Zobrist and Schwarber defy MLB, wear black cleats


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Ben Zobrist wears black cleats during day games out of respect for baseball's legends. (Photo Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports)
Ben Zobrist wears black cleats during day games out of respect for baseball's legends. (Photo Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports)

CHICAGO — In the game between the Atlanta Braves and the Chicago Cubs on Monday afternoon, veteran Cubs leader Ben Zobrist continued with a tradition that he has been carrying out for the past few seasons now: wearing black cleats during afternoon games to honor baseball's pastime.

Despite being sent a warning letter by the MLB front office over the weekend that threatened him with future punishment if he continued to wear black cleats, Zobrist defied the powers that be, and teammate Kyle Schwarber stood with him.

Zobrist and Schwarber both donned black cleats on Monday, something that Zobrist started doing out of respect for the players of yore, who sported black cleats, regardless of uniform color.

While Major League Baseball controversially decided that it is a dress-code violation, Zobrist appears to be bracing to put up a fight against the overly strict ruling.

Dear @mlb, I still like you but this is rediculous. For the last two years, I have worn black spikes exclusively at Wrigley Field for Day games to pay homage to the history of our great game, and now I am being told I will be fined and disciplined if I continue to wear them. When I was a kid, I was inspired by highlights of the greats such as Ernie Banks and Stan Musial in the 1950s-60s and was captured by the old uniforms and all black cleats with flaps. @newbalancebaseball made a kid’s dream come true by making some all black spikes with the special tongue as well as the “Benny the Jet” @pf_flyers cleats. I am curious as to why @mlb is spending time and money enforcing this now when they haven’t done it previously in the last year and beyond. I have heard nothing but compliments from fans that enjoy the “old school” look. Maybe there is some kid out there that will be inspired to look more into the history of the game by the “flexibility” that I prefer in the color of my shoes. Sincerely, Ben Zobrist

A post shared by Ben Zobrist (@benzobrist18) on


When asked to share his thoughts on the mandate by MLB, Schwarber told the media, "I don't see the point there of why you would try to make a big deal (out) of a jersey or a pair of shoes."

As for Zobrist, he plans to call MLB's chief baseball officer, legendary manager Joe Torre, to discuss the situation.

"My question's going to be, 'Why?'" Zobrist told the media when discussing what he plans to say to Torre. "And we'll see what kind of answer I get. Why now? I think all players are kind of wondering that. Hopefully, I get an answer and we can move forward."

The throwback cleats were especially symbolic for Monday's game, as the Cubs honored Jackie Robinson by sporting the number 42 on all their jerseys.

Needless to say, Robinson was just the kind of transcendent player from baseball's pastime who Zobrist is honoring with his classic cleats. And Robinson would have assuredly been proud of Zobrist for his display of steadfast devotion to his cause in the face of adversity.

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