pink cleats during the fourth inning against the Kansas City Royals at Progressive Field. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports
May 12, 2018; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Indians starting pitcher Mike Clevinger (52) walks off the field sporting pink cleats during the fourth inning against the Kansas City Royals at Progressive Field. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports /
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As the city of Denver prepares to host the 2021 MLB All-Star Game, there are plenty of preparations going on behind the scenes as well to make sure the players have a memorable trip to the Mile High City.

For many of the players participating in the All-Star Game, Home Run Derby, and even the Celebrity Softball Game, the statement they make with their feet is almost as important as the one they make with their bat or glove. Custom cleats that show off the player’s personality and causes that are important to him are becoming big business, and many MLB players are embracing the opportunity to show what matters to them. That includes Colorado Rockies shortstop Trevor Story, who isn’t shy to talk about his love of shoes.

As part of Play Ball Park inside the Colorado Convention Center this weekend, artists like Jonathan Hrusovksy are getting a chance to show off not only the cleats they have created, but also show fans how they are working on projects that you’ll see on the feet of MLB players (and those who wish they were) at Coors Field through the All-Star Game on Tuesday night. It’s part of the Sole Power exhibit, and is drawing plenty of onlookers.

So what do custom cleats have to do with the 2021 MLB All-Star Game?

While Hrusovksy and I were talking on Friday morning, fellow artist Jorge Soto was working on a pair of cleats that San Diego Padres second baseman Jake Cronenworth will wear during the All-Star Game. It’s an art form that has exploded onto the scene and takes plenty of communication between the player and artist.

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“There are players out there who want a whole crazy, vibrant kind of shoe. With that kind of detail work, it may take about 24 hours to turn around,” Hrusovksy explained. “Whereas a player that may want just a simple color swap with some small design on there, that could run you eight, nine, or 10 hours. It all varies, but I’ve never had a project that’s lasted more than 42 hours.”

Hrusovksy, who runs Hrusovksy Custom Kicks out of Cleveland, Ohio, has worked with many of the Indians players in the past and his work has even made its way to Cooperstown. When former Indians pitcher Mike Clevinger struck out his 200th batter of the 2018 campaign, the Baseball Hall of Fame asked for the shoes he was wearing, which were a Hrusovksy creation.

Next. A perfect combination is brewing for Monday's Home Run Derby in Denver. dark

Connecting with the players has been something that Hrusovksy has done through agents or contacting them directly, and word quickly spreads about his work. It’s brought him to Denver this week where he and other artists will be showing off their creativity on the feet of MLB players during the Midsummer Classic.

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