Hip Hip Jorge!!! You made it through another year. Well, almost. And what a year it was! 1968 just woke up and looked at 2016 and went, "Daaaaaaamn." But alas, we're all here, we made it, and I truly hope you and your loved ones are safe, happy, and healthy as we plunder towards another holiday season. I wrote a baseball-themed gift guide a few years ago and received some very nice feedback on the internet, so I figured I'd do another one. Not all of these gifts will satisfy the baseball-lover on your list, but they'll at least let them know you don't hate them. And if there's one thing we oughta make an even feeble effort at this holiday season, letting someone know you don't hate them seems worthwhile. C'mon, we got this! So without further ado, here's 12 days worth of holiday love for the one person on your list who reads "war" as "WAR". Viva Holiday Love!
1) Let's just get this one outta the way first. Truth is, it's not baseball related at all. But it is Christmas movie related and, well, why the hell not. These are "Christmas Vacation" themed toys. Clark Griswold Figure I mean, call them toys, call them figurines, call them whatever you want to, but buy one because they're funny! That's a Clark Griswold action figure, for crying out loud. Someone you know loves that film, and that someone needs a portable Griswold. Or this site, Christmas Vacation Collectibles where you can order one of Cousin Eddie's infamous dickies or a set of your very own moose mugs. Vacation-themed gifts! If I woke up tomorrow with my head sewn to the carpet, I wouldn't be more surprised than I am now!
2) Ooooooh, Nokona. You know the name. They've been making beautiful, high-end, amazing, incredible, awesome, life-long-lasting ball mitts for a zillion years. More than a few of them are still made in their factory in Nokona, Texas. Everybody knows the name and the quality. You really don't need a reason to splurge for a Nokona mitt, but if you did, the holidays are the right reason. They're a real work of art and meant to last a lifetime. Nokonas aren't really something you "own", as much as they're something you're "breaking in" for the next generation. They're beauts, they're pricey, and they're worth it. But if you can't go there, financially, for a mitt, here's the next best thing. Anything from their line of apparel. I'm partial to this navy blue lid, but feel free to peruse the site and order whatever you think your favorite ball fan will wear with the most pride. Nothin' else like Nokona. Texas. Baseball. Cool.
3) This one is simple. I can think of few things more enjoyable than hanging out with a fellow fun-loving fan and simply ripping into 24 packs of baseball cards. Seems like a really kickin' way to spend some time laughing and chatting about a shared passion. Here's them classics (...thankfully, calcified "chewing" gum, no longer included): Topps 2016. 24-packs, for 32 bucks and some change. Have at it. I hope you get Hollywood, Rougie and Belts.
4) Craig Robinson (no, not that one) is a very talented man. He's a graphic designer and he loves baseball. And he basically makes super cool baseball-themed art that you can afford. Here is an awesome Joy Division-esque shirt (you can buy it as print art as well) called "Between the Poles" that depicts the exact outfield dimensions of all 30 clubs' home fields, in alphabetical order from top to bottom. It is fantastic. Here's a beauty of a piece called "Texas Rings" which frames the history of your favorite team as though it were the inner rings of a tree, with grey representing playoff-less years and the darker the colors become, the farther the team made it in the post-season. Subtle, and I love it. This one's called "Benches Cleared" and, well, you already know. Perhaps ideal gifts for the person on your list who commonly quotes extrapolated runs and win shares.
5) I like offbeat people. Folks who wanna make something, so they make it. Odin Clack is one of those dudes. I saw his stuff on a news story and sought him out and went to meet the man himself. He's a big, affable, charming Aggie and he's turning his passion for leather craftsmanship into more than just a hobby. Please look over his whole site and know everything's lovingly made by hand in his Coppell garage. He first caught my eye thanks to his "Sandlot Collection". When I asked him, he said he originally ordered some baseball glove leather in hopes of making stuff out of it, but was left wanting with the unboken-in feel of the hides. So he sought out used, beat up gloves, and next thing you know, kick ass wallets and other accessories were born. I told him he'd be on this list, and it seems he's looking forward to turning more old gloves into really cool, daily reminders of the game you so dearly love. Odin Leather Goods "Sandlot Collection"
6) So Wednesday, November 30th, we're supposed to get our first look at the new gear for our High-A affiliate, the Down East Wood Ducks. I mean, technically, that would make the whole team DEWDs, and HOT DAMN wouldn't that just be the best! Anyway, I have no idea if they're gonna meet this deadline or not, but I do know your minor league loving fan would love being the first one on the block with DEWD gear. It'll be available here: Down East Wood Ducks Official Site. Unsurprisingly, Frisco is completely on the ball with your holiday needs and is offering a ridiculous 10-game ticket package (and a couple of free gifts) for $99. 2 tickets to 10 different games...for a hundred bucks! I absolutely love minor league baseball. And as the saying goes: "Nobody ever gets old and says "I wish I'd have gone to fewer ball games with my friends and family."
