After a five-year hiatus, Nike has brought back the Air Griffey Max 1 in a host of original color schemes. The brand isn’t stopping there in honoring Ken Griffey Jr., as a new Air Force 1 will commemorate both him and his father, who was also an MLB outfielder and teammate with his son for one season.
The left and right shoe are dedicated to Jr. and Sr. respectively, with the suffixes appearing atop the Swoosh on the mustaches and on the insoles. Their numbers, 24 and 30, also appear on the lateral side of the heel, while the tongue lining is mismatched with blue on the left and yellow and the right. Red stitching on the heel mimics that of a baseball, cementing the Air Force 1’s connection to America’s pastime.
Baseball doesn’t get a whole lot of love from Nike, and you don’t need to be super engaged with the sport to appreciate the Griffey AF1s. Griffey Jr. had the sauce to transcend the sport, and it’s heartwarming to bring his father into the mix, too.
A rare sneaker icon from baseball — Griffey Jr. came into the league as the number one pick and would end his career as a Hall of Famer with 13 All-Star appearances, 10 Gold Gloves, and the AL MVP award in 1997. But beyond delivering beyond his potential with his play, he also carried himself with a swagger and charisma to make him one of the most popular players in the game.
Nike chose Griffey Jr. to follow Bo Jackson and Deion Sanders, who both played baseball and football professionally, as the face of cross-training line. When it came time to design his signature shoe, Griffey Jr. had one simple instruction for the designer: “Just make it loud.”
“At that time, I wanted to be different than everyone else,” Griffey Jr. told Sole Collector in a 2009 interview. “I think that was the one thing I wanted. A big ol’ Swoosh on there, too, and I wanted a strap. I think I was really adamant about the strap.”
Griffey Jr.’s desire for boldness would pay off, as the Air Griffey Max 1 became something of a sleeper hit at the beginning. Later on, it would take on a more iconic status for sneakerheads — standing out more than any of his subsequent sneakers. LeBron James even paid homage to the original “Fresh Water” color scheme with a pair of his limited-edition #LeBronWatch sneakers in 2018.
When does the AF1 join the mix — The Griffey Jr. and Sr. Air Max 1 doesn’t yet have a release date, but should be dropping relatively soon considering the timing of its image leaks. In the meantime, the Air Griffey Max 1 “Royal” is slated to release this week — and an Air Vapormax that commemorates Jr.’s iconic “Spider-Man catch” is also on the way.