Great baseball shirts from Baseballism

If you’re a casual baseball fan like me, you’re probably more interested in the game right now than you’ve ever been before. That makes this the perfect time to invest in some stylish, clever baseball apparel for yourself or for the baseball fan in your life. Baseballism is a great place to find baseball apparel that looks and feels good. The “premium off the field brand focusing on the class, tradition and history of baseball” was founded by four former college baseball players who had, earlier in their lives, run a baseball camp together. Their style plays on the traditional aspects of baseball without taking on the conventional and a slightly ugly characteristics of old-school baseball uniforms. You can purchase some of their shirts on Amazon here. I’ve highlighted a few of my favorites below.

6+4+3 = 2 — A simple gray shirt with this non-mathematical equation that makes sense only if you know that 6 refers to the shortstop, 4 refers to the second baseman, and 3 refers to the first baseman. When the three are involved in a play, in that order, it’s a double play (2 outs) with the shortstop fielding the ball, throwing it to the second baseman who touches the base to force the first base runner out and then throws it to the first baseman to get the hitter out. It’s a clever but knowable baseball reference.

This shirt is available as a T-shirt for men and women.

Baseballism shirt 6432

Baseball Blue Print — The field is one of the most unique things about the sports. While most sports are played in mundane, boring rectangles, baseball is played on a diamond within a misshapen fan-like field. Every baseball stadium is slightly different in its shape and dimensions. This Baseballism shirt shows the necessary geometry and dimensions for creating your own baseball diamond.

Baseballism Men’s Blue Print Shirt

Blue Print

Kit Keller — This women’s tank pays homage to Kit Keller, the younger sister of the main character in the classic 1992 baseball movie, A League Of Their Own. Kit pushes her older sister to go to Chicago with her to try out for the All-American Girl’s Professional Baseball League which really did exist and played for 12 years, beginning in 1943 when many male major leaguers were in the military services.

Kit Keller Women’s Tank

Kit Keller

Take Me Out to the Ballgame — If you ignore the slight gender inequality of this shirt (why can’t a woman take a man out to the ballgame?) and just focus on it’s excellent (Mets) colors and design, you can relish in the fact that a song first popularized in 1908 by Jack Norworth and Albert Von Tilzer remains instantly recognizable today.

Take Me Out to the Ballgame Tank


Bob Ryan's book: Scribe

What? You think it’s too early to start shopping for Christmas? I agree with you but it’s not what some of my local stores think because they’re already gearing up for the rush. I say, skip the stores and buy the sports fan in your life the new autobiographical book, Scribe: My Life in Sports, by Bob Ryan. Bob Ryan is one of the best known and most respected sports writers in the country. He started as an intern at the Boston Globe in 1968 and retired from full-time work there in 2012 after 44 years as a beat writer and columnist. He is a Boston sports writer, through and through — never bothering to adopt the feigned objective neutrality of many journalists in sports. When asked about that in a recent interview by Ryan Glasspiegel of The Big Lead, Ryan said:

I don’t see why anybody would ever have a problem with it. If you’re not a sports fan, why are you in the business? To me, I don’t quite understand people who aren’t true sports fans who are involved in this business.

It’s not that hard. You internally root. You don’t sit there and externally root — you internally care. And you do your job. It’s just not that hard. You see a game, the team wins or loses, you go talk to people, and if somebody stinks you say so. If it’s a good story, you’re positive. I just don’t understand what the inherent conflict is.

I haven’t read Scribe yet — it just came out — but I’ve enjoyed reading Ryan over the years as well as seeing him on TV as a panelist on the Sports Reporters, Around the Horn, and as a substitute host on Pardon the Interruption. He’s one of my favorite guests on the Tony Kornheiser radio show. Ryan is the most enthusiastic and knowledgeable sports personality out there. The Boston Globe review of Scribe noted that writing autobiographically, Ryan “offers a bonus: a reflective humor that can only come from years of working at a job you love.” I believe it!

