Last year, Boston Red Sox first baseman Triston Casas showed up to spring yraining rocking painted nails.
He was treated as something of a curiosity, with Boston Globe beat writer Julian McWilliams posting a picture of Casas’ red fingernails and white toenails and flippantly tweeting, “That’s my content for the day.”
Now in 2024, the Red Sox have filmed a nine-minute video feature spotlighting Casas getting his nails done at a salon, releasing it on their official YouTube channel.
What a difference a 24-homer season makes.
Now more fully established as a Major Leaguer, Casas comes off as contemplative in the video, and it’s clear he’s given a lot of thought into what painting his nails says about his self confidence and individuality.
“Not that everybody sees it as negative, but I get certain looks about it and people say certain things about it,” Casas shares in the video, mid-manicure, “There’s a stereotype about it and people call me this and that and say I’m this and that, but it’s so superficial and doesn’t change anything about me. It doesn’t change anything about the person that I am or what I bring to the table, the examples I set, the accountability I hold for myself.”
Given what we know about baseball culture, it’s not surprising that Casas has gotten some blowback — he later admitted he reads a lot of the talk about himself on social media.
But as he reflected to his manicurist, his confidence is so strong that he’s able to block out the noise about his image because he’ll never let comment-section warriors and gossipmongers change who he is as a person or a teammate.
It’s a remarkably mature understanding of the difference between an athlete’s public self and his full personality — especially for a 24-year-old coming off of his first full big league season.
Casas later provided an apt metaphor for how he views his public image.
“At the end of the day, this is just my video game character,” he says in the video.
That’s a video game character who is making baseball a more welcoming place for others who want to cultivate a sense of self outside of traditional masculine norms.
He also compared expressing his individuality through painted nails to the famously colorful Red Sox championship teams of the past like the iconic “Idiots” of 2004 who defeated the business attire New York Yankees on the way to the Red Sox’ first world championship in 86 years.
That group expressed their personalities through testosterone-laden looks like cowboy fashion and facial hair. Casas’ nails, meanwhile, show how individuality in baseball has taken on a more inclusive vibe in the two decades since.
Later in the conversation, Casas reveals that his look also has a charming origin story. He reflected on how he used to tag along with his mother when she went to the nail salon and used it as time to bond with her.
One day, the stylist asked Casas if he wanted a color treatment and he decided to get his toenails done in brown.
When he got home, his father pointed at his painted toes and asked, “Why do you have that on your feet?” It was like a disapproving dad from a 1980s after school special. His dad kept pressing, “The nail polish… what is that?”
Then as Casas awkwardly searched for a satisfactory answer, his dad brightened up and said, “No, no, no, I’m not talking about the color or the polish. Why don’t you have it on your hands too?”
With that confidence-boosting approval, Casas went back the next day and got his fingernails done. His father later revealed that he occasionally wore nail polish as well and later encouraged Casas to wear painted nails on the field for the 2023 season.
That could have been the alternate ending to “Field of Dreams” we didn’t know we needed.
Clearly, the Red Sox see Casas as one of the faces of their team for 2024. As part of that, they’re celebrating everything about who he is — especially his manicure stylings.
At the end of the video, Casas chose to do his nails in green. That should blend in with a certain Fenway Park wall as seamlessly as his sense of self expression is blending in with the Red Sox team culture.
Casas is part of a growing trend of conversations within sports about painting nails. Duke basketball star freshman Jared McCain paints his nails, and various NFL players have recently taken to X to share their thoughts — supportive or not — about the topic.