Home News Jackie Robinson Nike Air Force 1

Jackie Robinson Nike Air Force 1

by admin

NEW YORK — Byron Buxton didn’t even have to see the sneakers to start getting excited. Just the box was enough.

“Are these the shoes?” the Twins All-Star outfielder said, his eyebrows raised, as the box was handed to him during a visit to MLB headquarters in Manhattan. “We got the new ones, huh?”

Seconds later, Buxton was turning over Nike’s new Jackie Robinson Air Force 1 sneaker in his hands, his eyes wide, taking in all the details.

“These are nasty,” Buxton said. “Oh my goodness!”

So … does that mean they do justice to baseball’s greatest trailblazer?

“100 percent,” Buxton answered with no hesitation. “It’s kind of hard to put these into words, but they definitely do justice. [No.] 42 on the sides, the baseball stripes on the back … it represents him to the fullest.”

The best sneakers are an exercise in advanced storytelling, and these easily fit the bill. The AF1 is an elegant shoe renowned for its simplicity, and here it gets bells and whistles unique to Robinson: the Brooklyn B on the tongue, the No. 42 on the heel, red baseball stitching and a speckled gum sole to symbolize the clay infields he played on.

The laces feature the phrase Change the World, which as Buxton pointed out, is exactly what he did. The metal lace locks are emblazoned with 1947 on one shoe and 1956 on the other, spanning Robinson’s Hall of Fame career. And if you look inside the shoe, the left sockliner features one of his most inspirational quotes: “A life is not important except for the impact it has on other lives.”

The sneakers channel Robinson so perfectly, one can easily picture him wearing them on the field, though he retired nearly 30 years before the first AF1 dropped in 1982.

“The Air Force 1 was the first basketball shoe with Air cushioning in the sole, and it was a design that stood the test of time,” said Jemayne Lavar King, PhD director of the Institute of Hip Hop and Cultural Studies at Virginia State University. “Jackie Robinson is a player who could have played in any era, because of his unique skill set. He’s a multisport athlete. And the Air Force 1 is a shoe that’s as timeless as his game.

“Someone outside of sneaker culture, outside of baseball might say, ‘What are you trying to say there? No way you can compare a shoe to him.’ But we’re talking about the longevity, we’re talking about the reputation, the multicultural impact.”

Nike actually attempted to sunset the Air Force 1 a year after its debut to make room for other models, but with demand still rampant on the East Coast, three sneaker boutique owners in Baltimore teamed up and convinced the Swoosh to bring the shoe back. It sold like it was going out of style — literally — and four decades later, you can still see lowtop AF1s (widely known as Uptowns, for their popularity in Harlem) up and down the I-95 corridor and in subway cars throughout Jackie’s old stomping grounds.

“My dad said on the 15th, I should wear it,” Griffey said at the time, “that it’s a number that is something special. This is his day. [Robinson] worked hard for each and every one of us in this locker room.”

That said, for the past two years, Robinson has a sneaker all to his own – a wonderful development. As Griffey succinctly said, it’s his day. And to attach him to a mainstream sneaker serves to amplify his impact on civil rights to an entirely new audience.

“There are some people who may know the name Jackie Robinson, but they might not know anything else but the name,” King said. “It’s introducing his legacy, his work, his philanthropy — everything associated with him — it’s introducing him to a new generation. This is a visual reminder of who the man is. It’s almost like a starting point.”

But for those already familiar with him, wearing the AF1 to and from the game serves as one more golden opportunity to feel a connection with one of baseball’s most inspirational figures.

“It’s definitely going to give me a boost,” Buxton said. “You don’t look down and have the No. 42 on your shoes every time you play, so to look down and know that these are shoes that Jackie possibly could have been wearing … it’s just one of those things where you try to cherish that moment and take in everything you can.”

Source Link

You may also like

Leave a Comment