Back in May of this year, Cubs second baseman Ben Zobrist received a written warning from MLB regarding his signature black throwback cleats that he liked to wear for day games. This came right on the heels of Cleveland Indians pitcher Mike Clevinger receiving the same slap on the wrist for wearing his own brightly-colored custom cleats.
The internet collectively scratched their heads about how absurd it was for the MLB to crack down on this minor rule, allowing players the tiniest bit of personal expression on the field.
It seems that MLB was listening.
On Thursday afternoon the Major League Baseball Players Association (MLBPA), announced that they had come to an agreement with MLB to amend to rules governing footwear that players wear on the field.
According to the statement released by the MLBPA, “Players may wear shoes displaying any of the following colors, in any proportion: (i) black, white, and gray; (ii) any colors displayed on the Player’s uniform (and certain variations thereof); and (iii) and additional colors designated by the Player’s Club.”
MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred said,
“Major League Baseball and its Clubs recognize the desire of Players to have more flexibility in this area and are pleased to announce the loosening of regulations that will permit more personalized and stylized footwear. We believe that this agreement strikes the appropriate balance between the shared goal of permitting Players to express their individuality while maintaining reasonable restrictions on shoe colors and designs.”
MLBPA Executive Director Tony Clark echoed that sentiment, saying, “We look forward to seeing [the Players’] creativity and individuality on the field in 2019.”
So this means, while gold cleats won’t become the norm, Zobrist’s black cleats will no longer pose a problem for MLB.