It’s been quite enjoyable to have the publication of Ryan’s book as an excuse for a real Ryan love-fest in sports media. My favorite article about Ryan was Bryan Curtishomage in Grantland. His reverential tone serves to lift your own appreciation of Ryan as a writer and person. One of the effective tools he uses is including quotes about Ryan from athletes. For those of you who don’t follow sports that closely, athletes generally consider journalists to be a form of life somewhere between the mosquito and the raccoon. Bob Ryan is an exception:

The players followed Ryan, too. “He was an artist,” said guard Paul Westphal. “You could actually learn something about basketball, even as a player, by reading Bob’s articles.”

“I remember Bob coming up to me one day and asking if I wanted to have a beer after practice. I said, ‘Sure.’ We were just talking, and then Bob starts describing what we were doing on the court. He knew all our plays. He knew when people came off the bench. I was a rookie, remember. I started thinking, Do all the reporters know everything we’re doing out there?”

Scribe: My Life in Sports is available in hardcover and kindle now. It would make a great Christmas present for the sports fans in your life… and apparently, it’s time to think about that sort of thing!

Beautiful Baseball Stadium Prints

With four teams left alive in the baseball playoffs, fans of the San Francisco Giants, the St. Louis Cardinals, the Baltimore Orioles, and the Kansas City Royals are freaking out about their teams with good reason. Making the semifinals (called the American League Championship Series and the National League Championship Series) is an achievement in and of itself. For fans of the Orioles and Royals in particular, this year will be one to remember for a long time. One of those teams (they play each other) will make it to the World Series after only making the playoffs once since 1997 (Baltimore) or not at all since 1985 (Kansas City.) If you live with a fan of one of these teams, you might want to invest in one of these wonderful minimalist baseball stadium prints by S. Preston. Not only are they great presents but they’re also a good defense against your fan buying a regular sports poster to remember the season by; one that you will not want hung in your living room. A gift of one of these prints says, “I like how big of a fan you are and I support your team” without saying “let’s turn our house into a locker room.”

S. Preston is a “graphic designer and digital artist, born and raised in Canada, now living in sunny California.” These prints are a side project for him but an extremely successful one. As I think you’ll see from looking at his work, he’s a super talented artist. In his minimalist stadium series, he identifies one signature element of a stadium and designs a beautiful version of it. All of the prints are available for sale on his site in a number of different sizes and configurations. Particularly cool is the option to have the stadium name, city, and the date it was built excluded from the design. If you choose this option, you’re left with a striking, colorful representation of your or your fan’s favorite stadium without any words on it to clue in the uninitiated. Here are links to and samples of the prints for the four remaining teams in the playoffs. Follow this link to S. Preston’s website if you’d like to check out any other stadiums.

Kansas City Royals – Kaufman Stadium

The Royals are my favorite team remaining. They’ve lost forever and now that they’re good, they bunt constantly. It’s fitting that this is one of my favorite of S. Preston’s prints. I love how this print immediately makes you think of the Royals without showing a baseball, glove, bat, field, or anything.

Minimalist Kaufman Stadium


Baltimore Orioles – Camden Yards and Memorial Stadium

The Orioles are my second choice to win the World Series if the Royals can’t do it. They’re a bright, vibrant team from another long-suffering city. S. Preston not only creates visuals of current stadiums but also of some great stadiums that are no longer in use. Baltimore’s Memorial Stadium, demolished in 2002, is one of the stadiums that got S. Preston’s retro minimalist treatment. I have to say, I love the Camden Yards one — it shows just the B&O Railroad warehouse that sits behind the outfield of the stadium and still, you can tell what he’s getting at.

Camden Yards


Memorial Stadium


St. Louis Cardinals – Busch Stadium and Busch Memorial Stadium

St. Louis is one of the most successful baseball franchises and I’ve heard that it’s a more crazed baseball city than any in the country. If so, the city’s living rooms should be full of these prints. Both prints are great — the modern one identifies itself by the St. Louis arch mowed into the outfield. The vintage print shows the sky, the upper deck, and some very cool architecture on the roof.

Busch Stadium


Busch Memorial Stadium


San Francisco Giants – AT&T Park

If you only know one baseball stadium, you probably know Boston’s Fenway park because of its signature Green Monster wall looming over left field. If you only know two, you probably know Fenway Park and Chicago’s Wrigley Field with its classic brick walls covered with ivy. If you know three though, you probably know San Francisco’s AT&T Park because you probably saw it on the news when Barry Bonds was busy smashing balls over the wall and into McCovey Cove where lunatics in kayaks waited to grab them. That image is the one S. Preston chose in his second (and the only one still for sale) design of AT&T Park.

