Well, somehow the holidays are upon us once again. It’s time to make your list, check it twice, and decide who gets the best gifts.
Here at JBR HQ, we’ve looked, read about and tested hundreds and hundreds of baseball and softball related gear this year. We also have children, lots of them. Such elements are the perfect combination for determining the best gifts for baseball and softball related gear this holiday season.
We were one of the very first to review the Lizard Skin Bat Grips for baseball and softball in 2014. Since then, we’ve seen thousands of readers land on that page and click through to buy. The grips are super soft and tacky. We suggest the 1.8mm version for just about everyone. It improves the hitting experience and customizes a player’s bat for something close to $12.
Any baseball player’s gift bag or stocking for without one of these deserves a “Bah Humbug”.
The ProHitter is another rock solid gadget every player needs — once they know it exists. Look closely, as we point out in our ProHitter review earlier in the year, and you’ll see over 50% of MLB players with this item around their thumb.
What is it? The ProHitter closes the gap between the natural shape of the top hand of your grip with your bat’s knob. In turn, better contact increases grip strength and means less pain on mishits. As well, some argue, the little item can help with more consistent swings.
$12 later and you’ve got yourself the perfect gift for the baseball or softball player who thought they had everything. $12.
What says “I Love You” more than helping a player protect their $400 glove? Take it from us, everyone knows they should be conditioning both new and old gloves with oil to both work in and protect it, yet few really do it consistently.
There are a lot of other oils on the market and we suspect some may be similar in premium quality, but none we’ve ever seen also use a clever spray bottle like the applicator to get the oil where you want (in the creases of the leather) instead of where you don’t (in the creases of your pants).
This Wilson Premium Glove Oil is the best applicator on the market and, at less than $10, makes the perfect little gift for any baseball or softball player, coach or parent. $10.
These newly released Pro Lite batting gloves from Marucci have a unique feature the camera can’t pick up. A breathable mesh on the back of the hand wicks away sweat and leaves you feeling like you’re not wearing a glove at all. As a result, these are one of our most favorite batting glove designs of the year and, for the record, Jose Bautista of Blue Jays fame thinks so too.
Any player who has yet to use a real legit pair of batting gloves will never go back. At $49 they make a solid gift. $49.
What may be the best looking batting glove on the market today, if not also the most popular, DeMarini’s Digi Camo Batting Gloves get full marks when it comes to design. Made nearly by accident, these gloves have taken Little League, high school and collegiate ranks by storm.
From a pure quality standpoint, the gloves are above solid and we like the price point and design of these even better. Around $34.
The Evoshield Wrist Wrap is a sweet grab for any serious baseball or softball player. Good news is, at least in some models, the wrist wrap is closer to $10. There are some colors and sizes in the $25 range. You just have to check. Softball options can be found at this link.
The wrap easily attaches to your bottom hand wrist and gives that added layer of security on the arm for errant pitches. It doesn’t hurt that wearing one looks pretty sweet and a number of pros use them too. At Most $25, Maybe $15.
When you run a blog dedicated to baseball and softball bats you tend to see a number of bats, and maybe surprisingly, a number of batting practice jackets. Our far and away favorite is Marucci’s half sleeve jacket. It comes in a few different colors, and for around $30, we think every parent of serious baseball players on the planet should own one of these. It’s well constructed and feels great.
It is the perfect gift for a dad who spends a lot of time on the field, and if we didn’t already own it, you would find it on the top of our personal wish list. Turns out there are some youth versions of the jacket too (Youth Price Check). $29.
We reviewed the Franklin custom batting glove site earlier in the year and were downright impressed. We still are. These things are MLB quality gloves for around $50. The only problem: they take 4 to 6 weeks to deliver so a holiday gift buyer needs to plan well in advance. If you can make it happen (or your child has a post-holiday January birthday) you’ll find this is one of the best possible gifts this holiday season. Around $50. 4-6 Weeks for Delivery.
These pullover fleece half zip-up jackets from DeMarini are top notch and worthy of any parent or player’s baseball and softball gear bag. Perfect for a travel team to put a logo on and be all matchy-matchy. It has pockets, feels great and the color inserts look great too. Easy to pull over or take off, weather permitting, this is a sharp enough look to wear to the movies or on an airplane.
For those who don’t live in year round baseball weather but still try and play baseball year round, this warm yet action-friendly jacket is the best we have found. $54.
You don’t have to know what a fungo bat is to buy this for that favorite coach in your life. This Axe Maple Fungo is a very well crafted pure maple fungo bat with the famed Axe Grip (which we’ve often discussed here). The bat, used for fielding practice, has a great balance and great control. We are also in love with the asymmetric handle on the bat.
If you don’t have a fungo bat in your bag and/or never used a true maple stick to hit with, we’d highly suggest this little gem move up on your list. $60.
We tested every roller bag we could find a few months back and, while there were plenty good ones, we settled on the Rolling Superpack from Boombah as our favorite. Great design and very durable, the roller bag allows for you to store the contents of a small apartment as well as several bats and myriad baseball and softball related gear.
Boombah is a direct to consumer related company so their site is the only place you can pick them up. They come in a multitude of colors and camo designs. Last we checked there were something like 60 different designs. If you’re in need of a roller bag this is an easy decision. $69.
Easily our most favorite bat pack in all of baseball. The Series 9 Louisville Slugger Bat Pack looks great, feels perfect, and carries everything you could imagine. The bag is breathable to help with odors, has 4 neoprene bat holders to protect the sticks, a hard case to hold breakables (like a phone) and a number of little side pockets which are easily accessible.
