Say what you will about 2016. There were lots of historical events, some good and some bad. But as we end the year, it’s a time to exchange gifts and celebrate with family and friends.
If you happen to have friends or family members that enjoy the great sport of baseball (or really any sport!), than I just made your day. As an annual tradition, I am showcasing a few items that I think will make the best gifts for the baseball lovers you know. Check out my Gift Guides from 2015, 2014 and 2013 too because I still love the items I featured on them! (Note: MLB is migrating their website to Medium, so some of the pictures aren’t loading right now, but the links still work!)
So let’s take a look at these cool items for the 2016 holidays that will make perfect gifts.
Prinstant Replays are really cool posters and t-shirts of the “greatest plays in sports history.” They cover every major American sport, and would make a great piece of art to hang in a man cave or bedroom. They feature a diagram of the play, the score, and a quote from the announcer.
My favorite for Nationals fans is Jayson Werth’s 2012 NLDS Game 4 walk-off poster, it says on the top “It’s a game winning, season saving home run for Jayson Werth,” the famed words of Charlie Slowes.
Stay tuned to my Twitter for a chance to win a couple of these awesome prints. You can also buy them online at prinstantreplays.com, and at about $30, they are relatively inexpensive. And right now they have a buy one-get one free special. This would make a great gift for any sports fan you know.
Herndon, Virginia-based Mascot Books is a company that allows authors from around the world to submit ideas for books that range from cultural cookbooks to books about sports teams. The company publishes three really good books that feature baseball or the local team, the Washington Nationals.
The first one, Trolley Dodgers, Pinstriped Yankees, and Wearing Red Sox, is a very interesting pitcure book about how MLB teams got their names and some interesting facts about the city they play in. The best part about it is that it is for young kids.
Also for younger kids is a biography of 2015 NL MVP Bryce Harper, called Glory Days Sports Biographies- Bryce Harper. It’s a picture history of Bryce, and his journey from the College of Southern Nevada to the Major League level. For Washington football fans, there’s also a Kirk Cousins book.
The third Nationals book I recommend is called Washington Nationals- A to Z and it is a history of the Nationals/Expos franchise featuring records, milestones, and important days. It’s for older readers.
Skinit makes cases and skins to customize your favorite electronic devices from your phone to your gaming system. They come in almost any design possible, from the MLB to the NCAA to Hello Kitty. Amazon.com lists over 200,000 different Skinits in every design for every device!
And even if your design is not on their website, you can customize one for yourself. I have a Nationals Skinit on my Playstation console and controller similar to this one (but mine is the Nationals’ alternate Stars and Stripes jersey in the picture to the left). You may be a little skeptical, but it’s actually very cool to see what your favorite devices look like after applying a Skinit to them. You can purchase these awesome cases and skins at skinit.com or on Amazon.com.
Ballpark Blueprints are basically exactly what the name says: a “blueprint” of every MLB, NFL, and most major NCAAF stadiums, and even some arenas, soccer stadiums, and classic stadiums, as well.
They make t-shirts and poster-size blueprints of the exterior and interior of the ballparks and stadiums. Click here to check out the whole selection and you will definitely find the one that’s right for you. (I happen to like these two   the best!).
For my Twitter followers, I have a giveaway! I have an adult size small t-shirt of Nationals Park that I am giving away to one lucky reader. But even if that lucky reader is not you, you can order one of these awesome shirts for any stadium at ballparkblueprints.com (where the selection is a little larger, including bags, calendars and coffee mugs) or order on Amazon.
Stance makes very cool socks and underwear that are officially licensed by the MLB and NBA. They have socks that represent every MLB team, and even some classic teams (like the Expos). You can even get some that pay tribute to MLB legends like Jackie Robinson or Nolan Ryan. If you can’t picture what I mean, take a look at a few examples by clicking on this link.
Take it from me- a kid around my age (12) would love a pair of Stance socks with their team colors. You can purchase Stance socks with team logos at stance.com or browse them in all different images and designs here.
Oyo’s minifigures and sets are back for 2016! The company, which makes little figures of sports players in the NFL, MLB, NHL, and NCAA along with vintage players, has updated their roster with Daniel Murphy and Trea Turner in the Nats’ festive third jerseys, and a limited edition Max Scherzer Cy Young minifigure.
They also make limited edition items for the World Champion Chicago Cubs and AL Champion Cleveland Indians, as well as limited editions for all of the MLB award winners, like Scherzer. Buy yours today for the stocking at store.oyosports.com, or get them here.
OK, this one is for all the real athletes! The Blast Motion Sensor is a sensor that you attach to the end of your baseball bat to track your swing and help you improve at hitting. This is a really neat tool. Using the Blast Motion sensor, you can see data about your swing speed, power, and swing direction so you can see the metrics of your swing. Think of it as Stat Cast in your bat!
All you have to do when you get the sensor is to charge it, pair it, attach it, and swing away. Whenever you hit the ball, it gives the statistics to an app that you can view after your hitting session is over. Learn more about the sensor at blastmotion.com or buy it now using this link (about $145 with free Prime shipping on Amazon). They also make a $120 sensor for golf (to track your swing) and also one for basketball to track your shots, layups and dunks.
In 2009, a guy chopping wood in upstate New York swung his axe. To him, it felt like swinging a baseball bat. He went to a sports manufacturer and they liked his idea. This gave birth to the Axe Bat, a baseball bat with a handle shaped like what you would find on, well, an axe. It’s become popular with many MLB players, such as Mookie Betts and Dustin Pedroia. They’re now made for hitters for all leagues, including youth and softball. Bats range from $300 for the 2017 HyperWhip Fusion model at the highest, to about $80 at the low end for youth size. A good middle of the road bat I like is the Element model. To view all of the bats, go to axebat.com.
SKLZ is renowned around the sports world as a maker of great training equipment. The company makes equipment for soccer, football, basketball, golf, softball, hockey, lacrosse, rugby, tennis, and volleyball as well as baseball. As they say, you need more than a bat to improve your game. That’s why I’m recommending their batting trainer, for about $150.
Online or in your favorite sports store, you will find all kinds of SKLZ baseball training equipment, including nets, contact baseballs, tees, and swing trainers.
Finally, in the Under-$50 category is the Super Stadium table-top baseball game. It’s kind of an old fashioned pinball type game, but that’s what makes it a fun alternative to electronic games played on tablets and video game systems.
This will keep smaller kids entertained, and even bigger kids too. The metal balls are surprisingly hard to hit with the lever. I had fun playing it with my brother. It was fun to actually interact with each other over the game.
I hope you have a phenomenal holiday season. For Nationals fans, let’s send our wishes to Mike Rizzo, as we would all love if he made a splash for a Christmas miracle like Daniel Murphy last year. And for all other baseball fans, I hope you have a good winter offseason and that Spring Training comes quickly! Happy holidays to all my readers!
I hope you like my 2016 Gift Guide. Remember to also check out my Gift Guides from 2015, 2014 and 2013 for other great recommendations. Please let me know in the comments or on Twitter which items you like best!