Red Sox pitcher Joe Kelly views his prescription eyewear just as he does any other piece of fashion, whether on the field or off it. “I like switching it up some,” he told SI.com. “Kind of like outfits, you have to have a fashion-forward pair of eyewear. If you have to wear glasses, show it.”
Known for his prescription eyewear since getting drafted out of college, Kelly likes it that way. Instead of sticking with a particular brand and one pair of frames, Kelly has teamed with California-based SportRX to “keep it fresh” and build his image as the fashionably spectacled pitcher.
“Everyone goes with one brand, but what I found with SportRX is you don’t have to stick with one model,” he says. “You can go online and pick out different models, you don’t have to be with just one brand. I like having the luxury and ability to pick what I think goes great on my face and not being limited.”
Of course, Kelly admits his wife is behind about 70 percent of all eyewear decisions. “It is always that way with my clothes,” he says. “She has more time to look online and see what is trending and know what’s hot and what’s not.” Of course, Kelly will trump her style choice if he feels superstition needs to reign supreme. “Baseball players, we are so superstitious,” he says. “If I lose, I will try to wear a different frame or a different color, but if I go on a winning streak, I keep it going as long as I can.”
Most recently Kelly has rotated between the same Oakley Fast Jacket XL frame, but in different colors, even if black is his go-to look. He uses clear lenses for when he’s pitching, but he has other pairs with different colored lenses for everyday activities on the field, night games and more, such as a pair of red frames with orange iridium lenses.
“Joe is not limited,” SportRX vice president Rob Tavakoli told SI.com. “He is able to get any frame and any lens combination from any brand. He’s not tied to a single brand, technology or style.”
Tavakoli says the optic team at SportRX works with athletes—from pros to amateurs—to create specific frame and lens configurations for prescriptions and detailed sports conditions so that they can “help people see better while doing what they love.”
For Kelly, the need to eliminate vision as a performance barrier has turned into not only a fashion statement, but also a part of his game. Guys ask him all the time what he thinks of them getting glasses and he always encourages it. “I tell them once you get used to them it is something you don’t even notice on your face,” he says. And while many in the game wear contacts or have gotten Lasik surgery—Kelly is a self-professed “baby” who is scared-off by Lasik. “Living in California, you never know when an earthquake is going to hit and what if in that 30 seconds (during the procedure) that earthquake hits and I go blind?” he asks. But he doesn’t hesitate to recommend glasses as an accessory.
While Kelly rocks his California style on the field, he says his SportRX partnership extends off it too, with Ray-Bans, mirrored lenses and plenty more.
Tavakoli says the glasses are a permanent fixture in Kelly’s wardrobe. “His eyewear is a big part of his image and identity and we love that about him,” Tavakoli says. “He even has the cool hair to go with it. He switches up styles, but you can usually find him in some hipster-esque frames like the Smith Quinlan.”
For Kelly, switching frames and lenses represents something he enjoys, just as other athletes love picking out hats or sneakers. “They are an accessory and part of you and your style,” he says. “You can look business-y, have a pair that looks like you just got home from the beach. It is fun. I love being with a company that gives me the privilege to mix and match with everyday life and professional sports.”
Tim Newcomb covers sports aesthetics—stadiums to sneakers—and training for Sports Illustrated. Follow him on Twitter at @tdnewcomb.