Many Indians fan will remember the inscription of “Believeland” on Francisco Lindor’s Under Armour cleats in the 2016 World Series, its gold font popping against Lindor’s fire engine red footwear. This season will bring some changes and Lindor has not only left UA, but has signed on with New Balance to be the face of their entire baseball cleat business. Lindor, a Gold and Platinum Glove winner in 2016, will be outfitted both on and off of the field by the brand predominantly known for its running shoes. Marking a huge move for the global footwear company, inking the Cleveland Indians shortstop is an homage to the All-Star’s trajectory as a player as well as how marketable of a player he is in a landscape that is oftentimes unkind to such endeavors.
“Francisco Lindor represents the heart of the New Balance Baseball brand: a young, exciting player with incredible talent who displays joy and passion for the game as well as a genuine desire to give back to the community that supports him,” Ray Hilvert, VP of sports marketing for New Balance, said in a statement. “We’re thrilled to embark on this new relationship and look forward to elevating Francisco’s star power around the world as a global ambassador for New Balance and NB Baseball.”
Major League Baseball has long had issues marketing stars, but if this deal is any indication, they have a highlight-making shortstop who is gift-wrapped for the occasion. As pointed out by ESPN’s Darren Rovell, Lindor was recently mentioned by MLB commissioner as a player who the league needs to market more.
“We have great raw material right now,” Manfred said. “The Kris Bryants, the Mookie Bettses, the Francisco Lindors, and we need to capitalize on that great raw material.”
A recent story from Cleveland.com’s Zack Meisel piles on to the notion of Lindor’s ascent, detailing the shortstop’s upcoming week which is full of appearances and photo shoots, including the cover of Sports Illustrated for Kids and two days of shooting for his brand new sponsor. He was painted as a kid who came into the MLB system with a Big League-ready glove, but was one who needed work with the bat in his hand. He’s done nothing but prove doubters wrong, posting a career slash line of .306/.356/.454 (.810 OPS). Meanwhile, though entering his third season with the Tribe, Lindor is just 23 years of age. All it takes is one glance at the kid during an Indians game to see his pure love of the game, blasting an ear-to-ear grin in the field and hurdling the dugout barrier to celebrate the accomplishments of his teammates at the plate—the perfect concoction for the league’s marketing-based focus.
“With the new and innovative on- and off-field gear New Balance is designing, I am very excited to become a huge part of the brand,” Lindor said via press release. “The opportunity to be a global ambassador for such a great company is amazing and humbling, and it’s been great learning about our shared commitment to community and charity. I’m honored to have such a prominent role in continuing the great momentum behind the NB brand.”
Other high-profile MLB players to wear New Balance cleats include Jose Altuve, Robinson Cano, Dustin Pedroia and Yoenis Cespedes. Former Indian first baseman Nick Swisher was a long-time wearer of NB. Conversely, Lindor leaving Under Armour is a huge blow to a company that has seen a significant downtrend in financial results through the early portions of 2017.