A Look Back: Eastbay Baseball April 1998

A Look Back: Eastbay Baseball April 1998

By Drew Hammell

The month of April is always a special time of year for baseball players young and old. The days are getting longer, the temperatures are getting warmer, and the smell of freshly cut grass is in the air. There’s nothing like the sound of a baseball popping crisply into a soft mitt or cracking sharply off a new bat. Every player has hope and excitement for what the upcoming season will bring. Every team has the opportunity to gel together for a championship run. Every kid has a hero (or two) that they want to emulate. Back in 1998, aspiring players wanted to throw heat like Hideo Nomo, fly around the base paths like Kenny Lofton, and crush the ball like Ken Griffey Jr. Of course, they wanted their shoes, too.

Here’s a look back at three Nike athletes featured in the April 1998 Eastbay catalog, and the footwear those stars were wearing.

Hideo Nomo – Nike Air Nomo Max II

With his tornado-style windup that both confounded batters and wowed fans, Japanese pitcher Hideo Nomo took the league by storm in 1995. Nomo’s baseball cards skyrocketed in value during his first major league season with the LA Dodgers. Japanese fans came out in droves and often flew over from Nomo’s homeland to see him pitch in the USA. As a rookie, Nomo led the league in strikeouts and was second in the league with a 2.54 ERA. He even started in the All-Star Game and struck out 3 of the 6 batters he faced. He would continue his success the next two seasons, but would not fare as well in ’98. Overall, Nomo had a stellar 12-year major league career, leading the league in strikeouts twice and tossing three no-hitters.

Though Nomo had a rough ’98 season, his shoes were still noteworthy. On the field, Nomo wore the Nike Air Nomo Metal. The model featured an abrasion-resistant synthetic leather upper, and a two-color Phylon midsole wedge. The Air Nomo cleat had low-profile forefoot and heel Zoom Air cushioning units – Nike’s latest cushioning advancement that kept the athlete’s foot low to the ground for extra speed and comfort.

The coinciding Air Nomo Max II was touted as Nike’s best-cushioned trainer. The Nomo Max had a synthetic leather and mesh three-quarter height upper, but ditched the Zoom Air in exchange for a dual-pressure, Max-Volume heel Air-Sole unit and a large-volume forefoot Air-Sole unit.

Kenny Lofton – Nike Air K-Lo

Back in the ‘90s, Kenny Lofton was heralded as one of the speediest players in the league. Lofton was a two-sport athlete in college, excelling in both baseball and basketball with the Arizona Wildcats. He’d stick with baseball after that and would go on to play 17 years in the Big Leagues. He was a 6-time All Star, a 4-time Gold Glove winner, and a 5-time stolen base leader (including 75 in 1996 with the Cleveland Indians).

His footwear in 1998 wasn’t too shabby, either. On the field, Lofton rocked the Air Zoom K-Lo. This metal cleat was built on a track and field last, with an ultra-lightweight, synthetic leather-and-mesh upper specifically designed for players like Lofton who craved speed. The model had a full-length internal polyurethane innersole cover. The K-Lo also had a low-profile forefoot Zoom Air cushioning unit (no Zoom Air in the heel, though). The finishing touch was a jewel Swoosh on the side, which has become popular again in 2018.

Sneaker-wise, Nike designed the Air K-Lo for Lofton: a minimalistic cross trainer with a track spike for artificial turf. The model featured a lightweight leather-and-mesh upper and a full-length Phylon midsole. The K-Lo had a forefoot Zoom Air unit and an aggressive sprint/speed outsole. With a price point of only $74.99 and a weight of only 10.5 ounces, it was one of the lightest and best-valued trainers available.

Ken Griffey – Nike Air Griffey Max III

One of the greatest baseball players of all time was at the peak of his powers entering the 1998 season with the Seattle Mariners. In 1998 alone, the Swingman would hit 56 homeruns and knock in 146 RBI. In his storied 22-year career, he was a 13-time All-Star and 10-time Gold Glove Award winner. In 2016, The Kid was elected into the Baseball Hall of Fame receiving 99.32 percent of the vote.

On the field in ‘98, Junior sported the Air Griffey Metal. This top-of-the-line cleat featured a deer-tan and full-grain leather upper, and a cubic-dipped Pebax plate which provided excellent flexibility and added cushioning. There were also low-profile forefoot and heel Zoom-Air units for superior cushioning.

The Air Griffey Max 3 trainer model also had a supple deer-tan leather upper with an asymmetric lacing system and medial to lateral upper strap. Like the Nomo Max, the Griffey Max swapped out the Zoom Air for forefoot and heel Max Air cushioning units. The Griffey Max 3 was available in both black/silver/white and grey/black/red in the April catalog.

These three baseball trainers and their respective cleat versions formed an impressive body of work for Nike in 1998. There were plenty of other training models available as well, but Nomo, Lofton, and Griffey Jr. were the primary spokesmen that year. All three players will be remembered for their very different talents on the field, but they definitely had one thing in common: fire footwear.

Legendary Sluggers Of The All-Star Break

Legendary Sluggers Of The All-Star Break

Ever since 1985, the league’s top power hitters have come together every year to put on a show for fans during the All-Star break via the home run ball. The rules have changed over time, but the overall purpose of the derby is simple: given the same limits of outs or time, hit more home runs than everyone else.

