As some of the best high school players across the country entered the San Diego hotel housing the Perfect Game All-American Classic, they maneuvered through the customary introductions, paperwork and signing in. But after handling the particulars and taking the ride up the elevator and walk down the hall, that's when the excitement for the players really started to pick up. Walking into a room and seeing your bed swamped with fresh Nike gear will do that.
Whether three Nike Trout 4 cleats nuzzled against the pillows or the yet-unreleased Flux lifestyle gear, the wealth of product ranged from practice gear to equipment.
Will Banfield and Blaze Alexander, roommates for the four-day event, enjoyed the experience together. "Oh my gosh, these are clean," says Banfield upon picking up a pair of Trout cleats. "I don't want to wear them, I want to keep them (spotless)."
But as Banfield, of Georgia, was still flipping the cleats over and over in his hands, he turned to see Alexander, of Florida, donning a pair of Nike Hyperforce sunglasses. "See these glasses?" Alexander asks his new teammate. "These are nasty."
But quickly the two have moved on, with Alexander gravitating toward the "clean" Trout turf shoes and Banfield digging through a backpack full of extra training gear that didn't even fit across the bed. "I don't even have to go back-to-school shopping," he says. "This is sick."
The three Trout 4 cleats offered to each player came in the yellow and white All-Star Mahi Mahi colorway--only worn so far by Trout--meant for Perfect Game practice, a black and white turf version and a white and chrome cleat for the game. Banfield says he enjoyed the Mahi Mahi version so much he was scared to get them dirty at practice. Alexander switched out of his sneakers quickly in order to get the turf shoes on right away. "These will look good on and off the field," he says.
Another Perfect Game All American, Bryce Bush of Michigan, locked on to the chrome immediately, his otherwise quiet demeanor brightening significantly upon seeing them. "These!" Bush exclaims when checking out the chrome Trouts. "I like it."
"That's a lot of stuff, I need to make sure there is nothing else in here," Bush says looking through the backpack. "So far this is the most gear (ever received at an event)."
When the 50-plus athletes walked into their rooms they each had a variety of gear to take in. All at once. From the practice uniforms to gloves, shorts, the Flux collection, a Perfect Game cap, the Trout gear and plenty more. Each player had something different that caught their attention first.
What did Bush enjoy most? "Probably everything."
After taking in all the gear, the players checked their hotel voicemail to find a message from Trout himself welcoming them to the game. A Perfect Game veteran himself, the players were surprised by the message.
When it came down to the gear, Banfield summed up the dichotomy of thoughts of many of the players best with his contradicting statements: "I can't wait to wear this stuff," he says, followed up with, "I want to keep it on display."
Tim Newcomb covers gear and business for Baseball America. Follow him on Twitter at @tdnewcomb.