AT&T Park Version 1


AT&T Park Version 2


Gifts for Sports Fans: Who's on first?

Abbott and Costello


Abbott and Costello’s comedy routine, “Who’s on first” is a classic that remains funny today. It’s a wonderful slow burn where Lou Costello gradually gets angrier and angrier at Bud Abbott’s answers about a fictional baseball team because they don’t make sense to him. Explaining a joke always ruins it, so instead of trying to do it myself, let’s just enjoy the comedy genius of this Wikipedia explanation:

The premise of the sketch is that Abbott is identifying the players on a baseball team for Costello, but their names and nicknames can be interpreted as non-responsive answers to Costello’s questions. For example, the first baseman is named “Who”; thus, the utterance “Who’s on first” is ambiguous between the question (“Which person is the first baseman?”) and the answer (“The name of the first baseman is ‘Who'”).

Hysterical, right? I’m sure you’re LOLing already, if not ROTFLing. Seriously though, I think it’s one of the best routines out there. I enjoy it so much that I couldn’t help but label the positions with who played them (I know… first base…) in the skit throughout my post explaining what (second) each infield position does. Abbott and Costello are well worth enjoying with the sports fan in your life. Here are some great ways to enjoy their comedy and proudly represent yourself to the world as someone well versed in the history of sports and comedy.

  • You can listen to the skit for only 99 cents (or free from a transactional perspective if you have Amazon Prime) here.
  • Buy their entire collection of Universal Pictures films for $86.54 here. This includes Naughty Nineties and One Night in the Tropics, both of which have versions of Abbott and Costello performing Who’s on First.
  • There’s a variety of wonderful shirt options, as you might expect. Here are a few of my favorites:
    • The baseball jersey that has the name “Who” on the back, with the number “one.” Quick aside: thanks to Wikipedia, I found out that there have been two actual baseball players with Abbott and Costellian names: there was Allie Watt in 1920 and Chin-Lung Hu in 2007, of whom legendary announcer Vin Scully said, “Shades of Abbott and Costello, I can finally say, Hu, is on first base.”
    • There’s a classic t-shirt with a picture of Abbott & Costello performing the skit with the full text on the back.
    • For the visual learners out there, there’s a nice indie looking design with a baseball diamond drawn and filled in with the players’ names. This comes in all different formats: t-shirt, hoodie, men’s, women’s, baby’s, and more.
    • Finally, if you’re looking for the ultimate combination of nerdy comedy references, buy this shirt with a design that shows the classic time and space traveling phone booth from the show Doctor Who in the position of first base on a baseball diamond. Very clever!!
  • If you’re looking for other ways to physically represent the hilarity of the skit in your house, there’s a pair of Abbott & Costello animated dolls, a Throw Pillow, and a 27×40 poster.
  • Last but not least, and possibly going fast, is a copy of the 1978 “Who’s on First” Memory Game! There seem to be cards with names of players on them which you place on a baseball diamond board to challenge the other person’s memory and patience.

If you are a sports fan, a history fan, or a comedy fan or are looking for a present for someone who fits that bill, these are all great options.

The history of football team names

If the sports fan in your life loves football and history, this beautiful and comprehensive The Genealogy of Football Teams poster from HistoryShots might be a perfect gift. The 40″ by 21″ poster tracks the names, locations, divisions, conferences, and existence of all of the professional football teams from today all the way back to around 1900. Here are some of the historical highlights:

  • St. Louis named their team the All-Stars in the 1920s. It folded after a couple seasons.
  • Boston’s first football team, in the 1930s, was named the Braves. They changed their name to Redskins and then moved to Washington D.C. It wasn’t until the 1960s that the Patriots came into existence. Between the Redskins moving to Washington and the Patriots being created, the only time Boston had a team was during World War Two when they had a team called [gasp] the Boston Yanks!
  • World War Two created a shortage of players, so some teams merged during that time, often with rivals. My favorite tidbit is that the Pittsburgh Steelers and Philadelphia Eagles merged to become the “Steagles.” Try that one out at a cocktail party in Central Pennsylvania soon!
  • Then there’s just great names that haven’t survived, like the Los Angeles Dons, the Providence Steam Roller, the Staten Island Stapletons, and the Dayton Triangles.

