Decided to do all my Christmas shopping at one place this year. Knew for three months where my one-stop shopping spree would be--the Cincinnati Reds' Gift Shop.
Yes sir, since this is Pete Rose, USA, why not a Pete Rose Christmas?
Ever since Sept. 11, when Pete broke Ty Cobb's record of 4,191 hits, I knew the Reds' gift shop would be ready with tons of trinkets for a Rosy Christmas. And the good old consumer-minded Reds didn't let me down. I started filling my sack the instant I walked through the door and spotted the official Pete Rose coffee cup ($9).
My little calculator's micro-chip may melt down, but hey, what's money compared to baseball history?
"The Official Pete Rose Baseball Card Set" caught my eye right away. A "complete set of 120 cards." Had to be a steal at $16.95.
And a cassette audio tape. "Pete Rose, Baseball's Greatest Switch-Hitter." Sure, it's $12.95, but it's got to be good. It says, "Achievement cassettes--tapes to instruct, motivate, inspire."
And even a video tape. Great gift for anyone with a VCR. A 20-minute tape with all kinds of "highlights"--"highlights of Pete's record-breaking hit" and "highlights from the post-game ceremony." $39.99.
Baseball caps, boy, did they have those. One style has "14" above the bill (Pete's uniform number, dummy). Comes in red or white. $7.50.
Another cap. This one's $11.95. "Available in red only," but, "One size fits all." Has all kinds of things written in a circle above the brim. "4192, 9-11-85, 14, All time record base hits."
I know Pete doesn't drink, but I just couldn't pass up this beer mug featuring Pete's mug. $16.
And framed photographs and posters, you wouldn't believe it. A 20-by-24 inch frame with a dozen photos of "The Hit." $65. And a smaller version, $22. And an even smaller one, $13. Whoa. This great big one, for a special gift. A 22-by-36 inch color photo of "The Swing" made into a framed poster. $135.
Here's something in a box so tiny that I have no idea what it is. It's about the size of a matchbook, but it's got Pete's picture on it and an $8.50 price tag, so it's got to be sensational. I open it up and it's a pewter keychain. Maybe get two, they're small.
Clothes racks are clogged with Rose jerseys. And even though I've been learning about the high price of baseball nostalgia, I shudder slightly at the price. $89.95. And this is a real small one, for a little kid. Not much material in it at all. I ask a clerk why it costs so much.
"Made by the same company out of the same material that the major leaguers wear," she says. "They do cost a lot, but then, they cost us a lot."
Think I'll just get one of those.
I know from previous visits that in the back of the store they sell bats that Reds' players have broken in games. Do I dare price a Rose bat? Go for it! Christmas comes but once a year.
Plenty of busted bats in the boxes. The bats have names on them, saying who broke them. There's "Krenchicki" and "Bilardello." Even a "Redus." Maybe they're having a fire sale on that one since Redus criticized Rose at the end of the season and was recently traded. All the bats are priced at $15 each. But I don't see a "Rose."
I ask a clerk, "Do you have any broken Pete Rose bats?"
"Do you ever have them?"
"If you did get one, what do you think it would cost?"
Leaving the bat department in a daze, I head for the plate section. Not home plate, but "collector plates." The 10-inch diameter kind. Here's one for $100 that says, "To Marge, Pete Rose." Obviously the "Marge" is Reds' owner Marge Schott, but, wow, what a great gift for anyone named Marge.
Statues, too. Here's a six-inch high porcelain figure of Pete in his batting crouch. $125. And here's a three-by-five inch "ceramic baseball card" of Pete. $39. The display stand is $4.95 extra.
Well, they've got a lot more Pete Rose stuff, but you have to stop somewhere. I make the final entry on my calculator and discover that my 18 Pete Rose gifts are going to cost a grand total of $726.69.
As Harry Caray would say, "Holy Cow!" I'm a big baseball fan, but I can't afford that. I've got to put all this stuff back and just grab a handful of these little Pete Rose buttons for stocking stuffers. No price tag on the bin, but they're probably about a quarter each. Get 10 of them.
I ask the clerk how much for 10 buttons and she says, "$15."
Well, I'll have to stop and think about that. After all, for that kind of money, I can get a Gary Redus broken bat.