Discover more from Uni Watch
The 2023 Uni Watch Holiday Gift Guide
Special items for that uni-obsessed person on your gift list (or just for yourself!)
Ho-ho-ho! Welcome to the annual Uni Watch Holiday Gift Guide, your best source for cool sports-themed gift items. The ground rules, as in past years, are simple: You won’t find standard-issue Fanatics-style stuff here (you already know where to find those), but if you’re looking for unusual products relating to uniforms, team logos, and other areas of athletics aesthetics, you’ve come to the right place.
As usual, your friendly uniform columnist has tried to compile items from a variety of different sports and a wide range of price points, so there should be something for everyone on your shopping list (or just for yourself).
Remember, the holiday season is a busy time for vendors, especially for those who produce custom-made items. So for best results, order early!
Ready? Here we go.
The Geddy Lee Baseball Memorabilia Collection, From Christie’s and Hunt Auctions
Strange but true: Rock star Geddy Lee, of Rush, has amassed one of the world’s major collections of important baseball artifacts. He’s now auctioning off hundreds of his prized items — old programs, jerseys, signed balls, paintings, trophies, bats, and more. The rarest and most historically significant items are expected to fetch prices well into the six-figure range, but there are also plenty of pieces projected to go for a few hundred bucks. Here’s where you can check out the items that will be sold in the online and live auctions, both of which close in early December — perfect timing for the holiday gift season.
Old-Fashioned MLB Cardigan Sweaters, From Ebbets Field Flannels
Before there were dugout jackets, big league ballplayers wore wool cardigan sweaters. I’ve been waiting seemingly forever for some enterprising company to offer reproductions of these gorgeous garments, and now Ebbets Field Flannels has finally done it. Check out the full product line here.
Classic Scoreboards: An Illustrated History, by Gary P. Chanko
Illustrator and longtime Uni Watch weekend contributor Gary Chanko has an intense fascination with old baseball and football scoreboards, and now he’s turned that passion into a new book, featuring his renderings of classic scoreboards at particularly powerful moments in sports history. The illustrations are accompanied by solid historical info on the scoreboards’ stadiums, and there’s also a foreword by former MLB pitcher and longtime Uni Watch reader Jerry Reuss. The book is available here, and you can see more pages from it here.
Limited-Edition Henry Aaron Wristwatch, From Oris
Got a spare $2,500 on hand? That will buy you one of these handsome watches from Oris, with a team-evocative design on the front and an embossed rendition of Hammerin’ Hank on the back. Produced in an edition of 2,297 — one for each of Aaron’s career runs batted in (still the all-time record). Sure, it’s a splurge, but that’s what the holidays are for, right? Check it out here.
Goalie Blocker-Style Key Rings, From Kenesky
Another company was offering something similar to these a few years ago, but not anymore, so Kenesky is now your best bet for key rings pattered after the classic waffleboard-style goalie blocker. Even better, they let you choose your own uni number and pick your own colors for several of the elements. An impressive degree of customization options for such a small item! They’re available here.
English Soccer Team Cartoon Histories, From Richard Argent
If you’re a fan of English
soccer football, you’ll love these fun posters by cartoonist Richard Argent. They’re available for nearly 50 different teams, and there’s a similar collection depicting the history of notable UK football stadiums.
Jersey-Themed Koozies, From Puffin Drinkwear
This product line of colorful drink koozies is called “Gridiron,” so I guess they’re supposed to be football jerseys, but the striped trim at the bottom also makes them evocative of hockey jerseys. Available in eight different colors, they’re a fun way to tell the world you like uniforms. Check them out here.
Team Logo Jigsaw Puzzles, From Iconic Puzzles
If you’re one of those people who got hooked on puzzles during the pandemic, then you’ll want to check out these wooden puzzles based on team logos. Available for a range of MLB, NFL, and soccer teams.
“GO” Women’s Top, From Miaou
This women’s shirt, produced by the fashion brand Miaou, isn’t a real jersey, and the $165 price tag is a bit ridiculous, but I like the old-school styling and the “GO” message. Available in three colors here.
Hominy Indians Jersey, From The NTVS
On Dec. 26, 1927, the Hominy Indians — an Oklahoma football team whose roster featured Native Americans from 22 different tribes — defeated the newly crowned NFL champions, the New York Giants, 13-6. This jersey, produced by The NTVS (“The Natives"), a brand that celebrates Native American culture, is a reproduction of what the Hominy squad wore that day. Check it out here, and also check out the brand’s Jim Thorpe jersey.
Baseball Glove Wallets, From Assorted Etsy Creators
Leather goods made from baseball gloves aren’t new, but the phenomenon has really exploded on Etsy, where a seemingly endless array of leathersmiths are turning glove leather into wallets (and also knife sheaths, key rings, tote bags, and more). Depending on what you want, your one-of-a-kind wallet can include the manufacturer’s logo (Rawlings is definitely the most common), a Hall of Famer’s signature, or endearing descriptors like “Edge-U-Cated Heel.” There are literally hundreds of these available, so start your shopping venture by searching on “baseball glove wallet” on Etsy.
Got Your Number: The Greatest Sports Legends and the Numbers They Own, by Mike Greenberg
If you or someone on your shopping list is seriously into uniform numbers, then you’ll want to check out this book by ESPN’s Mike Greenberg, in which he chooses the best athletes to wear every uni number from 1 though 100. Naturally, some of his choices are bound to provoke some pushback and debate, which is pretty much the whole point of a book like this one. It’s available here.
