A civil rights hero. A revolutionary baseball player. No player has impacted modern sports more than Brooklyn Dodgers legend Jackie Robinson. His major league debut on April 15, 1947 brought an end to almost sixty years of racial segregation in pro baseball while his aggressive base running and clutch hitting changed the way the game was played. So in honor of the 70th anniversary of Jackie breaking the color barrier, adidas has crafted a signature cleat and turf trainer that pay homage to the legendary man and athlete. We got a chance to sit down with adidas Product Manager Matt Van Wyen and Color & Material Designer Trenton Williams to learn what makes both products so special.
Matt Van Wyen (MVW): “This is our third year making a Jackie Robinson cleat. But this time, we wanted to focus on just how special Jackie Robinson was. He changed the game in so many ways. Not only did he change it from a cultural perspective, but he changed it performance-wise too. His aggressive base running redefined how speed was utilized in baseball. He stole home 19 times!
At adidas baseball, we are the speed brand and we fuse speed with cleathead culture. When we look at who the ‘Godfather of Speed’ was at the MLB level, it had to be Jackie. So we set out to make him the signature cleat that he deserves. We gave him a model of our adiZero Afterburner 4, the lightest cleat in baseball.
Trent Williams: “We really wanted to do something this year that signified that 70 year anniversary of Jackie breaking the color barrier. So we looked back at that time of his career and noticed the unique style of his rookie uniforms. We drew a lot of inspiration behind that for this cleat.
The bottom of the plate has a bronze color. That’s based off of his Hall of Fame bust.
There’s a famous photo of Jackie leaving Dodger stadium, waving to the camera as he retired. It’s actually been 60 years since that moment. In it, he’s wearing this really cool tweed coat. We brought that into these products, especially the trainer. He was a style icon as well.
The facade of Ebbets Field (Brooklyn’s home stadium) is on the heel cap because it’s also the 60th anniversary of the closing of that stadium.”
MVW: “When a shoe or cleat is iconic at adidas, we give it that gold foil stamp. You’ll see that on the outside of these and then, on the inside, there’s a commemorative pack celebrating the 70th anniversary of Jackie breaking the color barrier with his signature.
This year, we’re also partnering with Jackie Robinson’s high school, John Muir in Pasadena, California, to bring a community service aspect to this and demonstrate how sport has the power to change lives.
But really, with this release, we wanted to harken back to adidas’ DNA in sports and show the consumer how much of an icon Jackie truly is.”