UPDATED FOR 2014: 2014 Holiday Gift Guide for Kids (https://mattsbats.com/2014/11/26/black-friday-holiday-gift-guide-for-2014-slash-2015/)
Are you wondering what to get your baseball-mad son, daughter, grandson, granddaughter, brother, sister, cousin, nephew, or niece (is that everyone?) for the holidays? Well, here are a few suggestions. I’m sharing some of my favorite baseball-related toys, books and other things. You’ll get a taste of what kids my age are into!
TOYS & GAMES
Baseball Guys from Kaskey Kids
This is a very simple imagination game, but my brother and I spend hours playing it. All Baseball Guys is is a set of plastic baseball player action figures, a cloth field, and a scoreboard. You can imagine any game scenario you want and move the players around the field. The set comes with blue and red teams and I like to pretend the red team is the Nats. This game is good for kids aged 6 and older because the action figures might be too little for younger kids. But little kids might like it because there are no rules. It’s like those little green Army men, but they’re baseball players.
Strat-O-Matic is a game that’s been around forever! It is a board game where you simulate baseball games by rolling dice and referring to cards with players’ actual stats. It is as close to real-life accurate simulation as anything. You use player cards that represent actual player stats from different teams – you can even play teams from past years (I’m waiting to get the team pack from the 1953 Dodgers!). This game is good for older kids (ages 8 and up) – it has very small pieces and you also have to know and understand baseball strategy. Adults who play Fantasy Sports would really like this game too! You can play Basic, Advanced, or Super Advanced, where you can factor in weather conditions, home field advantage, etc. It is a classic!
This is my favorite baseball game app for iPhone and iPad! You pick a team (I always play as the Nats) and you get to manage the team like real GM. You also get to play games where you hit, pitch, and change your players. You get rewarded with virtual player cards along the way. The best news: it’s FREE!
I really like to read, especially sports fiction. Here is a list of my favorite kids’ book authors.
Matt Christopher is a sports writer who writes realistic fiction on all sports, including baseball. He also does player biographies. My favorite Matt Christopher book is Stealing Home, which is about a kid who plays baseball who’s family hosts a foreign exchange student from Nicaragua. It’s a really funny book.
Dan Gutman writes lots of different kids books. He writes the Baseball Card Adventures series, where a a 13-year old boy is able to travel through time by touching baseball cards from different eras. My favorite Dan Gutman book is Babe and Me. In that book, the main character travels through time to Chicago 1932 to see if Babe Ruth really called that famous shot.
David A. Kelly is a baseball fiction writer who writes the Ballpark Mysteries series, a series about 2 kids about my age who try to stop thieves from taking items at baseball stadiums. My favorite David A Kelly book is the most recent one, The San Francisco Splash .
Washington Post writer Fred Bowen writes books about all sports, but his baseball books are really good. I like them because after he tells his story, there’s a chapter about something in real life that inspired the book. For example, in Perfect Game , there’s a chapter on Special Olympics Unified Sports (SOUS), a program for kids who want to do sports, but have intellectual disabilities. In the fiction part, the main character goes to a SOUS team and ends up helping a guy named Kevin.
Former Orioles Gold Glover, Silver Slugger, All-Star and Hall of Famer Cal Ripken, Jr. is now an author, writing awesome books for kids. They are cool because the plot of every book is about life, but it has a twist because it is baseball related. My favorite Cal Ripken book is Wild Pitch. It is an inspiring story about a boy who meets another boy with only one arm and they become best friends.
Jon Hart writes about his crazy sports-related adventures in Man Versus Ball. I’m not going to say too much about this book now because I will have a lot more to say about it later. But if you like to read about crazy stunts and just plain weird sports things that this guy has done, you will like this book.
Fatheads are awesome wall decals of sports stars. They’re cool because you can decorate your room with pictures of your favorite players. I love them and have a whole bunch of Nats players in my room. They are also removable. Check out this one of Bryce Harper, but they come in all your favorite Nationals players (or other teams too).
The Nationals Archive Shirt Shop: If you are a Nats fan and have ever been on the internet, you know that the Archivists at the Nationals Archive make the best jokes. They also have a t-shirt shop online with cool Nats-related logos. Even some of the players have been spotted wearing them. Some of my favorites are Run Until They Tag You (#RUTTY) (Bryce Harper), #SPANNING (Denard Span), and Steak, Taters, America (Ian Desmond).
You can get almost anything major league baseball related at MLB.com Shop. I recommend jerseys, hats, sweatshirts, t-shirts and other things for kids.
I hope you enjoy the items I recommend to you. If you buy any of them, let me know how they like it! I put in links to where you can buy these items on Amazon.com or other websites– some things like Nats Archive you have to buy from them, but the toys and books you can buy lots of places. I hope you have a happy holiday and new year. May 2014 be a World Series winning year!
Matt I just read your list of baseball-related gifts and it is great. I am trying to find something for my 11-year old nephew’s Christmas gift, and he is a big baseball fan. I am going to get him some of the books you recommend. I love your ideas. Thanks for your help and keep up the great work!