Batter Up: The 15 Best Baseball Training Shoes of All-Time

To get you ready for the Midsummer Classic, we're taking a look back at some best training shoes ever linked to the diamond.

words // Brandon Richard

Tonight, baseball's best will take the field in Minnesota for the 2014 MLB All-Star Game. To get you ready for the Midsummer Classic, we're taking a look back at some best training shoes ever linked to the diamond.

While baseball players do most of their work in cleated footwear, pre-game preparation is usually handled in rubber soled cross-trainers that are more conventional for off-field activities. For more than two decades, brands have churned out trainers geared for the sport. During the 90s, companies like Nike, Reebok and FILA pushed some of these models behind signature athletes. From Deion Sanders and Ken Griffey Jr to Frank Thomas and Hideo Nomo to Derek Jeter, baseball trainers have carved out a nice little niche in the world of sneakers.

We don't see as many baseball-specific trainers these days, as brands now favor more ambiguous styles equipped for a variety of sports. However, that may change with the newly introduced Nike Lunar Vapor Trout. Just a cleat at the moment, you can bet there'd be some intrigue if a training version of Mike Trout's sig ever hit retail.

While we wait to see if Nike makes that a reality, check out our 15 Best Baseball Training Shoes of All-Time and watch the MLB All-Star Game at 8:00 p.m. EST on FOX.


President Obama wearing Jordan Jeter Vital

15. Jordan Jeter Vital (2007)

We hate to say it, but Derek Jeter had an extremely underwhelming signature line for a player of his stature. It's also almost impossible to make a list of baseball's best trainers without showing a little love to The Captain. We went with the Vital, mainly so we could add this picture of President Obama going all AND1 Mixtape in his own pair.


Nike Air Griffey Max GD II Black/Red

14. Nike Air Griffey Max GD II (2001)

Though it dropped a few years later, the Air Griffey Max GD II felt like baseball's answer to the Total Air Max Uptempo. The 3/4 cut, Max loaded trainer worn by The Kid in Cincy was a more than adequate follow-up to some of its iconic predecessors.


Nike Air DT Max Black/White-Gold

13. Nike Air DT Max (1996)

We mostly remember this as a football trainer because Prime Time stepped away from the diamond to focus on football in 1996. It wasn't easy to stand out in the golden age of sneakers, but the DT Max's aggressive design made it an instant crowd pleaser.


Nike Air Nomo Max Black/Red

12. Nike Air Nomo Max (1996)

After Japanese sensation Hideo Nomo took Major League Baseball by storm in 1995, Nike responded by giving him a signature trainer. His career slowly faded and his line was scrapped after two models, but this Griffey-tooled classic will always have a following.


Nike Air Prime 9

11. Nike Air Prime 9 (1998)

Two things really stood out about the Prime 9. First, it looked like it could (and maybe should) have been a signature trainer. Second, you couldn't escape seeing it on the field at every level when it dropped.


Reebok Big hurt

10. Reebok Big Hurt  (1996)

Along with shoes like the Shaqnosis, Kamikaze and Blast, the Big Hurt was part of Reebok Mobius Collection, which consisted of shoes that featured a unique black and white 50/50 counterblock. The Big Hurt was supposed to return this year, and it did temporarily, but legal issues have slowed things down considerably.


Nike Air Zoom Diamond

9. Nike Air Zoom Diamond (1997)

Kenny Lofton's Air Zoom Diamond was almost a complete sign of the times. Patent leather featured on the upper, jeweled Swoosh branding, a sculpted midsole, Zoom Air cushioning and a partially translucent sole.


Nike Air Diamond Fury Ken Griffey Mariners

8. Nike Air Diamond Fury (1995)

What shoes like the Air Up and Air Go were to Penny Hardaway, the Air Diamond Fury was to Ken Griffey Jr. It wasn't an official Griffey sig, but we pretty much always associate the shoe with him because of that eye-catching 'Mariners' colorway.


Nike Air Griffey Max 3

7. Nike Air Griffey Max 3 (1998)

Carrying over a few cues from the first two Air Griffey Max models, the Griffey Max 3 was highlighted by deer-tan leather, a medial to lateral cross-strap and asymmetrical lacing system.


Nike Air Diamond Turf

6. Nike Air Diamond Turf (1993)

Why was Deion Sanders' signature line named Diamond Turf? In 1993, he played with MLB's Atlanta Braves from April to early October, the finished the second half of the NFL season with the Falcons. No better time to debut his two-sport signature shoe.


Nike Air Griffey Max II 2

5. Nike Air Griffey Max 2 (1998)

Griffey wore his follow-up sig during his best year in the majors. While racking up 56 home runs en route to MVP honors, he enjoyed the Griffey Max 2's molded synthetic upper, Dynamic Fit sleeve, reflective detailing along the sides, carbon fiber support and Max Air setup. Oh yeah, the shoe also marked the debut of the iconic Swingman logo.


Nike Air Diamond Turf II White/Black-Red-Gold

4. Nike Air Diamond Turf 2 (1994)

In 1994, Prime Time found new football and baseball homes, won his first Super Bowl and trained in the Diamond Turf sequel. The Air Diamond Turf 2 was a lot like the first, locking in the wearer with a thick midfoot cross-strap and supporting its ride with encapsulated Air.


Nike Air K-Low

(image via marco23d)

3. Nike Air K-Low (1996)

Extremely underrated and ahead of its time, the K-Low complemented Kenny Lofton's speedy game with an aggressive sprint outsole. Other features included a leather and mesh upper, 3M reflective panels, full-length Phylon and forefoot Zoom.


Nike Air Diamond Fury II 2

2. Nike Air Diamond Fury 2 (1996)

Much like the original, the Air Diamond Fury 2 was a favorite among major leaguers. Again, Nike went with a bold, mid 90s flavored design, adding leather overlays to a defense mesh upper, along with a sculpted midsole and visible Air.


Nike Air Griffey Max 1

1. Nike Air Griffey Max (1996)

Arguably the most popular and definitely the most frequently re-released Nike trainer, Griffey's debut model established him as one of the industry's premier signature athletes and changed the category as we knew it. Per Griffey's request, Nike laced him up in a versatile silhouette that enhanced various facets of his game. The training version featured a synthetic and durabuck build, internal Dynamic Fit system, dual-pressure visible Max Air and a waffle sole. The sleek, yet powerful design set the tone for what ended up being one of the all-time great signature lines.