Christmas Stocking Stuffer Ideas for Baseball/Softball People
You can't really give a baseball or softball bat as a Christmas present and have it be a surprise. It's like buying clothes. It has to fit right. It's a personal object that becomes an extension of the player's body. It has to have the right weight and dimensions. The player needs to try it out first: this bat, yes. That bat, no.
However, you can't go wrong with a fungo bat. A fungo bat is simply a skinny lightweight baseball bat that is used for practice. It's lighter than a normal bat so a coach can hit balls for a long time without getting sore arms.
It's used for hitting grounders and pop flies. It's a coach's tool but it's handy for players to have around for some backyard practice.
The bat in the photo was actually a Christmas gift my wife got me when I started coaching Little League. It's from Wagner Bats in Appleton, Wisconsin. You can choose different colors for the barrel and handle and have three lines of text printed on the barrel at no extra charge.
I have a lot of good memories with that fungo bat and it still looks handsome after hitting thousands of grounders.
An autographed ball from a professional player is a cool gift and some are not that expensive. Some players signed so many balls over the course of their career that they actually devalued their own autograph. Some surfing on eBay will give you some ideas.
But there is another idea that might make a pretty cool gift: have a ball signed by someone that is a positive influence in the life of the person you are giving the gift to. That would mean a lot more than a signed ball by a famous stranger.
When I was coaching Little League, a kid was out sick. I grabbed a ball and wrote: "Get well soon," and signed it and passed the ball and the magic marker to all the kids on the team. We gave the ball to the kid's sister to pass on to him. He loved the ball signed by his teammates and he ended up recovering faster than expected. I think the ball had something to do with it.
At the end of the season, we gathered around to say our goodbyes until next year. I had a baseball for each boy on the team.
On one ball I wrote, "Most Improved Player" and gave it to the boy that was hopeless at the start of the season and turned into a skilled player by the end.
For the kid that stole the most bases, he got the ball that said, "The Bandit."
Another kid got one that said, "Best Catch in the Outfield" and the date and inning were written down and the team that we played.
And so on for each player. I hope they save those balls as a cool memento.
A GOOD BOOK
No other sport in the world has had more written about it than baseball. The volume of baseball literature dwarfs all other sports. So this means that you can find a very special book as a gift because if you want to give a gift to a person that has an interest in an odd baseball subject, chances are a book has been written about it.
There is fiction, how-to, biographies, team profiles, histories of obscure minor league teams, coffee table books, and children and young adult books. The scope of what has been written about baseball is massive.
I have many cherished books about baseball but there is one that stands out as my favorite. It just resonates with me. It's "Twilight of the Long-Ball Gods: Dispatches from the Disappearing Heart of Baseball" by John Schulian.
Here's a description from the back copy:
"A report from the true heart of baseball, this anthology leaves behind the bad boys and big names of the major leagues to take readers to the places where the spirit of America's game resides. These are a veteran sportswriter's dispatches from the bush leagues and the sandlot, his tributes to the Negro leaguers, mining-town dreamers and certifiable eccentrics who give baseball it's heart and soul, laughter and tears."
Playmaker Journal was designed to be the ultimate baseball/softball keepsake. I did not realize that when I was in the process of creating it. I was simply trying to design a pocket-sized scorebook that was handy to record my son's baseball games.
A few years have past and on my shelf are some scorebooks that I have filled up. I grab one now and then and open it and usually some game catches my eye. I holler at my son to step into my office and say, "Hey, do you remember this game?" and point out some play that he made. His eyes light up and we talk like the game was played yesterday.
Make it a tradition to put one in a player's Christmas stocking every year.
Because the math is very simple: there are only so many games where you will watch or son or daughter at the ball park and then it is over. The seasons go by so fast. With Playmaker Journal you have a written record of those times and all those good plays will not be forgotten.
Order one by clicking here.