When you take the field each day, you may be thinking about the starting pitcher’s fastball, the wind direction in the outfield, or the firmness of the infield dirt, but you’re probably not thinking about the little bit of history you’re wearing in the form of your softball cleats. At Ringor, we’ve been making cleats since 1983 – which in the world of softball and baseball, certainly seems like a long time. However, according to Lucia Raatma’s The Curious, Captivating, Unusual History of Sports, athletes have been using cleats to improve traction since the 1500s. That’s right, only shortly after Columbus sailed the ocean blue, and 300 years before the first softball game, athletes invented a way to get better grip on slippery grass and dirt.
The first cleats were likely football (soccer) boots (shoes) and the book Now You Know Soccer, cites a 1526 letter from King Henry VIII, requesting a pair of cleats be made for him at the modern day price of about $200. They must’ve been golden spikes! In the mid 1800s, hardened rubber was introduced to cleat design to help protect athletes feet from the ground and other players. Then in the 1890s studs were finally added to the soles of the shoes – just in time for the first games of softball.
Since then, cleats, especially softball cleats have come a long way. For most of the past century, softball cleats have been exclusively made with a leather upper and rubber sole and/or rubber studs. Today, we’ve added Neoprene tongues, anti-odor liners, Ethylene-vinyl acetate (EVA) midsoles, and lightweight plastic or metal spikes – turning softball cleats into a work of modern technology, and ensuring your softball cleats continue to perform to meet your needs on the field. From our RING-GRIP Cleat Pattern to future innovations (some which will be coming sooner than you think) we’re dedicated to driving new technologies to improve softball cleat design and your game.
So next time you lace up and step onto the field, remember that there is 500 years of history in your footwear and that we’re working every day to make your softball cleats better..