Today I would like you to meet a teenager who hopes and prays that his physical therapy regime will allow him to return to baseball. His story starts with a bad case of turf toe in both feet, and the realization that he needed a pair of size 12 cleats instead of the size 14 he had been wearing. I met this particular young man on Twitter after he sent me a DM asking for fitting help because he had recently received a pair of New Balance cleats for Christmas. While I’d love to pretend that I can instantly tell whether footwear fits, there are times when that’s not possible so I gave him my number and asked if he could call. I was almost in tears when I heard that he had blown out his left ankle while wearing the too long and overly wide cleats. He was stoic about the recovery process, incredibly so as I listened to what he does as part of his rehabilitation. I don’t know if you can feel determination in the voice of another, but if dedication and perseverance are what he needs to get back to baseball, he will undoubtedly return.
We went back and forth about the New Balance cleats he now wears. I sent him some pictures I had found of cleats that I thought might work well for him, but he ended up sticking with the pair he had received as a gift. Being a so called expert is a funny thing. People call, text, or DM me in order to hear what I have to say, and invariably I end up learning from them. Turf toe is essentially a sprain, and if your foot bends in a place other than where your shoe bends, you can give yourself this type of an injury simply by wearing shoes that are the wrong size. I can’t say for sure whether shoes that fit could have prevented turf toe development in either of his feet, or the injury that required him to have reconstructive surgery on his still growing ankle, because I can envision scenarios where both things could occur while wearing shoes that fit, but I do know that my life is better because somewhere out there a player I’ve not met in real life now wears cleats that fit.