The holidays are pretty fun. Not as fun as they were when you were a kid and your emotions were measured in def cons, but still, a good time to be had. Shopping, however, generally sucks. Nothing you can really do about it. Gotta get it done and hitting the malls and strip centers for another unwrapped tchotchke is very few folks' definition of a good time. Having said that, I set out on a task to find 10 gifts I thought would be considerate additions to the lives of baseball-loving folks like yourself and your crew. So without further ado, lets get to givin'!
1. Everybody who knows me and many who don't can tell you I wish (for men only) flip flops had a radius clause. Meaning, once you step 50 yards away from a significant body of water, or your own home, your flip flops self-detonate and disappear into the aether. Ballparks are big gross dens of sweat and funky bacteria, and if you think exposing your bare feet to that is a good idea, well, then okey dokey. For the remaining cast of dignified men, proper footwear involves covered toes and respectability. Sneakers remain a stalwart of the under-50 set, and I certainly don't think you should wear the same sneaks as the fella next to you. Here's a couple of my fave on-line spots for unique sneaks that you can buy in your favorite teams' favorite colors. Perhaps red, white, and blue. Perhaps.
I've been in the Flight Club on Broadway and my head almost exploded. Have fun at this sneaker mecca.
There's lots of sweet boutique sneaker shops, so search the web. I've had luck with Sportie LA a few times (and they have free shipping over $75), so give them a looksie: west coast kicks.
Gotta give a plug to the great localites in Mockingbird Station. Centre is super fun and has been the premier spot for cool wheels for lots of folks around here for a while. If you're the type who likes to feel 'em, touch 'em, and try 'em on, swing by the store. Shop Local!
2. I like Parks and Rec. I like Nick Offerman. For a few years, Nick Offerman has quietly operated one of the coolest side projects of any person in Hollywood, the Offerman Wood Shop. He likes baseball. He likes pipes. You'll like this hat: Ron Swanson Rules!
3. The fine folks at Ebbets Field Flannels are remarkably talented and dedicated people who are simultaneously preserving and re-introducing lots of teams, logos, and techniques long forgotten in sports. This 1950 Dallas Eagles road jersey is bad ass. It's hand stiched and historically dead-on. It's also expensive. It's $195. But if you're only gonna get one gift for your baseball-loving bud, this might be it. Even if it's out of your pay grade (it's out of mine), no worries. Check out some of the rest of the beautiful remakes of baseball mojo from the past. T-shirts are affordable and so are most of the hats. Not a huge selection of local stuff, but there's a couple Ft. Worth Cats items to go along with 3 jerseys from Dallas teams gone by. My goodness this jersey is awesome: The only Eagles jersey I endorse.
4. I like beer. Beer's cool. I like tailgating. Tailgating is cool. I also like Crown. Crown and Coke is cool, so is Jack and Coke for that matter. You need a flask. You're a real live grown up now, so you need a pewter flask, not the cheap stainless steel ones that make your drink taste like you're licking the underside of an old tin roof. Kaufmann Mercantile curates a really great collection of stuff and this pewter flask might become a family heirloom. Also, flasks have been smuggled into baseball stadiums since baseball teams began using baseballs. 4oz. or 6oz.
5. You didn't think I'd go an entire article without mentioning the minor leagues did you? Over the last decade, as most of you know, MiLB has become ground zero for creative marketing and unique uniforms. Frisco has all new swag coming, and High Desert's website hasn't been updated since August, so we'll have to put a hold on them for the moment. Round Rock still has outstanding stuff and everyone loves the Hickory Crawdads. But for me, the undisputed and reigning champ of the Texas system remains the Spokane Indians. If you have someone on your list who listens to anything I say, even if it's just to ridicule and mock me unsparingly, that person will almost certainly appreciate any gift bought from this website.
6. Following baseball these days is expensive. All the good stuff is hidden behind paywalls. Well, all the good stuff except the daily brilliance that is Lone Star Ball, and frankly we should probably be charging an arm and a leg for anything Ben writes, so a good baseball gift is one that gives all year long. Baseball America is $66, and Baseball Prospectus is $40 for a premium subscription. Both sites kick ass and have been running the game for a long, long time. Sign up, foot the bill, then give your baseball-loving buddy the password. And if you need your information to be more Rangers-centric, grab a copy of my dude Jamey Newberg's 2015 bound edition. I know you prolly don't wanna read all the reports capturing the abysmal abomination that was the 2014 season, but there's a boatload of prospect stuff in there, and whoa, a super-sexy cover shot. Information, a great gift indeed.
7. I'm not terribly familiar with the Huntington Base Ball Co. I'm also not very cool, but I do know what cool looks like, and this hand-pulled silkscreen print is cool. Run out and grab a frame, and you'll be cool for giving this to your favorite baseball fan. It's also a really great way to judge people. "Why don't you like pepper?", unintentionally tells me we might not be traveling on the same wavelength.
8. Ebay. Sounds obvious, right? Well, there's a zillion sneaky-fun gifts on the trusty ol' electronic commerce site just waiting for you right now. Don't believe me? Type "Texas Rangers pennant" into the search engine, make sure your PayPal account has at least $15 in it, and buy some sweet wall deco for your favorite fan.
9. Warstic sounds scary, but that's probably by design. It's a baseball bat company based in Dallas, and boy howdy, do they ever make some gorgeous sticks. Founded by Ben Jenkins, a former Mississippi State ballplayer who spent a year in the minors for the Phillies, the company is a passion project. His main job is running One Fast Buffalo, a branding firm he created that looks straight out of the pages of Fast Company. Whatever prompted him to do it, I'm glad he did. These are amazing sticks and they make beautiful decorations. I'm a fan of The Old 1930 and the Vintage Model 1. They're definitely for the mature fan who wants pretty lumber to remind him or her of the game they love and to signal passers by who might have the same passion. At the lower end of the cash register you'll (unsurprisingly- the dude is in "branding"!) find a really sweet lid that will likely start some cool conversations all by itself. Beautiful lumber, made in Dallas? Yes, please.
10. Give. Best advice I've ever gotten in my life came from my former boss, and rabid Rangers fan, David Gamble. He just said "Give". Find a charity that means something to you or someone special in your life and make a donation in their name. Simple. If we're honest, we all have enough stuff. Everything on this list is excessive, except this. As the son of a proud U.S. Marine, I'll be donating here in my father's name. Find your own organization, one that means something to you and your recipient, and give.
So there's 10 tips that will hopefully help with the baseball lover on your list. Remember, the best thing about the holidays is that Winter's half over. The fellas will be lacing up their spikes and trotting back onto the diamonds before you know it. In the meantime, get the gift buying out of the way and get down to the real point; enjoying the company and warmth of the people who know and love you the most. Be well everybody, and Happy Holidays!
As always, enjoy baseball! Love Ya!