With the holiday season quickly approaching, Little League® Baseball and Softball wants to help your family and friends with some gift giving ideas to help make this a special time for your Little Leaguer®.
Buying the Right Bat
If a new bat is on your baseball player’s wish list, there are some important things you may want to think about before making your purchase this year. Beginning on January 1, 2018, Little League will begin using a new standard established by USA Baseball, and the current 1.15 Bat Performance Factor will no longer be the standard for Little League-approved baseball bats. Baseball bats with the new USA Baseball Standard won’t be commercially available until late 2017, for use in 2018, so, while your Little Leaguer’s current Little League-approved baseball bat will be good through next season, he or she won’t be allowed to use it in 2018. The USA Baseball standard in 2018 will only apply to baseball, however, so if you are looking to buy a softball bat for the holiday season this year, be sure it follows the specifications in the Little League Softball® rulebook. For more information on the new bat standard, and to know if your bat will be allowed, visit LittleLeague.org/batinfo.
Getting a Glove
A fielding glove is always a good gift, but knowing if the glove is a good fit for the hand size of your Little Leaguer, their position(s), and division is very important. A typical fielding glove is measured in inches. Looking for a glove for your Tee Ball player is typically one size fits all, but be sure to check the label or printing on the fingers of the glove to be sure. For those Little Leaguers league-age nine or older, the common starting size is 11 to 12 inches for an infield or outfield glove. A catcher’s mitt or first-baseman’s glove are also nice gifts for Major Division-age players and older, but be sure the glove fits comfortably on their hand.
Finding the Right Helmet
Batting helmets are one of the most essential items for any baseball and softball player, and there are plenty of stylish choices available today. Whether you get a batting helmet with a metal or plastic facemask, or a cage that covers the entire face, look on the helmet’s earflap or on the back of the helmet to make sure that it is approved by the National Operating Committee on Standards for Athletic Equipment (NOCSAE). That stamp on the helmet is necessary for it be used in a Little League game. The NOCSAE stamp is also required in catcher’s helmets. Remember, no stickers are allowed on batting helmets unless they are applied by the helmet’s manufacturer.
Gear Up Behind the Plate
For the Little Leaguers expecting to play Major Division baseball or softball this season, and are looking to go behind the plate, then new catcher’s gear is a possibility this holiday season. The hockey-style masks are popular, but the conventional full-coverage helmets are equally good. Both need to be NOCSAE approved, and be equipped with dangling throat guards, which makes a great stocking stuffer for you. Be aware that Little League does not allow skull caps. This type of helmet has a mask that is not connected to the helmet and does not fully cover the back and side of the head. The chest protector and shin guards can round out the ensemble. Proper fit is key, so for this gift you need to be aware of the size of your player, so that the size you get will protect effectively. The chest protector can be either long (to protect the groin area), or short, just covering the torso.
Stocking Stuffers, Apparel, and More
If you are just looking for something to give your Little Leaguer, or even your family and friends, something to use year round, be sure to visit the Little League Official Store, the only place you can find official Little League shirts, hats, accessories, and more. From league essentials, such as patches and banners, to official merchandise from the 2016 Little League Baseball World Series, the Little League Store Official Store has everything you need to make this year’s Holiday season special.
The Holiday season is always a great time to think of those Little Leaguers who might not be as fortunate. Giving back to your local league, or donating to Pitch In For Baseball to help other Little Leaguers around the world, is another wonderful gift-giving idea this holiday season.
No matter who is on your shopping list this year, the best gift you can give your Little Leaguers is some time in the backyard playing catch, making it to their games and encouraging them to play fair, strive to win and do their best. From everyone at Little League, we wish you and your family the happiest of holidays!