7) Welp, here's at least one childhood dream I can now scratch off my bucket list. YOU CAN PUT YOUR OWN PICTURE ON A PACK OF BIG LEAGUE CHEW! Honestly, there's only a handful of good reasons why you shouldn't do this. (Including if you currently have braces, in which case sucks to be you, but something to look forward to!) This is hilarious and awesome and...yes! My Big League Chew And while your at it, might as well order a box of Bubble Tape too.
(Yes, I realize how irresponsible this suggestion is. It's almost exclusively for the Over-30 crowd. If you have a young person around, do not encourage them to do anything that remotely resembles chewing tobacco. Tell them the truth: it's gross, and it will kill them. The End.)
8) I can't very well fully articulate why I love the "Three Strikes- Flamethrower" bat from the Pillbox Bat Co., but I do. I love it. I just think it's gorgeous and sure to be a conversation starter and a way to tell anyone who walks by your cubicle that a) you like baseball and b) if that damn printer acts up one more time, they need only cue up the Geto Boys on the breakroom's bluetooth speaker...and you'll take care of the rest.
9) I'm buying myself these Ranger red Adidas Gazelles before next baseball season. Or, if you're reading this, and we're spending Christmas together, I'm an 11.5.
10) The Mitchell Bat Co. is a very cool company that makes and sells very cool stuff. They even sell this "Big Tex" shirt that I'm not sure I fully understand, but hey, he's got a baseball bat! But that's not what I'm eyeing from the fine folks at Mitchell this year. I'm more interested in this seckseee collaboration with the also fine folks at Ebbets Flannels. This hat is a beauty, and ain't nobody you know gonna be wearin' the same lid as you. And, you don't need to keep your keys on a carabiner to wear this sweet chapeau.
11) As I mentioned earlier, we've had a helluva year. I mean, Prince AND Bowie? Damn, man. Also, there was an election. It's true. I read about it on Facebook. Things got pretty dodgy and peeps who've loved each other for years may or may not have said some things to each other that were not so loving. So with the holidays upon us, I thought I'd look high and low for baseball-themed peace-pipes for you and that special someone who punched the other side of the ballot. Found this great shot of the 1926 Republican Baseball team. I mean they've got elephants on their jerseys...and THEY'RE RIDING AN ELEPHANT INTO THE BALLPARK! This is from a game that's gone on between the Repubs and the Dems nearly every year since 1909 and stop me if you've heard this one before, in 2016 the GOP ended a nearly 8-year run of victories by the Democrats. It's not a big print, only 5x7, so buy one, and get a nice desk frame that leans a little to the right, and give it to your favorite GOPer. As for you GOPers, you stubborn prideful packyderms; you still love your left-leaning baseball fan, and you know it. I've got the gift. It's subtle, but they'll get it, and they'll appreciate your humor, and more importantly your shared bond in the game you both love. Here it is. Peace be with you.
12) That brings me to my final suggestion. It'll always be the same. Give. That's it. It's the holidays and frankly, nothing on this list is necessary. Nothing I've written about or linked to is gonna alter your life or anyone's around you. But giving can. I'm an optimist, so I still believe in our ability to help others. The Dallas Morning News, on Monday, had a story claiming Texas ranked 48th for philanthropy and volunteering? Oh man, that's not the Texas I know and that's not the Texas I wanna be a part of. On a local level, here's pages and pages of non-profits that could use your help. Here's the Miracle League of Frisco. They need Buddy volunteers and donations. There's no shortage of ways you can help our soldiers too, if you're so inclined, and thankfully, Charity Navigator has a ranking system to help us figure our which organizations actually do what they say they will. Their site is incredibly helpful. Regardless of your cause, find one and help. Better yet, find something important to someone you love, and help there. Truth is, I'd be happy to tear into a wrapped box and find any one of the gifts I've listed above, but if I opened up the box and found a small, framed receipt saying a donation had been made in my name to the Jackie Robinson Foundation, well, I'd probably just start crying and tell you I love you. And I'd mean it.
Hope something on this list helps, and I hope you all have a wonderful holiday season.
As Always, Enjoy Baseball!