Wong's glove, cleats make fashion statement
Bright colors on equipment highlight second baseman's accomplishments, style
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- When Kolten Wong needs a reminder of what he’s accomplished, all he has to do is glance at his glove.
Where once there was the standard red Rawlings patch, Wong now has a gold patch. In the Florida sun of Spring Training, it glistens, and it can catch your eye when the light hits it. Only Gold Glove Award winners can have that on their gloves and gear, so Wong -- the National League Gold Glove Award winner at second base -- earned it.
The gold is not the only thing different about Wong’s new glove, which he debuted this spring. The red from previous years remained the same, but Wong incorporated the Cardinals’ “victory blue” alternate jerseys by having the powder blue color added to the web of the glove.
The welting and the trim lining the glove are now a metallic gold, different from last year’s grey. And across the thumb is “Hawaiian Style” in gold lettering, paying homage to where Wong is from. At the base of his thumb is “16,” Wong’s number, which used to be in black. This year? It's in gold.
Wong called last year’s glove “pre-Gold.” This year’s is called “blood, sweat and tears.”
“I wanted to look at it and know that it was my last year without a gold patch,” Wong said. “And designing this year’s, I thought, ‘Man, a lot of blood, sweat and tears went into this glove. I could use that.’ I knew I wanted to go powder blue, and everything just kind of fell together on this glove.”
According to Statcast, Wong’s 10 Outs Above Average ranked 20th in all of baseball and second to Adam Frazier among second basemen last season. Wong beat Frazier and Ozzie Albies for the NL Gold Glove Award at second base, and he was one of six Cardinals to be nominated for the award in 2019; the others were pitcher Jack Flaherty, catcher Yadier Molina, first baseman Paul Goldschmidt, shortstop Paul DeJong and center fielder Harrison Bader.
Wong is eyeing 2020 as a back-to-back Gold Glove year, but he’s also looking to continue his offensive breakthrough from last season, when he hit .285 and led the team with his .361 on-base percentage. He found his identity as a hitter, combined it with his elite defense and led the team with his 4.7 WAR, per Baseball-Reference.
“Just understanding that I didn’t need to go out there and try to do too much, me playing my game and bunting, and hitting the ball to the left side and doing what I've got to do to get our team in situations to score,” Wong said. “That’s my game, and the defense is me. I think that’s where it started to carry over, when I stopped trying to be that hero, started trying to contribute to the team. That’s when my hitting had the uptick it had.”
Wong’s flair in his uniform -- his glove flashes some color on the Cardinals' infield, and he recently debuted yellow cleats that match the bat on the Cardinals’ jersey -- matches the flair seen in his game, with all those highlight-reel plays he makes at second base.
In addition to showing off his style and personality, Wong is hoping his pieces of flair will also attract attention from young kids who have yet to take an interest in baseball.
“For me, this is some of the best times of my life playing this game," Wong said. "This is kind of me just showing the kids, like, ‘Hey, I’m still having fun.’ I got my yellow shoes. I got my baby blue glove. I’m going to have fun out there and bring a little style to the game.
“I tell you, in St. Louis, we’re always kind of sticking to tradition, but there’s kids in St. Louis, too. And I want to show them that you can have fun, you can use these crazy colors and just enjoy playing the game.”