HistoryShots is the product of partners Larry Gormley and Bill Younker. Their stated goal is to “create visual stories about subjects and topics by combining deep amounts of data with thoughtful designs” and I think they’ve succeeded with this poster. Nice work, guys! Go buy it on their website here.

Help fund a sensor that can help diagnose concussions

Jolt Sensor

Before the domestic violence and now child abuse scandals rocked the NFL, the leading concerning narrative was the prevalence of concussions or brain injuries. Concussions are a big problem in sports because we’re beginning to understand how frequently they occur to athletes and how serious their long-term consequences are. My colleague, Dean Russell Bell, wrote a post for Dear Sports Fan a couple of years ago explaining the issue of brain injuries in sports. In it he wrote that:

What also contributes to [the problem of brain injury in sports] is the so-called “sub-concussive” hits – the thousands of times a player will clash with someone and jostle the brain around in the skull just a little bit. This is one of the things that makes football the center of the brain injury story. In football, offensive and defensive linemen clash every single play with the force of a small automobile accident. Turns out these add up too, especially when you consider these guys have been playing football since they were kids. All of those little hits keep accumulating, and the concern now is that this is an issue that’s even bigger than pro football – that college and maybe even high school players may do some long-term brain damage. That issue is much more difficult to address, because you can’t get rid of that type of contact – it happens every play, all over the field.

What do you do if you can’t remove the source of danger? Well, you might look to at least monitor it so that you can pull a player out of a game once he or she has suffered a brain-rattling hit. Two MIT graduates are trying to make that goal a reality and they could use our help for their Kickstarter campaign. Ben Harvatine and Seth Berg started working on the Jolt Sensor while they were students at MIT. Harvatine suffered a concussion while wrestling for the MIT team but, like many athletes, he didn’t identify it as a concussion, and kept playing for a while. In their intro video, the two entrepreneurs mention that “the most dangerous thing an athlete can do after suffering a concussion is to get back on the field and continue playing.” Right after a first concussion, people are more likely to get a second concussion, and those concussions are more likely to have serious effects. In a tiny segment of athletes, unfortunately almost totally young athletes, a second concussion, can lead to second impact syndrome which is often fatal. Preventing secondary concussions by identifying first concussions is a valuable mission.

The Jolt sensor is basically a tiny clip with an accelerometer in it. Clip it to a football helmet or a headband and it will track the motion of an athlete’s head and send off alerts when it senses dramatic and potentially dangerous motion. Not only does the sensor buzz and light up, but more importantly, it sends an immediate alert to a mobile app where a parent or coach can see it and act to take the player off the field. Once on the sidelines, the Jolt app switches over to a diagnostic exam which tests against a player’s baseline scores to see if they have a concussion. I admire the way Harvatine and Berg have thought about the operational problems of brain injuries in sports as well as the scientific and medical ones.

A couple notes of caution about this project. The first, which is made very clear in the Kickstarter campaign page, is that Harvatine and Berg are not doctors, they make no promises that this device can actually diagnose concussions, and they recommend that any athlete who suspects having had a concussion be treated by a real, live doctor. The second is that devices like this have faced an uphill battle in the past. As the Washington Post’s Marissa Payne wrote in her profile of the Jolt Sensor, there have been serious objections from helmet makers, leagues, and schools to other devices like this. It’s hard to understand why anyone would object to a device that tries to make sports safer for everyone but if you think about it in terms of being an authority that could get sued, it makes a twisted kind of sense. The use of a concussion prevention device by a league or school might make it seem like that organization is vouching for the safety of anyone who doesn’t trigger the sensor’s alert. If that person gets a concussion and keeps playing because the sensor didn’t work, then you could perceive it as being the organization that bought the sensors’ fault. As for the helmet makers? Sensors like this simultaneously point out that helmets are virtually useless against concussions and undercut the great new concussion technology that the helmet companies are themselves trying to develop.