From Darryl Strawberry to fan favorite Ken Griffey Jr., these legends have consistently put on great performances, showing baseball fans what true home run power looks like. Over the 20+ years that this competition has been televised, ratings have soared, and in 2008 it was named the year’s most highly rated basic cable program.

As this year’s All-Star break approaches, we’re marking the occasion with a list of our favorite throwback participants from the 1980s and 1990s. Feel free to comment below with any of your favorites from this era.

Ken Griffey Jr.

Ken Griffey Jr.: Griffey Jr. participated in a total of eight derbies in his career and came away with three wins, the most of any player in league history. In 1998 and 1999, Griffey Jr. won back-to-back events with 19 and 16 home runs thanks to his smooth left-handed swing. You can also never forget the backward cap Griffey Jr. donned during his at-bats.

Bo Jackson gear

Bo Jackson: Although we will never really know what Jackson could have done if it wasn’t for his hip injury, we can assume that he would have been one of the best professional two-sport athletes of all time. Jackson participated in the 1989 derby in Anaheim, California and hit a total of 32 home runs that season for a total of 141 in his short lived career.

Darryl Strawberry gear

Darryl Strawberry: Throughout his 17-year-career, Strawberry was one of the most feared hitters because of his home run power. He participated in two derbies during his career as a Met, and was a significant factor in his teams’ win in 1986 when he led his team with 4 home runs (The derby had a total of 10 outs at this time, as compared to the modern day 30).

Cal Ripken Jr. gear

Cal Ripken Jr.: Ripken is known as one of the best shortstops, hitters, and personalities to ever be a part of the game, and was the face of the Baltimore Orioles for 20 seasons. The Hall Of Famer and 19-time All-Star, participated in three derbies during his career and, most notably, led his team to a win in 1991 with his 12 bombs.

Mike Piazza gear

Mike Piazza: As a Hall Of Famer Piazza was one of the best offensive catchers to play the game, and hit 427 home runs over his career with five teams. He made two derby appearances, had a career batting average of .308, played above average defensively, and paved the way for modern day offensive-focused catchers in the league.

When taking in the 2017 All-Star festivities, don’t miss the opportunity to rep your favorite retro player right with their batting practice jersey from Mitchell & Ness and the New Era MLB 59Fifty Home Run Derby Cap, available now at eastbay.com.

Nike Air Griffey Max 1 – Black/Light Magnet Grey-Metallic Silver

Nike Air Griffey Max 1 – Black/Light Magnet Grey-Metallic Silver

Nike Air Max Griffey 1 - Black/Light Magnet Grey-Metallic Silver (1)

words // Brandon Richard
images // Darrell Martin

A Nike Sportswear staple, Ken Griffey Jr’s debut signature shoe is back for another round.

This time, the Air Griffey Max 1 goes with a look that could be loosely linked to his brief stint with the Chicago White Sox. Black nubuck works with metallic silver leather overlays on the upper, with the logos and branding hits taking their familiar positions throughout.

These casual Nike sneakers are available for $150 at Eastbay. Gradeschool and toddler sizes are on hand as well.

More Release Dates

Available 9/13: Nike Air Griffey Max 1 – Black/Light Magnet Grey-Metallic Silver

Nike Air Max Griffey 1 - Black/Light Magnet Grey-Metallic Silver (2)

Nike Air Max Griffey 1 - Black/Light Magnet Grey-Metallic Silver (3)

Eastbay Memory Lane // Ken Griffey Jr. for Nike Baseball Spring 2000

Eastbay Memory Lane // Ken Griffey Jr. for Nike Baseball Spring 2000

words // Brandon Richard

Baseball is in its offseason, but we’re celebrating a legendary major leaguer’s birthday with a look back at a Nike Baseball page from our Spring 2000 catalog.

Today’s Eastbay Memory Lane is a tribute to Ken Griffey Jr., who turns 44-years old. Back in 2000, Griffey was on the verge of playing his first season with the Cincinnati Reds after 11 years in Seattle. His signature cleat that season was the Nike Air Griffey Metal, pictured in a variety of styles below. Mirroring the technological advances Nike was making in basketball at the time, the Air Griffey Metal was packed with new performance tech. The cleat featured a deer-tan and full-grain leather build, a Form collar, phylon midsole wedge, full-length Zoom Air and a lightweight Pebax plate.

In the Air Griffey Metal, Junior hit 40 home runs, knocked in 118 RBIs and made his eleventh-straight All-Star Game.

A testament to his greatness, a wide variety of Ken Griffey shoes are still available today. Which Griffey model is your all-time favorite?

Eastbay Memory Lane // Ken Griffey Jr. for Nike Baseball Spring 2000

Nike Air Griffey Max 1 – Cool Grey/Black-Pimento

Nike Air Griffey Max 1 – Cool Grey/Black-Pimento

words // Luis Sanchez

The iconic Air Griffey Max 1 arrives at Eastbay in a color scheme inspired by Griffey’s days with the Cincinnati Reds.

One of several new colorways for the Griffey Nike Training shoes available from Eastbay, this new look also takes over a mesh and patent leather build. Black and cool grey take over most of the upper, while pimento red brings to life the Cincinnati Reds inspiration along the midsole, Swoosh outline and other areas throughout.

The Cool Grey/Black-Pimento Nike Air Griffey Max 1 is now available here at Eastbay.

Available: Nike Air Griffey Max 1 – Cool Grey/Black-Pimento

Nike Air Griffey Max 1 - Cool Grey/Black-Pimento