Football-Themed Yoga Pants and Sweatpants, From 2SeamApparel
Etsy creator 2SeamApparel makes capri leggings and sweatpants patterned after NFL and college football pants and socks. A fun way to showcase your fandom while jogging, working out, or just hanging out. Check out the full collection here.
Zollner Pistons T-Shirt and Cap, From Old Fort Baseball Co.
If you’re a student of NBA history, you probably know that the Detroit Pistons were originally the Zollner Pistons, a semi-pro team comprised of employees from the Zollner Corporation, a foundry that manufactured pistons in Fort Wayne, Ind. Less well known, however, is that Zollner also sponsored an extremely successful fast-pitch softball team called the Pistons, who played at Zollner Stadium, which is still used today by a local high school! Now the Old Fort Baseball Co. is offering a some merchandise based on that long-ago softball squad. Bonus points for putting the NIFL logo (for the National Industrial Fastpitch League, don’tcha know) on the side of the cap. The tee and cap are available here, and the company also features a fun assortment of Indiana-themed apparel.
Ballpark-Scented Candles, From Homesick
Frankly, I’m not sure what a Citi Field candle would smell like, or how it would differ from a Wrigley Field candle, or a Fenway Park candle, or any of the other officially licensed ballpark-scented candles that Homesick offers. But if you need a gift for the proverbial fan who has everything, this might do the trick. Check out the full line here.
NHL Pennants, From Oxford Pennant
Longtime Uni Watch favorites Oxford Pennant have had a relationship with the NHL’s Buffalo Sabres for many years (you may recall that I did a story last year on how they created one of the banners hanging from the rafters of the team’s arena), but they’ve never had an NHL merchandising license — until now. For their first foray into the NHL retail market, they’re producing, of course, a set of classic team felt pennants, all made in the USA. Check out the full product line here.
Defunct NFL Team T-shirts, From Single Wing Athletic Co.
Fans of the NFL’s ragtag early days will get a kick out of these T-shirts for now-forgotten teams like the Dayton Triangles, the Providence Steam Rollers, and the Staten Island Stapletons, among several others. Check out the full product line here.
Sports-Themed Children’s Spelling Books, From Alphabet Legends
The children’s publisher Alphabet Legends has a bunch of really fun sports-themed spelling guides, each packed with solid info and entertaining letter-based illustrations. The organizing topics include a wide range of sports (basketball, football, hockey, men’s soccer, women’s soccer, tennis, Formula One) and notable teams (Los Angeles Lakers, Boston Celtics, New York Yankees, Dallas Cowboys, Manchester United, Liverpool FC). A fun way for kids to learn about sports history, sports artwork, and the alphabet all at once!
Goodale Park FC Jersey, From Supporter Supply Co.
Let’s get this straight from the outset: There’s never been a soccer team called Goodale Park FC. Instead, Goodale Park is actually a historic public park in Columbus, Ohio, and the Columbus-based Supporter Supply Co. has imagined a fictitious soccer team that supposedly played its home games in the park. The resulting jersey is a beauty, complete with an old Columbus-based circus as the chest advertiser and a parkland squirrel below the rear collar. As a bonus, 10% of the proceeds will benefit the Columbus Recreation and Parks Foundation. The jersey is available here, and Supporter also has lots of other cool Ohio-themed apparel.
The following vendors and products have been featured in the Gift Guide in previous years and are definitely worth revisiting:
Very cool T-shirts based on defunct baseball teams are available from Moonshot.
Check out these spectacular necklace pendants based on old hockey goalie masks from Shadow Rose Design.
If you’re into college basketball shorts, look no further than 19Nine.
Bill Henderson’s Game Worn Guide to MLB Jerseys remains the essential resource for charting the history of baseball jerseys in the post-flannel era.
If you're into hockey history, you definitely need a copy of Fabric of the Game: The Stories Behind the NHL's Names, Logos, and Uniforms, written by longtime Uni Watch pals Todd Radom and Chris Creamer.
The great artist Daniel Duffy makes sports-themed posters and prints that consist entirely of lettering. Amazing stuff — see for yourself at his website, which is appropriately called Art of Words.
If you like custom-made mini-helmets, Rocker T Collectibles is the king of the hill.
All sorts of gift items made from upcycled game-used memorabilia are available from the good folks at Tokens & Icons.
Sports apparel doesn’t get more niche-oriented than curling T-shirts. Steve’s Curling Supplies has a wide range of them.
And if you’re looking for a one-of-a-kind splurge, artist Sean Kane is still turning out spectacular artwork painted onto old baseball gloves.
And there you have it. Whatever you have planned for your holiday season, here’s hoping it’s a good one, filled with lots of great gifts and memories — uni-related or otherwise.
(Big thanks to everyone who suggested items for this year’s guide, especially Kary Klismet.)
Uni Watch is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, please consider becoming a paid subscriber. Thank you!
• • • • •
I publish articles here on Substack four times per month, which means there are four “bye weeks” built into the 52-week calendar year. The next of those byes — the final one for 2023 — will be next week, so my next Substack article will be the week after that, on Nov. 30.
Until then, stay well, have a great Thanksgiving, and thanks so much for your continued support of Uni Watch.
Paul Lukas knows who’s been naughty and who’s been nice, but he’s not telling. If you like his Substack articles, you’ll probably like his daily Uni Watch Blog, plus you can follow him on Twitter and Facebook and check out his Uni Watch merchandise. Have a question for Paul? Contact him here.