5. Baseball Cards – Baseball Cards have become a christmas tradition in the Yoder family. Not a year goes by where a stocking doesn’t at least have one pack of baseball cards in it. Some years it would be more extravagant than others. There would be complete box sets, grab bags, sometimes even an autographed or game used insert!
While I once was a pretty serious collector, now am just a fan of the novelty of it all. I love opening up a new pack and seeing what’s inside, even if it isn’t about value for me anymore. There’s something special about opening a package the same way people did 20, 50, even 80 years ago just to see a picture printed on a piece of cardboard…just hoping you’ll find your favorite player in there.
4. Swing-Away – Even though this product was endorsed by Derek Jeter, this was easily one of my favorite baseball toys. As a young diamond dog, I loved playing baseball, couldn’t get enough of it. Until the age of 15 I was sure I was going to be the Baltimore Orioles everyday second baseman by the time i was 21. That’s what made this gift so great, I never had to stop swinging a baseball bat. Essentially what it was was a baseball attached to two 6 foot cords which was harnessed to..well just about anything. You threw the ball one direction, it wrapped around whatever object you chose, and it would uncoil and come back to you. You’d swing and the process would repeat…over and over and over and over. I would use it for hours with only our porch light giving me visibility….I really loved that thing
3. Heart-of-the-Hide Baseball Glove- When I was a kid the best baseball glove in the world to me was the one my dad had used for 20 years and thought was too floppy to bother with anymore. When I got to high school though, and started playing competitively, things changed. Gloves were not only a major tool for a middle infielder like myself, but also a status symbol. Glove care, glove style, glovemanship, and yes, the brand of the glove all played a pivotal social role among the other infielders. While the Rawlings Heart of the Hide certainly wasn’t the last glove I ever had, it certainly was my favorite. It was the first glove I ever wore that I could see major leaguers wearing too. A top of the line piece of leather that I poured my heard and soul into. I spend days and days breaking it in, it wasn’t a chore but a mission that i felt i was lucky enough to have the grace to get to see out. This may sound cliche, but I would go to bed at night and sleep with it, that’s how much I loved the damn thing.
2. Mound Monster Pitching Mound – Let me start this by saying this is in no way an endorsement of this shotty product. I got the
mound monster when I was 13, and it was my world for about two years. This little plastic pitching machine shot off brand whiffle balls at you (not to you) at a trajectory that would make a spit ball look legal. Nevertheless, it was mine. My dad built a batting cage in the back yard out of plastic pipes and cheap netting and my backyard soon became a mecca for any kid who loved baseball. Eventually the cheap whiffle balls all broke, or got lost. The flimsy batting cage got snowed on and collapsed…but those days in my back yard staring down the mound monster, not sure whether I’d take a pitch to the face or groove one down mainstreet were great, great times.
1. Trip to Yankee Stadium – I, like any self respecting baseball fan, was brought up the hate the Yankees. But in 2008 when my dad gave me the present of a trip to any MLB baseball park on the east coast to see a game, my answer was easy, I wanted to see Yankee Stadium. You see, even if you hate the club that plays there, you can never deny the history of that ball park. Walking through the turnstiles and out onto the concourse literally blew me away. Camden Yards is beautiful, but as I looked out in the outfield I though, wow, Joe Dimaggio, Babe Ruth, Micky Mantel played there. It truly was a national landmark and it was a crime that it was torn down. I will never forget how unbelievable that experience was though. Feeling the deeply embedded culture of Yankees fans and the unbelievable history of that park makes me excited for what I hope I can someday feel at Nats Park.
Thanks for taking the time to read this post on your holiday, and have a wonderful Christmas everybody!.