Earlier this year New Balance announced that it wrestled the MLB umpire footwear contract away from Reebok. New Balance supplied plate shoes to MLB umpires during 2011, and are gearing up to introduce a new umpire plate shoe, the MU460, available next month. The MU450 plate shoe is being discontinued.
So why in the world is Midwest Ump doing a review of the MU450?
Can you say “CLEARANCE SALE?” Late fall is the perfect time to purchase umpire gear at a discount.
The New Balance MU450MK umpire plate shoe is a terrific shoe. It has a leather upper which takes a shine very well. There is a tragic flaw with this shoe: the universally despised “N” logo on the side. Some umpires black this logo out with paint or shoe polish. To its credit New Balance offers a blacked out version with the new MU460 umpire plate shoe, so the company is listening to its customers.
The metatarsal plate is steel, as is the toe box. Some umpire plate shoes use a composite material that may or may not hold up under impact. You can be assured that the New Balance will protect your feet.
The sole of the MU450 is not cleated, but it has what New Balance calls a “multi-direction traction sole.” Like my sister used to say back in 1984, “Whateva.” That just means that the sole will not cake up with mud.
Fit / Comfort
The fit for the 450 runs a little small in length and width. Usually going up a half size creates a good fit. Plate shoes will conform to your feet somewhat, but it will not expand like other tennis shoes because of the steel reinforcements. The 450 is offered in D, EE, and EEE widths, and up to a size 14.
The New Balance MU450 is made with Abzorb in the heel and forefoot provides shock absorption and cushioning. Abzorb is “a blend of Dupont™ Engage® and Isoprene rubber.” It is a very comfortable shoe and fits like a sneaker.
The New Balance is also fairly light weight at 27 ounces each. The Reebok Field Magistrate is 25.5 ounces each and the new MU460 is reported to be around 25 ounces.
Since this shoe is being discontinued, there are some opportunities for good bargains. The MSRP on this shoe is $109.00. Currently you can purchase the MU450 for considerably less:
Lester’s Upstate Sports - $85 on sale
Ump-Attire - $99.99
Fair or Foul?
The New Balance MU450MK have been an umpire standard for many years at all levels. Here’s a picture of MLB umpire Jim Wolf rockin’ a pair.
The 450s are comfortable and light; they offer amazing protection; and once you take a deep cleansing breath, they are not bad looking. Now they are available at a considerable discount, which is far cheaper than the Reebok Field Magistrates or the New Balance MU460s. I call that kind of deal FAIR!