Sean Newcomb has a friend who has a friend who’s an artist and a former student at the University of Hartford, like Newcomb. The Braves pitcher knew that the guy, Corey Pane, had done some work on cleats for some of the Pittsburgh Steelers in the past.
And so, after Newcomb heard that major league baseball would have its first Players Weekend in September, with funky uniforms featuring nicknames on back, and with personalized cleats and such permitted and even encouraged, Newcomb had an idea.
Why not honor some of the greatest who ever played for the Atlanta Braves by getting some cleats made with their likenesses illustrated on the sides? After all, his size 14 feet and the mid-height he prefers – they’re almost hi-tops -- would provide quite a canvas, so to speak, on which Pane could do his thing.
The Nike cleats arrived this week, just in time for Newcomb to wear them in his Saturday start against the Rockies. And they are spectacular.
One cleat features legendary Hank Aaron on one side and Chipper Jones, Andruw Jones and Dale Murphy on the other. The other cleat has Phil Niekro on one side and the Big Three – Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, John Smoltz – plus fellow Hall of Famer Bobby Cox on the other side.
The end of the familiar Nike swoosh morphs into a tomahawk.
“Some throwback Braves players, ones who’ve had their number retired here,” Newcomb said. “It was just kind of a tribute to them and the history here. It’s Players Weekend, so I might as well put some players on my cleats. Pretty happy how they turned out.”
He said he didn’t realize they were going to be quite as bold as they turned out, but Newcomb liked them and so did everyone he showed them to Friday in the clubhouse. He wears his baseball pants all the way to the ground, so someone might need to encourage him to make an exception Saturday and leave some room at the bottom to show off those impressive kicks.
“We’ve got a whole weekend where we get to put our nicknames on our jerseys and kind of be ourselves a little bit,” he said. “It’s pretty cool. I am pretty excited to wear these cleats. I didn’t really expect them to be so extravagant, but they’re definitely pretty sweet.”