All objections aside, the Jolt sensor looks like a great device and its mission is a good one. They’re trying to raise $60,000 by Friday, September 26 to produce a final batch of sensors for testing and certification, and if all goes well, public consumption. If you want to give, even as little as a dollar, to this campaign, go do it here!

Gifts for Sports Fans: Quirky products for tailgating

No, not that kind of tailgating! We at Dear Sports Fan don’t encourage tailgating in your car unless you’re a professional race car driver. Today we’re talking about tailgating before a sporting event! Google defines tailgating as “eat[ing] an informal meal served from the back of a parked vehicle, typically in the parking lot of a sports stadium.” That’s a good definition but it doesn’t capture the sheer enthusiasm and total seriousness with which true tailgating sports fans regard the tradition of tailgating. If you’ve ever gone to a game five hours early to be wined and dined (or should that be beered and fed?) with some of the most elaborate in-car or under-tent cooking you’ve ever seen, then you know what I’m talking about.

Yesterday I got an email from Quirky advertising a few of their quirky products for tailgating and I thought I would pass them on to you. Quirky is a unique company that brings aspiring inventors and product managers into a community of people who love great stuff and then pairs them with the production wherewithal to create, market, and sell unique, orginal products. Everything they sell on their website was invented, designed, and created from within the Quirky community. If you’re interested, sign up here! Many of these inventions would make great gifts for the sports fan in your life, whether that’s your boyfriend, wife, son, or mother. Or even yourself!

The Grill Wrangler

Grill Wrangler

If you’re serious about tailgating, then you’re serious about conserving space in your car. Every extra tool you bring for cooking means one fewer beer or burger. This is a zero sum game, people! Paul A. Wachtel, the inventor of this product knows what I’m talking about. The grill wrangler is a three tools cleverly packaged together. It’s a spatula, a fork, and tongs. I know that when I cook, I love my tongs so much that I use them even when the task at hand is much more suited to another implement. I bet I’m not the only one who does this. With this tool, I could have my tongs and flip things without breaking them too.

Metal Sliders

Metal Sliders

This next invention is perfect for germ-phobic kebab lovers. It’s a set of metal skewers that have a built in metal tag that slides down the skewer, pushing the now perfectly cooked skewered food off the skewer as it goes. It’s one of those solutions to a problem that has bugged you for ages that seems so obvious once someone else (Tim Hayes, in this case) invents it and shows it to you.



Sometimes, like with the last product, inventions solve long unsolved problem. Other times, like with this sweet little gadget, they make something perfectly good, even better. Everyone knows the best part of a hot-dog is the outside, where it makes contact with the grill and picks up all those wonderful charcoally, slightly burnt flavors. The Cyclone takes a normal hot dog and transforms it into something with three or four times the surface area to get all charcoally and slightly burnt on the grill by spiral cutting it. That’s right, it’s (as its inventor, Zoli Honig writes on the website,) a “clever tool that spiral-cuts any wiener in seconds.” Used with sausages, as opposed to the pre-cooked hot dog, the spiral cut creates a more even, safer way to grill them to perfection.

Basketball and Baseball Uniform Posters

One of my favorite professional experiences came several years back when I was working as a business analyst for Return Path. My boss back then, Jack Sinclair, found an Edward Tufte one-day course and decided to send me to it. Tufte is one of the foremost practicers, proponents, and gurus of data visualization, the art of showing information through graphics. One of Tufte’s favorite techniques is the use of small multiples. Small multiples are graphics that repeat the same basic frame over and over again in a single view to emphasize the differences. Think the frames of a flip-book but instead of flipping from one to another to deliver a message, you display them all at once.

A good example of this is Tufte’s reworking of an instructional display of air-craft marshaling signals, as reproduced by

small multiples

One of my favorite creative poster companies, Pop Chart Lab, has a couple of sports posters that use this principle of small multiples. They’re running a sale through August 29 on these and other charts. Use the code, “solongsummer” to get 15% off. My favorite is the visual compendium of baseball uniforms. This poster shows 121 tiny baseball uniforms from teams from 1869 through 2014. Each tiny uniform is a lens to an era. Baseball, with it’s rich cultural of historical respect and nostalgia lends itself perfectly to this treatment.

