Chula Vista resident designs shoes for Padres Fantasy Camp

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SAN DIEGO — The San Diego Padres have made Fantasy Camp an annual tradition, and the fun, camaraderie and swag keep them coming back.

Bonita resident Frank Chavez takes it a step further by helping campers customize their look.

“At first it started out as just wonderment,” Chavez said. “Wondering what it’s like to be in a major league clubhouse, what it’s like to be on a major league field and just go out and play baseball.”

Custom Kicks by Chavo

For Chavez, Padres Fantasy Camp quickly turned into so much more.

“You’ve got to become part of a family,” he said.

And Chavez wants his family to look good on the field.

“I’ve always wanted to be an artist, ever since I was little,” Chavez said.

The 53-year-old put that artistic passion into shoes.

“I had an art background so I thought, let me try it,” Chavez said. “So I grabbed a pair of shoes and just started doodling on them.”

Chavez first took his custom cleats to Fantasy Camp in 2022 and immediately got noticed.

“Heath Bell was the really the one that said, ‘hey, I need seven pairs of cleats because I’m gonna give them to the clubbies,’” Chavez said.

Hear earned the nickname of El Mágico — the magician — for his ability to transform the cleats.

“I will sit and I will stare at the shoe, Chavez said. “As I tell people, I will let the shoe talk to me.”

And Major League players like Yu Darvish, Victor Caratini and Emilio Pagan hit him up for shoes.

So for Troy Hirsch’s first Fantasy Camp, he wanted his shoes to talk to El Mágico.

“With yours, you’re gonna stick out like a sore thumb,” Chavez said. “I already know what I’m going to do and there’s going to be a couple of elements and you’re gonna say, OK, I get it.”

Chavez says he can finish a pair of cleats in about six to eight hours, and the cost starts at around $200.

And when he presents his shoes, the reactions are usually priceless.

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