Watching last night’s All Star game started me thinking about how important the game of baseball has been in my life. From the early 60’s until today, there have been very few Yankee games that I’ve missed watching, at least in part. In the 60’s it was Mickey Mantle, my all time sports hero, Roger Maris, who broke the Babe’s home run record, and Elston Howard, the Yankees’ first African American player, a man of incredible dignity and grace.
When we opened Sports Depot in 1985, we carried the same pinstripe jersey that has not changed in all the years. The Mick was still a prominent NY figure and we regularly stitched his number 7 (and my favorite number) on both replica and pro jerseys. Luckily for our business, the Mets were hot our first full year, 1986, so against my rooting interests, we cranked out Dwight Gooden tees and Darryl Strawberry jerseys. In truth, the Mets and the football Giants put us on the map with their great 1986 success.
After an extended drought, despite the presence of Donnie baseball, the Yanks came to life in 1995 and just missed making the World Series. By 1996 we (the Yanks) were unstoppable, with Derek, Mariano, Andy and Bernie. Half the ball gloves we sold had Jeter’s name on it, be it a beginner’s Rawlings model or the very Heart of the Hide glove that Derek wore on the field. He wore Nike batting gloves, we sold Nike batting gloves, he used a Louisville bat, we sold Louisville bats.
Fast forward 20 years to 2015. As opposed to being a local New York retailer we are now selling across the country on sportsdepot.com. We are watching the best group of young players come to prominence in many, many years. Trout is the second coming of the Mick, he swings an Old Hickory bat, we sell Old Hickory bats. Bryce Harper wears a red Rawlings glove, we sell red Rawlings Bryce Harper gloves.
The veterans are helping out as well. Joey Bats (Jose Bautista), who has the quickest bat I’ve ever seen, except perhaps for Trout, swings a Marucci bat, we sell his model. The great Albert Pujols, having a renaissance year in his mid thirties, swings a Marucci bat, we sell his model. It is both wonderful and strange to have my passion for baseball and our business so intertwined,
Getting back to my Yanks, they are unexpectedly sitting in first place at the All Star break. The old vets are hitting, Teixeira’s fielding beautifully as well so his first baseman glove, the Rawlings Prosfm19cx is selling beautifully. Brian McCann is handling the pitchers brilliantly, his Under Armour catcher’s gear is selling out, especially the youth replica kits.
So at the end of the day, what is more important, the success of my Yankees and my general love of baseball, or the success of our business that results from the brilliance of great players? I guess both. Enjoy the second half of the season everybody, it’s shaping up to be terrific.