If you know me in Real Life, you know that I have A Thing for shoes. I love shoes, and I have a lot of them. Usually, my shoes tend toward the higher end of the heel range. I mean, I have flats and tennis shoes, of course, because sometimes you have to prioritize mobility but usually what I wear looks more like this:
I’m always looking for a new pair of shoes to add to my Wall of Shoes, so imagine my delight when I found out that I will need not one, but two pairs of shoes in order to be an umpire. WHOO! SHOES!
Unfortunately, it turns out that neither pair of shoes I need is all that cute. Base shoes are basically black trainers with a little more grip on the bottom. They are less “WHOO” and more “…oh.”
And plate shoes are the ones that you wear behind home plate so your toes don’t get broken when a foul tip whacks you in the foot. They look like those oversized mary janes girls wore in the 90s with their flannel dresses and tights, only uglier. Bleh.
If you’ve been following along in my adventures so far, you will be completely stunned to find out that they don’t make umpire shoes for women.
I KNOW! I was shocked, too.(1)
But it gets better — not only do they not make umpire shoes for women, but New Balance, the primary and preferred brand(2) that makes umpire shoes, doesn’t make them in sizes smaller than a men’s 7. I have average feet for a woman–size 8–which translates to a men’s size 6.5.
Meaning that New Balance doesn’t make umpire shoes that will fit a significant number of women who may want to umpire, including me. I’m beginning to sense a theme, here.
So, once again, I’ve been obliged to lay out a bunch of money upfront to buy a bunch of shoes that may or may not work. And if they aren’t, for example, available on Zappos (which they aren’t), I have to pay for shipping for something that might not work out.(3) I’m just burning money here.
I understand that there’s not a huge market in umpire clothes and shoes for women. I’ve been a woman in a capitalist society my entire life, and I get that clothing manufacturers go for the largest market to make the most money. I’m not blind to the rationale for this lack of accommodation. I’m annoyed by it, though, and if I’m prevented from getting appropriate protective gear because I can’t find any that fits me, I’m going to be angry.
2. There are a few other brands out there, but they aren’t reviewed as well as New Balance, and they aren’t as widely available.
3. Just like I did to find out what size I am in the umpire uniform.