If the shoe fits . . . Yankees' deal: There's footwear aplenty left if the O's want to sell their good name, too.

March 06, 1997

DEAR PETER ANGELOS:

Sorry to hear about George Steinbrenner ditching his fellow baseball team owners and cutting his own sweet deal with Adidas for $100 million. He didn't like the idea of the Yankees getting $100,000 or so if baseball signed a deal like one it considered last year with Nike and Reebok, so he sold his own license rights over 10 years to the highest bidder.

It's not surprising, really. After Jerry Jones did an end-run on other owners in the National Football League and signed with Nike as official outfitter for his rebellious Cowboys, it was inevitable an empire like the Yankees would look out for themselves eventually. Actually, we were rooting for Fila to win the Yanks' deal; we figure that would have obligated the American League pennant to fly over Baltimore a couple days a week since Fila Footwear USA is headquartered in Hunt Valley.

Mr. Angelos, we can understand if you're reluctant to plaster the team in corporate logos like some gaudy stock car chassis. You've been charmingly old-fashioned in this way, not posting distracting ads behind home plate like all those teams whose strike zones run from just above the batter's knees to just below the Golden Arches. We don't want the team to go crass, but it is popular enough to warrant its own shoe deal.

Forget about Bruno Maglis, though. The O's attracted enough scandal last summer. Docksiders might emphasize Maryland's sailing trade. The Orioles seem to draw a sizable female crowd, but pumps wouldn't work -- unless you plan to sign Dennis Rodman. High-top Doc Martens are hot with the teens, but the Yanks have Doc Gooden. Like the Os, Buster Browns are durable and timeless, but some wags will say Baltimore busted up the Browns already.

Good luck searching for a licensee, but based on some people's sense of the emotion level in the high-rent seats at Oriole Park, there may be only one fitting shoe for endorsement at Camden Yards: Hush Puppies.

Pub Date: 3/06/97

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