MIAMI — The best randomly weird story about this year’s MLB All-Star game is Zack Cozart getting a donkey from Cincinnati Reds teammate Joey Votto for making the team. And the tale got even more spectacular Tuesday.
Cozart, the starting shortstop for the NL squad, got yet another donkey gift from a teammate — this time a pair of sneakers from teammate Adam Duvall who had them customized to include Donkey from “Shrek” on the right toe and the phrase “Life is better with a donkey” on the left toe.
The shoes were created by Miami-based cleat-customization expert Soles By Sir, who works extensively with NFL players. Here they are, in all their donkey glory:
Cozart started to laugh inside the National League All-Star clubhouse at Marlins Park on Tuesday when asked about the shoes.
“I was like ‘Oh my God,’” Cozart said. “I thought it was cool that a teammate of mine would do something like that.”
“That’s dope,” Votto exclaimed when Yahoo Sports showed him a picture of the shoes. “Can’t believe I didn’t get them.”
Last year, Votto promised to buy Cozart a donkey if he made the All-Star team after hearing about Cozart taking his son to a donkey farm in Arizona. Cozart didn’t make the team then, but he did this year. And ever since it looked like Cozart had a chance to head to Miami — his first All-Star selection — the Year of the Donkey became a hilarious storyline surrounding the Reds.
Duvall reached out to Soles By Sir (real name: Marcus Rivero) on Saturday, asking about doing a quick-turnaround customization for Cozart. So immediately Rivero went to work looking for the right pair of Adidas Alpha Bounces to customize.
“It was a mission,” Rivero says. “Adidas had to call the equipment manager at the University of Miami, who met me Sunday at the stadium to give me the kicks.”
This request was a first, Rivero said. No athlete had ever asked to put a donkey on a pair of shoes.
“When I heard it, I literally laughed out loud with Adam,” Rivero says. “The first thing that hit me was the donkey from ‘Shrek.’ ”
The shoes arrived Tuesday at Cozart’s All-Star hotel. Well, after one small problem — Duvall sent them to the wrong Marriott hotel. Luckily, Duvall gave Cozart a head’s up to expect a present. So Duvall sent someone to retrieve the shoes and get them to Cozart.
“When Duvall said he had something coming for me, I thought what could he have sent me?” Cozart says. “I thought it was a bottle of wine or something.”
Nope. Donkey shoes.
They’re not cleats, so you won’t see them in Tuesday night’s All-Star game. But Cozart plans to wear them during Reds batting practice soon.
As for the donkey? That’s coming soon too.
“We have a 10-game homestead after the break,” Cozart says. “I’m pretty sure it’s going to show up during that homestand.”
Then he’ll have to figure out where to put the donkey. At least the shoes can just go in the closet.