November 2020

2020 Matt’s Bats Holiday Gift Guide – Small Business Edition

Happy holidays! This year has been quite a doozy. From the death of basketball superstar Kobe Bryant, to wildfires engulfing Australia and parts of California, to social unrest following senseless acts of police brutality, to a bitter and divisive election season, and of course, the worldwide coronavirus pandemic, we’ve been through a lot in 2020. To cap it all off, this holiday season is unlike any other most of us have ever experienced – the normal large family gatherings and celebrations will be replaced by family-wide video calls from our own homes. 

I have made holiday gift guides in the past, where I have recommended some of my favorite products for the ultimate baseball fan. In such a strange and unusual year, however, I want to shake things up a little bit and share some of my favorite holiday gifts from local small businesses in the DMV. Today is Small Business Saturday – as a descendant of generations of small business owners and the son of one myself, I know the vital role small businesses play in our community. The economic effects of this pandemic have hurt small businesses significantly, and it is so important to support these backbones of our community this holiday season. Whether or not you buy something off of the 2020 Matt’s Bats Holiday Gift Guide, please consider shopping small and supporting members of your community this holiday season. 

Without further ado, here is my 2020 Holiday Gift Guide, featuring local small businesses from the DMV!

Seventh and F: As one of my Twitter followers put it, Seventh and F is the quintessential stop for any DC fan to rep their favorite team. With their name inspired by the intersection right outside Capital One Arena, Seventh and F is a homegrown small business that makes t-shirts, hats, mugs, and stickers. Their selection ranges from memorable moments and quotes in DC sports history (like Howie Kendrick’s Game 7 home run or Dave Martinez’s speech after the Nats clinched the NL Pennant in 2019) to sleek designs to let everyone know where you’re from and who you root for (like this Nationals World Series Champions shirt or this DC local shirt). Seventh and F has something for the Nationals, Capitals, Wizards, or Washington FT fan in your life. Check out their selection at seventhandf.com and follow them on Twitter and Instagram @seventhandf!

Route One: This one is for all my fellow Marylanders! Our state has one of the most unique cultures in the United States, so Route One takes all things Maryland and puts them on masks! They sell a state flag mask (we have the best state flag by a long shot), a mask that looks like a can of Old Bay, a mask with crabs colored with our state flag (can you spot a common theme here?), and much, much more. After all, what’s better than showing off your state pride while also keeping your community safe by wearing a mask! And don’t worry, DC residents: Route One also makes a DC flag mask! Unfortunately, Virginia doesn’t have a very mask-able flag, but this would be a perfect stocking-stuffer for any Marylander or Washingtonian. Their entire collection is available at routeoneapparel.com, and on Twitter @routeoneapparel!

DC-Inspired Art – Looking for an art piece to finish off a room or for your work-from-home desk? Look no further than DC’s own Cris Logan Art and LifeOfTheArty, both on Etsy! Both artists have incredible Nationals prints available for sale: Logan made an awesome piece featuring the DC skyline with the World Series trophy, while LifeOfTheArty has a super cute piece with the Racing Presidents wearing masks. Both also have tons of other DC-inspired art, including Logan’s DC skyline from Georgetown work and LifeOfTheArty’s piece with the Capitol building and cherry blossoms. Both of their portfolios are super impressive, and a print would be the perfect gift for any Washingtonian!

Due South – You can never go wrong with a meal from Due South, on the Capitol Riverfront near Nationals Park, before a game! If you have never had Due South before, they make some of the best Southern food in the area. What’s best about Due South is that they have available delicious family meals, which they will deliver to all of DC and some parts of Maryland and Virginia. A fried chicken dinner from Due South is always a favorite among my family, and there’s always leftovers for the next day! You can buy a gift card for Due South here – don’t forget to try their sister restaurants, like Millie’s in Spring Valley and Surfside in Tenleytown, which also offer family meals!

Ice Cream Jubilee – This is definitely the sweetest item on the list, and it’s for good reason – you would be hard pressed to find a better ice cream cone in the DC area than at Ice Cream Jubilee. Sure, maybe the weather is getting colder, but it’s never too cold for ice cream! My favorite flavors of ice cream from Ice Cream Jubilee are mint chip and passionfruit guava sorbet. Ice Cream Jubilee has locations in Logan Circle, Ballston, and near Nationals Park at Navy Yard. In addition to visiting them the next time you have a sweet tooth, consider supporting them by buying a pint of ice cream or a gift card. If you are in the DC area, Ice Cream Jubilee sells pints at most Whole Foods locations, and if you live somewhere else, you can order six pints directly shipped to your door here. Seriously, don’t miss out on this one!

If you are looking for a different type of gift, consider looking through this catalog of DC small businesses and support local entrepreneurs and artists! You can also check out the DC Holiday Market online. Thank you for shopping small this holiday season!

Brooks Robinson, Craig Stammen to be Honored at Bob Feller Act of Valor Award Ceremony – Register Today!

Orioles legend Brooks Robinson and former Nationals pitcher Craig Stammen are the recipients of the 2020 Bob Feller Act of Valor Award, and you can watch the virtual ceremony for free! The ceremony will be held on Thursday, November 19, at 6:30 pm.

In a time of such deep division following a major election, it can seem challenging to find something that brings all Americans, from all walks of life, together. The Bob Feller Act of Valor Award combines two of the things that do bring us together – baseball, our national pastime, and our respect and reverence of our active-duty and retired members of the military. The event honors and pays tribute to Bob Feller, a Hall of Fame pitcher for the Cleveland Indians, who enlisted in the U.S. Navy the day after the attack on Pearl Harbor. Feller was the first American professional athlete to join the military during World War II, and gave up three of his “prime” years as a pitcher to serve our country.

There are six winners of the Bob Feller Act of Valor Award every year, each representing a different category. Winners of each award “possess the values, integrity, and dedication to serving our country that Bob Feller himself possessed.” This year, the recipients are:

Brooks RobinsonMLB Hall of Fame Award

Former Nationals player Craig StammenActive MLB Player Award

Aviation Ordnanceman Chief Lacresha DowdellNavy Chief Petty Officer Award

Master Sergeant Hermann KruppaMarine Corps Jerry Coleman Award

Training Support Center, Great Lakes CSADDPeer-to-Peer Award (Ashore)

USS America Junior Enlisted AssociationPeer-to-Peer Award (Afloat)

I have had the honor of attending the Bob Feller Act of Valor Award ceremony each year since the first ceremony in 2013. Last year, I interviewed the two baseball recipients, Hall of Fame pitcher Randy Johnson and Kansas City Royals pitcher Ian Kennedy. And earlier this year, I was featured on the Act of Valor Award’s American Valor podcast, which you can listen to below – pardon my outdated and incorrect takes on the season from way before it started!

https://open.spotify.com/embed-podcast/episode/4LyUAQoB0ZmmIIdgJemCtf

You can register for the 2020 Bob Feller Act of Valor Award ceremony for free by following this link. Alongside the ceremony, there will be a virtual auction where you can bid on autographed items from this year’s winners and prior recipients. The Act of Valor Award ceremony is a great way to support our troops and remember the service of a great American, Bob Feller.