words // Nick Engvall
This summer, Ken Griffey Jr.’s signature line is not only being revisited, but it’s also growing at the same time. Although Griffey has hung up the cleats for the last time, he’s still the front man for Nike Baseball’s Swingman line, which uses the iconic logo based off of The Kid’s follow through. The return of the Nike Air Griffey Max II, and the introduction of the Nike Air Max Jr., have helped keep Junior’s legacy moving along even though he is no longer playing professional baseball.
When thinking about Ken Griffey Jr.’s storied career and popular signature sneaker line, there is one thing that comes to mind that I miss the most about the mid-to-late nineties cleats that the future Hall of Famer wore. The fact that his signature shoes were available in both training versions and cleated versions. Sure, Derek Jeter’s signature models often see some colorways made in both, and the Swingmans did return in both versions last year, but imagine other current cleats recreated as training shoes. The Nike Air Max Diamond Elite Fly in team colored training shoes would have incredible potential. Any version of the Diamond Fury available in a turf version would also make more collectors happy than you could count.
One of the shoes from Griffey’s past that many will remember for being available in both cleated and turf versions, is the Nike Air Griffey Max III. Many might not remember the cleated version that Griffey wore as being equipped with Zoom Air, likely because the training version that was popular off the field was like the previous Griffey turf models and featured Max Air cushioning. However, one thing that is unforgettable is the image of Griffey wearing his third signature in the Home Run Derby in 1998 in that iconic “Swingman” pose. We can only hope that the ankle strap and asymmetrical laces of the Nike Air Griffey Max III are on the retro to-do list for the team at Nike, because now that they’ve stirred up memories with this summer’s releases, it only seems right that the 3 is on the way.
Take a look at the 1998 Baseball Cleats and Turf Training from the latest stroll through Eastbay Memory Lane. You’ll see not only Griffey’s, but a young hurler named Hideo Nomo’s second signature model, the Air Nomo Max II.