Also good is a similar visual compendium of basketball uniforms. The concept is the same and it still works. Basketball has a shorter history and doesn’t really share the timeless nostalgia of baseball. What it does have though is a strong fashion and pop-culture presence. Hidden among the professional jerseys of this poster are jerseys from movies like White Men Can’t Jump and He Got Game as well as jerseys designed for record companies like Bad Boy and No Limit Records.

Visual Compendium BaseballVisual Compendium BasketballBoth posters are available for $35 before the 15% discount and are printed in my home borough of Queens. Get ’em while they’re hot!


Sports Style, Retro and Encyclopedic

One of the consequences of sports and sports teams being so well known by such a large percentage of the population, is that their colors, uniforms, and logos become fertile ground for cultural artifacts that refer to sports in one way or another. A few weeks ago, in a post about the controversy over the name of the NFL team, the Washington Redskins, we linked to a contest a design company had run to develop new logos for the team. Here are three other projects that use the language of sports for stylistic purposes.

An encyclopedic record of WWF champions

As found on, this compendious poster showing the history of the WWF (World Wrestling Federation) is obviously a work of great devotion. His wrestlers are simple figures with cube-shaped heads that seem to evoke the character heads from the video game Minecraft.  Professional wrestling isn’t really a sport, in my mind, but it shares many elements of sport and people who follow it are a lot like sports fans. Creator Scott Modrzynski has also done a lot of work creating foogos or logos made of food. One of my favorites is a deconstructed s’mores version of the Pittsburgh Penguins logo. It’s truly remarkable! And while the foogos are too perishable to buy, some of his other work is for sale here.

NHL sprites

Sticking with hockey, and also found by, here is a set of “sprites” representing the 30 NHL hockey teams plus the now defunct but still remembered fondly, Minnesota North Stars. These images are free to download. A sprite, as I discovered on wikipedia, was a shortcut used commonly in the early days of computer graphics to create a character that could be moved around on top of a background image without having to rebuild the background constantly. There is a set of comics that use sprites as characters for stylistic reasons but also because (again) it’s easier that using characters and backgrounds that have to be rebuilt for each image. One of the most popular of these comics used sprites from the video game Megaman. It’s these characters that artist, Adam4283 emulates when creating his set of hockey players.

8-bit tees of NFL helmets

Our last find is a set of T-shirts sold on with simple, 8-bit style representations of NFL team helmets on the front. The unnamed creator of these shirts left a message explaining that “If you feel yourself being transported back to the days of Tecmo Bowl, don’t be alarmed…that was the idea.” Tecmo Bowl was one of the first, and still one of the most loved, football video games ever. To get a sense of how popular it remains, there’s a youtube video of someone playing the game that has received over 1.6 million views since being posted in 2006. These shirts are a clever homage to the game.

There’s a few shared elements in all three of these products. All of them mash-up well-known sports visuals with video-game graphics. All of them evoke an earlier time. And all of them would make a great gift for a sports fan in your life!

Stanley Cup Popcorn, an Explosive Hockey Gift

Hockey’s championship trophy, the Stanley Cup, is the best trophy in sports. It’s giant, it’s shiny, and it reeks of tradition. In our post about why people like hockey we wrote that the summer after players win the cup:

“each player gets a day with the cup. They can take it to their home town, take it to their favorite vacation spot, to visit a hospital, or a bar… they drink champagne from it or eat cereal. Some have slept with it in their beds.”

According to Wikipedia, one of hockey’s oldest traditions “dictates that the winning team drink champagne from the top bowl after their victory.” They claim that players have been doing this since 1896 when the Winnipeg Victorias gulped down some celebratory bubbly.

Now you can get give the hockey fan in your life the thrill of their life every night with the NHL League Logo Stanley Cup Popcorn Maker. For full disclosure, this Stanley Cup is not actually authentic, but a precedent for popcorn was set in 2000 when New Jersey Devils goaltender Martin Brodeur took the Cup to the movies with his family, filled the cup with popcorn, and went to town!

I see no reason why you and a loved one shouldn’t sip champagne from the top while you share some popcorn from the bottom!

Thanks to our friends at Yahoo’s Puck Daddy for this amazing gift idea.