2/28 Finding the right fit
All Aaron Cunningham has to do is open his suitcase in the Cubs clubhouse, and the players come for his socks.
Cunningham is a non-roster invitee on the Cubs, but the outfielder is also a market manager for Strideline, which makes colorful and apparently very comfortable crew socks.
It all started a couple years ago when Cunningham saw the socks for sale during the holidays. He bought several pairs for family members, and decided to take it another step.
“I sent them an email, and said, ‘Hey, I like the product, I’m a professional athlete, I can help you spread the word with all the ballplayers,'” Cunningham said Friday. “They approved it and made me a market manager, and I started giving them out to guys and they started getting me involved, and now it’s a new company.”
What makes the socks unique is not that they were created by two college students but how good they feel and look. They designs include city skylines, such as Chicago, Miami, Los Angeles, Seattle, and San Francisco. There’s also are pairs featuring the state of Texas and the Brooklyn Bridge.
Cunningham, 27, has a patriotic red, white, and blue pair in his locker. Cubs pitcher Blake Parker likes a blue and white plaid that he wore Thursday in the first Cactus League game so much that he plans on wearing them every outing. That’s because Parker retired all three batters he faced.
On Friday, lefty Zac Rosscup purchased two pairs with the Chicago skyline as soon as Cunningham opened his suitcase with merchandise. They’re in Cubs colors, but fans most likely won’t see them because players wear their pants long and cover them up. However, there are some green, yellow and blue camouflage designs that guys could be wearing with street clothes which you might sneak a peek at.
“I’ll come in here with 100 socks and they’ll be gone in one day,” Cunningham said.
The positive feedback is helping sales. Cunningham, who has worked with Strideline at AAU baseball tournaments, selling 300 pairs in a weekend, has sent sample pairs to other Major League teams in hopes that they’ll be interested. Cubs clubhouse manager Tom Hellmann plans on stocking up on them. Who knows? Cunningham’s first goal is to make the Cubs. Someday, he may be doing more than just distributing pairs in the Cubs clubhouse.
“Baseball doesn’t last forever,” Cunningham said.
— Carrie Muskat