With only a few shopping days left until Christmas, now’s the time to draft that last-minute gift list to add memorable merchandise to your favorite sport-lover’s man cave.
Hint: Real men want authentic, signed sports memorabilia, not expensive cologne, designer neck ties, or sexy thong underwear.
With the recent Chicago Cubs World Series victory, Chicago-area sports and gift shop’s cash registers are ringing like jingle bells.
There was so much pent-up demand for Cubs gear that sports fans spent about $70 million on World Series gear the first day after the Cubs took the title.
In fact, the Cubs World Series championship merchandise set a high for Major League Baseball’s best hot-market sales ever in a single month, and the record was set in the first 24 hours after the final out.
Authentic (licensed by MLB) Cubs World Series hats and T-shirts and fleece hoodies bearing the official championship logo were in great demand, priced at up to $80 at Carson’s.
Winning the World Series has become a religious experience. Even Chicago Archbishop Cupich gave Pope Francis a Cubs hat and a baseball signed by the Cubs on his recent visit to the Vatican. This writer witnessed an elderly Jewish gentleman wearing a Cubs yarmulke while shopping at Whole Foods in the Sauganash neighborhood on the Northwest Side.
Women fans also are participating in the fun. Carson’s is offering a Waterford crystal Cubs championship baseball for only $150.
For real memorabilia collectors, the value of the World Series legendary “last-out ball” already has been estimated at $250,000 to $3 million.
With lofty numbers like this being tossed around, it’s no wonder the FBI’s Art Crimes team warned Cubs fans to be on the lookout for counterfeit memorabilia.
Beware of “game-used” items such as jerseys and autographed baseballs. Even if the signatures have been authenticated, better check qualifications of the authenticator, the FBI advises.
Why are Cubs fans still so crazy about this stuff nearly two months after the World Series ended? Winning can be good for your mental and physical health, but apparently the high only lasts a little while, psychologists say.
When a sports team wins, fans with a strong psychological connection to the club also feel success as well. A World Series win for the Cubs—the first since 1908—can actually increase a male fan’s testosterone level, and doctors say winning could lead to a boost in one’s immune system.
Wearing and displaying sports memorabilia of the winning team becomes a lifestyle for months, maybe even years after the championship event because the trophies of victory keep that mental and physical high alive, psychologists say.
Now I know why wearing my Vintage Risk and Chicago Sun-Times championship softball jackets always makes my chest stick out instead of my beer belly. And, my proudest possessions are those signed championship Clincher softballs signed by my teammates and displayed near the wet bar in my man cave.
Let’s look at some of the licensed Cubs World Series trophies and some assorted future dust-gathering junk being offered by the Bradford Exchange, a Niles-based company that is cashing in on the sports frenzy:
• Commemorative Trophy Ornament. This “heirloom-quality, meticulously sculpted, cast and hand painted” 6.5-inch high ornament features a replica of the World Series trophy. The home- plate design showcases an actual in-game photo of the victory celebration, sculpted cross bats and a baseball and the championship year. Price: $39.98.
• Commemorative Sculpture. This collectible is a 7-inch tall statue of Cubs 1st baseman Anthony Rizzo stretching to catch the ball for the final out in the World Series. The sculpture features the iconic Wrigley Field marquee declaring the moment the Cubs became “World Series Champions,” along with a collection of backdrop action photos. Price: $119.96, payable in four easy payments of $29.99.
• World Series Champions Stein. Luckily only 10,800 of these 7.75-inch tall beer steins will ever be made. Made of “hand-crafted, hard-fired Heirloom Porcelain,” the 30-ounce stein is reminiscent of a Bavarian beer stein.
It showcases the official champion’s logo and a color image of Cubs players celebrating. It features a baseball bat handle, baseball topper and a metal alloy lid with a baseball glove thumb rest, so fans can “toast the champs in winning style.” Price: $129.96.
• Champions Express. A real working HO-scale Cubs electric train, complete with 14-piece track set and a power pack and speed controller. You can buy the diesel locomotive for only $79.98. The track and power unit are included free. Add more cars to the train every other month, at $79.98 each, including the Cubs “Champions Celebration Car.”
As if these four “iconic” trophies were not enough, the Bradford Exchange also is offering a porcelain plate ($49.98); a lighted Christmas-tree ornament made of hand-blown glass ($39.99); a charm bracelet ($119); a man’s wrist watch with Cubs logo ($249), and a woman’s fashion watch ($99).
Other retailers also are jumping on the Cubs bandwagon. The Mister Shop in North Riverside is offering a “prized possession”—an Italian lambskin Cubs championship jacket with lambskin logos for only $1,495. For 2-XL through 6-XL jumbo sizes expect to pay a higher price.
Both the Chicago Tribune and the Chicago Sun-Times are selling commemorative, full-color photo books, and Amazon is marketing a collector’s edition of the 2016 World Series on Blu-ray and DVD.
And, Binny’s Beverage Depot has introduced the “2016 Cubs World Series Championship Brut,” a bottle of champagne for only $24.99. This one must have been inspired by Cubs manager Joe Maddon, a wine lover.
World Series Postscript: Better not spend all your Christmas gift money on sports memorabilia. The Cubs announced they are raising ticket prices by an average of 19.5 percent to an average of $58. Season ticket holders will pay up to 31 percent more.
For more housing news, visit www.dondebat.biz. Don DeBat is co-author of “Escaping Condo Jail,” the ultimate survival guide for condominium living. Visit www.escapingcondojail.com.