JUPITER, Fla. -- Everybody wanted to be like Mike, and Marlins shortstop Miguel Rojas was no exception.
During the second game of the 2020 Major League Baseball season, Rojas scooped a grounder to short and raced to second base for the out. Seeing a sliding Bryce Harper fast approaching, he leapt over the Phillies' superstar and slung the ball over to first for the double play.
In that moment, "Miggy Ro" became "Air Rojas." His silhouette appeared as the baseball equivalent of Michael Jordan's Jumpman logo. As fate would have it, Rojas was wearing Jordan 1 cleats when he made the play.
"Everybody kind of said, 'Oh, it's got to be the shoe' and all that kind of stuff," Rojas said during a Zoom call. "You know they relate that jump with Michael Jordan."
It would be hard to find a higher compliment for Rojas, who owns a collection of 140 retro Jordan sneakers. Growing up in Venezuela, he wanted to be a basketball player. It remains his favorite sport to watch.
But his family -- like his country -- breathes baseball. The 32-year-old started playing basketball at the age of 10. He recalls being awed by the late Kobe Bryant, Allen Iverson and Kevin Garnett. Jordan retired the year Rojas began watching the sport.
"I was playing basketball every single day," Rojas said. "Baseball is really hard to play every single day because it's hard to find a full team, but in basketball, you can go to a pickup game, and you play every single day. So for me, that's when everything started, and then I always wanted to have every Michael Jordan shoe. As soon as I started getting a little bit more money and started doing good in the big leagues, I started my collection."
Last season when Rojas opened 7-for-10 with one double, one triple, one home run and five RBIs in the opening weekend, someone from Stadium Custom Kicks reached out about a collaboration. Up until that point, the seven-year MLB veteran had never designed a cleat. The creation of Miggy's Locker was the perfect outlet to showcase his personality as well as his passion for shoes and basketball. But then Rojas tested positive for COVID-19; the time away from the field did provide him and Stadium Custom Kicks a chance to create shoes.
The cleats that Rojas wore on the play that originated the nickname "Air Rojas" happened to be the pair he donned while turning the game-ending double play that clinched the Marlins' first postseason appearance in 17 years. Baseball players are superstitious, after all.
"If I don't do good with one pair of cleats, I don't care how they look, I'm going to put them away," Rojas said.
Here's a look at Rojas' 2020 collection:
"SOUTH BEACH SPLATTER" JORDAN 1 RETRO CLEATS
"The first shoe that we came out with has the picture of me jumping over the guy on the tongue of the shoe, and then a message inside that says, 'It's more important to be a good person before you can be a good player.' So that was really important for me to come out with that shoe and with that message. And the colors, people loved it."
"CACTUS MIGGY" JORDAN 1 RETRO CLEATS
In his return from the injured list on Aug. 21, Rojas wore these and homered in his first at-bat against Patrick Corbin. His three-run shot in the second inning would hold in Miami's 3-2 win over Washington at Nationals Park.
"I remember the first day when I hit a home run, I came back to the dugout and I pointed to the shoe that it gave me the power to hit a homer."
"SOFLO SUNSET" JORDAN 1 LOW SHOES
Rojas wore these for batting practice.
"MIAMI VICE" JORDAN 7 RETRO CLEATS
"The teal color with pink accents. We used the old Marlins color. I actually gave those away to a fan after the season was over, after the World Series."
“MIAMI SKYLINE" JORDAN 9 RETRO CLEATS
"We started working on the next pair because we needed to have some fire for the playoffs, and we did. We came out with a Jordan shoe with the Miami skyline with my favorite color blue."
What's to come?
In January, Stadium Custom Kicks called Rojas to brainstorm ideas for the 2021 season. The final look for each cleat will be based on a combination of elements -- from his favorite colors (blue and neon) to his interests.
"I want to show people what I'm all about," Rojas said. "I'm about family, I'm about my country, I'm about my son. I'm about playing poker in my free time, and that's the kind of things that I want to show off. People can see my personality off the field, not just on the field."
Below are the first two pairs that have been unveiled.
"CLASE AZULE" JORDAN 1 RETRO CLEATS
Inspired by a tequila bottle Rojas likes. He has been wearing them during Spring Training.
“OSAKA" JORDAN 1 RETRO CLEATS
Inspired by Rojas' love for seafood and an ode to Nike’s SB Dunk High Japan City Dotonbori Octopus kicks.