The only downside may be the fact it only comes in the steel grey look. Luckily we love that color for a top shelf bat bag. If you really need other colors, Slugger makes a Series 7 version with fewer bell and whistles but a lot more colors. It will also save you about $30. (Series 7 Price Check). $79.
If you are looking for a real unique solution to your holiday gift woes this year then may we suggest a custom maple bat from Sam Bat, the original maple bat company? The bats are gorgeous and game ready and come in a number of sizes and options for all. You can even make trophy or memorabilia bats as keepsakes.
The bats from Sam Bat are made to professional standards on the very same lathes, and with the very same wood, that MLB players use day in and day out. They do take a couple weeks for production and delivery so get your order in sooner rather than later. $95.
The Adidas Afterburner 2.0 Uncaged baseball cleats are flat out sick. They also happen to be the claimed lightest cleat in all of baseball. They range in designs from bulldogs and bears to dolphins and eagles because nothing, and we mean nothing, could help you run down a well hit ball in the gap better than a black panther design on your foot—or so my 9 year old tells me.
The only disadvantage is the smallest size they come in is a 6.5 so some younger players will be left out. But at $100 it might be smarter to wait until their feet have stopped growing to drop a Franklin on these bad boys. $100.
When we reviewed the Zepp Baseball Sensor at the beginning of the year we knew they were on to something. This sensor attaches to the bottom of any baseball or softball bat and gives specific readouts on swing performance, like swing speed, etc. which heretofore were impossible for a player to gather without spending thousands of dollars in a high tech lab. They since expanded those metrics into detailed analysis and swing planes along with a number of instructional videos to improve mechanics.
All in all, it is the one of the most revolutionary changes in baseball and softball coaching ever to take place. Any player or coach wanting to get very serious about their swing needs this. (Oh, and by the way, it can double as a golf or tennis swing analyzer too). Don’t forget to buy the attachment mounts. $125.
There isn’t an easier decision on this entire list. MLB.tv changes the game and continues to be the leading service among all professional sports content providers. It’s app available on whatever device you have and gives you access to games and data you would never see otherwise.
The only real caveat is the blackout restrictions found in your area. Depending on where you live, local teams are blacked out for live use on the service. Meaning, if you’re a huge Yankees fan and live where Yankees games are often broadcast, then it is unlikely you’ll be able to watch on the app. But if you live outside a major market or want to follow a team or set of teams outside your TV market, then this service comes 100% recommended.
We’ve goofed around with at least a half dozen hitting trainers this year and we’ve found that nothing recreates a game like a cage and a live pitcher. That said, however, we think the SKLZ Hit-Away training system does as good a job as any by terms of increasing reps, being portable and requiring a swing that is at least somewhat consistent with where success is found at the plate.
It works for all ages and doesn’t have a ton of moving parts so durability isn’t as big a concern as with others in this space. It also prices out well compared to several other mechanisms trying to increase reps. $120.
As long as you’re not buying BBCOR, you can get what may be considered the best baseball or softball bat for 2016 this holiday season under $400. The DeMarini CF8 is a proven workhorse that we reviewed months ago. Since, we’ve fallen in love with its new extended barrel and fantastic feel all along the barrel.
We’d generally suggest waiting closer to the season before buying a bat, but with the CF8 you can have the utmost confidence the player is getting as good a bat as possible and as much barrel for swing weight as the market produces. $349.
We reviewed a few types of youth catcher’s gear this year and fell in love with the price point, look, and quality of Boombah’s DEFCON Catcher’s Gear Set. It comes in Red, Black and Gray as well as this Navy Blue Color. (See our DEFCON review here).
It’s a quality product rivaling any catcher’s gear on the market at, compared to some, a fraction of the price, made possible by Boombah’s direct to consumer model. About $240.
The Custom Glove site from Wilson is a beautiful thing and anyone who plays or coaches the game would love, and we mean LOVE, a custom made A2000 or A2K from Wilson. The glove itself is a top of the line construction made with decades of experience. The combination of colors and designs are straight out off the chain.
These gloves do take up to 4 weeks to be delivered, so if your gifting happens on December 25th, you need that order in before Thanksgiving. Around $500.
The Stalker Sports Radar Gun is a must have for any coach or parent who wants to track progress of their team or player. We use this around the JBR HQ all the time and find lots of great applications outside of baseball too. Around $500.
It’s also durable as we prove in this video:
JBR HQ uses this very machine, the Hack Attack, for most of its bat reviews—and we love it. It’s a three wheeled pitching machine that can pitch any type of pitch you can imagine. For a machine, it treats real baseballs relatively nicely and can be adjusted to shoot softballs too (if you buy the extension. It has great top end speed and allows the hitter to see the ball well before it’s delivered through the shoot. Also, it has a few add-ons for an auto ball feeder. It moves easily with roller wheels attached to the front for easy storage.
If your cage is less than 50 feet from mound to plate we’d suggest the Junior Hack Attack to save a few bucks.
We’ve used our machine almost daily for over two years and it works like new. Highly recommended for the person who doesn’t have a budget. Around $3000.
An inflatable batting cage that actually inflates, and stays inflated, would be a work of wonder for a handful of players, coaches and parents looking to get extra reps in during (and not during the season). We reviewed the Rude American Cage earlier in the year and found it to be the best one on the market (and almost the only one). The cage is durable, portable and safe.
Of course real cages like this cost an arm and leg, hence the reason it is in the ‘money is no object category’. But if you happen to have $8,000+ shipping and taxes lying around, this will make someone’s dreams come true this holiday season. About $8000.