Christmas Comes Early

Published 10:30 am Sunday, December 17, 2023

If you ask me about baseball and players I would go back to long ago. A name that would pop up would be an old-timer like the late, great Mickey Mantle. Almost all of us would remember that name. At the same time, hardly any of us would know the name Shohei Ohtani, although his name is front and center in the game of Major League Baseball (MLB) right now. Ohtani is a Japanese baseball player, by birth, but has been a member of MLB since 2018. I mention his name today because Santa Claus seems to have brought Ohtani his Christmas present early this year. After the 2023 baseball season, Ohtani’s contract with the Los Angeles Angels expired and he became a free agent, which means he could sign with any team. Usually that means the team that would pay the most money. Ohtani is an unusual Major League Baseball player in that he has the ability to hit a baseball with great frequency and power, but he can also pitch the ball with the speed and accuracy that allows him to serve in that most important position of pitcher. Probably the most famous baseball player in history to hit and pitch at such a level of proficiency was Babe Ruth! The reason I am writing of Shohei Ohtani during this season of Christmas is that Santa Claus has brought Ohtani his Christmas gift a little early. As of December 11, a mere two weeks before the rest of us are visited by Kris Kringle, Shohei Ohtani looked in his stocking hung by the chimney with care and found a new contract from the Los Angeles Dodgers worth $700 million dollars. That’s right. $700 million dollars for ten years. To play baseball! I used to love to play baseball as a young boy. It’s the first game I loved. At school, we played it before school started, at recess, and any other time we could get out of class, but Santa Claus wasn’t paying us “squat” to play. He didn’t have to; we would have (and did) played for nothing. I can remember when the aforementioned Mickey Mantle was paid by the New York Yankees $100 thousand and we thought, “Nobody is worth that much money!” But $700 million for just ten years? Well I guess we can say that Christmas has come early for Shohei Ohtani. I just wonder how many cookies and how much milk this baseball player is going to put out for Santa Claus? Which begs the question, when did we start to put cookies and milk out for Santa on Christmas Eve. With Google as my friend, I searched to find where and when that tradition began. It started in Europe, but as far as the United States is concerned, it began with our 1930’s Depression. Our nation and the world was suffering and hardly anyone had anything. But parents wanted their children to understand how important it was to have gratitude even in hard times so, even though the money for presents might be hard to come by, there was the flour and sugar to make cookies. There was also a cow from which they might get milk. On Christmas Eve and the night that Santa was coming, it was a great time to give. Cookies could be made and left to show appreciation for the season of Christmas. The family might not have $700 million in a sports contract, but it could have love in its heart for the spirit of Christmas and Santa Claus. I hope the tradition of showing love and gratitude for this season is never lost!

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